Articles From the Team

Will my LinkedIn photo have an impact on my chances of getting a job?

This may (in parts) come across as a melodramatic rant. I assure you it’s not, it has been thoroughly thought out.

In October 2014 I wrote a blog about taking care of what you post online and how this may reflect on you professionally. For some time now it has been widely acknowledged that employers and lawyer candidates are likely to do a “background search” before or after an interview. Some might search on Twitter or Facebook as the two most prominent social media platforms, others may take to Instagram as well, but it is most likely that your search will take you to LinkedIn.

LinkedIn can be a fantastic tool for showcasing your academic and professional achievements. It is effectively an online CV. The difference between your LinkedIn profile and your actual CV though is LinkedIn also displays a picture of you so it would probably be sensible to keep this picture professional and respectable; this seems very much like common sense to me. But I am perplexed, bewildered and somewhat vexed at what I seem to be seeing more and more in recent months; LinkedIn being used much more like a social network than a professional networking tool…

When did it become acceptable for someone to use what I can only describe as a duck face selfie, “an exaggerated pouting expression in which the lips are thrust outwards, typically made by a person posing for a photograph…” or a picture of themselves posing in front of a mirror at the gym as a LinkedIn profile picture? Both men and women are guilty of this! Has it become acceptable or are people just flouting the unwritten rule of LinkedIn?

I can only speak of my sector, legal services, and therefore I can only speak of legal professionals. You may think that we shouldn’t judge people on appearances in 2017 and I agree, it is an antiquated and irrelevant measurement of an individual’s suitability to a job; but vanity works both ways and while we all want to look good, showcase our best features, capture the eye and so on, that visual appearance is your first impression and like it or not (due mostly to human nature and the dichotomy of vanity) first impressions do still count for a lot.

When your prospective employer looks at this picture or meets you in person surely you want them to think that you will fit in with them, with the team, with the culture and I’m sure you would want them to trust you in front clients. Yes they will decipher all of this after speaking to you, testing you technically and getting to know you but if they have looked you up online then a poorly considered profile picture may make it more difficult for you to make the right impression.

Instagram, Facebook and Twitter are not designed to be professional networking tools, much in the same way that LinkedIn is not intended to be a social network (or a dating site, judging by some pictures…) It is a professional and social convention that we dress in a certain way for work, which does of course vary from office to office and across different sectors; but because of this convention we create a certain appearance of ourselves which we (mostly) turn up a notch at interview. Knowing that you can be seen on LinkedIn, knowing that it is in fact a professional networking tool, why then would you not make the same efforts with your online appearance?

We now live in a world where connectivity is simple, blind dates no longer exist, six degrees of separation have been cut almost in half thanks to technology and this is no bad thing; and while I am certainly not saying you should present a false version of yourself, it is certainly worth considering how you appear online.

For more information contact Gishan Abeyratne at BCL Legal.

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