By Ed Han
The successful job seeker does not turn down a competitive advantage. That’s why you’re here at Job-Hunt.org in the first place, isn’t it?
Today, smart job seekers have a target list of employers and target job titles at those target employers.
As a smart job seeker, you are focusing your network activities into those target organizations.
You also have a sparkling elevator speech, have not only a resume but also a marketing plan, and the rest: because you want the edge.
Yet a surprising number of job seekers forgo an incredibly powerful advantage on LinkedIn: the Profile picture.
Or, they have a photo, but they limit the visibility of that image to only those people they are connected to on LinkedIn. Limiting the visibility of your face is a BIG mistake on LinkedIn.
To be most visible to recruiters, be sure that your photo is visible to people viewing your LinkedIn Profile even if they aren't on LinkedIn. For the most successful job search, check your Profile's privacy settings to be sure that your Profile and your "headshot" (the Profile photo) are completely visible.
Many job seekers over 40 have told me that they are afraid a potential employer will see their photo, notice their age, and decide not to contact them because they are "old" or have some other characteristic that would cause an employer to discriminate against them.
Unfortunately, most LinkedIn members, particularly recruiters, are skeptical of Profiles which have the image at the left in their Profile.
Recruiters think: No photo? Clearly, this person does not understand how LinkedIn works. Or, this Profile is fake. Or, this person is hiding something (hmmm... what?).
The best image is simply your face, looking professional (business attire), and friendly. No pets or kids or other people in the image.
Read LinkedIn Profile Photos for Job Seekers Over 50 for some great advice.
In just about every job, there are those colleagues you may not know well but with whom you had water cooler/break room conversations.
You know their first names, but odds are you never did learn their full names, and possibly not even their department or job function.
If you’re here at Job-Hunt.org, everywhere you turn, you are being told that networking is how most jobs are filled so you should be doing it.
This inevitably leads you to LinkedIn, so you begin using it.
And lo and behold: while searching a former employer, there’s Bob or Sue, with whom you used to have those water cooler conversations. So you look at their profiles: yup, right employer at the right times.
Great, let’s see how he or she is now! Where do they work? What do they do now?
And, you reach out...
But, how are they going to know it’s YOU reaching out?
I mean, you should certainly customize your LinkedIn invitation to connect -- but that isn’t always reliably possible if you’re accessing the site through a mobile app, and that assumes that people can see and are reading those messages.
There is, however, an option a whole lot less ambiguous than text -- which they will only be able to see when they choose to read the invitation if they don’t simply accept/decline anyway.
On LinkedIn, your name is almost always accompanied by your profile picture (and your Professional Headline). So...
...They SHOULD recognize you, IF you have a Profile picture.
The Profile photo helps them "connect the dots" and recognize you.
The truth is that people don’t connect with data. We connect with people.
After all, no one says, “I never forget a data point.” But, many do say “I never forget a face.”
We may not recall the name, but that flash of recognition rarely fails us. Recognizing faces has been so important over the course of human history that the fusiform gyrus of the brain formed expressly to do it.
Think about that. With all the dedicated sections your brain already has -- seeing, hearing, and the like -- the ability to see someone and know who they are has that same kind of importance.
In addition to being able to perceive your surroundings, it is equally important to know if the people around you are known quantities or not.
This underscores the importance of relationships in the human experience. After all, you can’t form shared memories with someone if you don’t recognize one another. The ability to recognize someone is a prerequisite to establishing a relationship.
A LinkedIn profile picture allows people to put that development to good use.
As one of the world’s most popular sites, LinkedIn -- like other major sites -- has given rise to its own cottage industry. There are LinkedIn consultants, trainers, and bloggers aplenty. A veritable cornucopia of results awaits your next Google search.
Unsurprisingly, one of the best sources of LinkedIn information is LinkedIn itself which reports:
LinkedIn Profiles with profile pictures are eleven times more likely to have someone view their Profile than those lacking a picture.
Eleven times more visible - 1,100% MORE visible!
This is your competitive advantage.
Ed Han is a recruiter and wordsmith and social media fanatic. As a veteran of several industries, including publishing, financial services and fashion, Ed helps facilitate a job search group in Princeton NJ and has served as the online community manager for the regional HR networking group Whine & Dine. Connect with Ed on Twitter @ed_han where you will often find that Ed has posted a "LinkedIn tip of the day."