In the current job market, selling yourself is key to landing your dream job. As such, it is no surprise that social networks that focus on professional connections are almost mandatory in this day and age. Sites like Hiive and LinkedIn successfully connect likeminded employers and potential employees on a scale that was impossible to achieve prior to the advent of the internet.
However, because of the ubiquity of these professional networking platforms, it can be hard to stand out amongst the sea of people. That is why its key to create the perfect profile: one that not only highlights your strengths and experience, but also one that immediately captures anyone who visits your profile.
In this sense, the old dictum, ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’, holds true. The first thing anyone viewing your platform will see is your photo. Whether it is fair or not, a viewer’s immediate impression of your work abilities will depend on the way you look.
Luckily, BorrowFox is here to help with a few tips on how to make your professional social network profile catch the attention of potential employers and collaborators.
Trustworthiness and competency are what all employers, and indeed all people, look for when looking for a personal connection worth exploring. They are qualities that, one may assume, become clear the more you get to know someone. While this is certainly true to an extent, research shows that the human brain makes this judgment almost immediately based on a person’s face. Harvard social psychologist Amy Cuddy states: ‘When we form a first impression of another person it’s not really a single impression. We’re really forming two. We’re judging how warm and trustworthy the person is, and that’s trying to answer the question, “What are this person’s intentions toward me?” And we’re also asking ourselves, “How strong and competent is this person?” That’s really about whether or not they’re capable of enacting their intentions. Research shows that these two trait dimensions account for 80 to 90 percent of an overall first impression, and that holds true across cultures.’
So, how exactly does one convey the key qualities of trustworthiness, competency, and professionalism, in a single photo?
Before taking the actual profile picture, picking the right outfit is key. If you are looking to work in a professional setting, like an office, wear professional clothing. A button down shirt or a suit are good bets. If you are looking for work in a creative industry, like film, your clothing can be a bit more relaxed to fit in with the culture of the industry you wish to work in.
- The Pose
Your pose is an important aspect of how you are perceived. A good rule of thumb is to highlight your face with just your shoulders showing in the frame. You do not want to draw attention away from the trustworthiness and competency that can be read on your face. With that in mind, it is also important to display a genuine smile. This makes you appear both open and capable. Once again, there is more leeway when tailoring your profile to a creative industry. As you can see from the most popular users’ profiles on Hiive, a little flair that showcases your creative spirit will endear you to others in similar industries.
- The Camera
If you’re going to put in the effort to take a striking professional headshot, it is important to not skimp on the camera you use to take the shot. While phone cameras can be used passably (as long as the photo isn’t a selfie) a Panasonic GH4 or a Canon EOS 80D (£16 and £25 respectively on BorrowFox) can subtly, but strikingly, improve the quality of your photo. Because this photo is the first impression potential employers and collaborators will have of you, renting a high end piece of kit is certainly worth the small investment.
- The Background
The background of your profile picture is not as important as the other aspects outlined above. However, if you choose the wrong type of background, it can negatively influence how someone might perceive your profile. For an office job, a plain, unobtrusive background is best. For the creative sector, the plain background works as well, but you can spice up the picture if the background matches what industry you work in. For example, if you are a musician you could have your band behind you or, if you are a filmmaker, you could have your picture taken in front of a working set. The key in both cases, however, is to make sure that you are still the main focus of the picture.
Making connections in the business world, no matter the industry can be tough. But, with the perfect profile picture on your professional social network account, it can be a bit easier.