First impressions count for career change success. As a professional looking for new opportunities you already know that how you present yourself is important. For example, there are many research studies to show that first impressions impact interview decisions.
Nowadays, the people you rely on to help you with your career change, including prospective employers, can “meet” you long before you turn up in person. What messages are they receiving? What conclusions are they reaching? What steps are you taking to create a good first impression?
Like it or not, others form impressions from your visual messages. The good news is that you can take some simple steps to make a positive difference. If you’re working on your career, you’re already updating your work experience, skills, and other profile content. But don’t neglect the visual components of your profile.
In our information-saturated world, how you communicate visually is more important than ever. When you’re changing career, you need to revamp the content of your career communication. But you also need to consider your visual messages.
Making a good impression through your visual career communication is about more than dressing professionally for a job interview. It begins long before that.
Think about your own experience. When as the last time you got the wrong impression about someone? As human beings we are adept at quickly interpreting information about others. We are efficient perceivers. But our perceptual systems are subject to biases that often mean they are inaccurate. Yet, we have no trouble making judgments about others with limited input. This includes information such as photographs.
Are Your Profile Photographs Aligned with your Career Change Goals?
An easy way to begin is to review your profile images. If you’ve uploaded a photograph, this is typically the first thing that people see. As human beings we are programmed to pay attention to the face. Use this to your advantage by choosing your headshot carefully. If you already have a profile photograph, is it communicating what you want it to communicate?
Do Your Profile Photographs Make A Good First Impression?
Let’s start with LinkedIn. It’s a great place to communicate your career brand. If you don’t have a photograph on LinkedIn, it’s time to add one. Not having one is a disadvantage. Why? Because other professionals are less likely to connect with you. When people don’t know you yet, your headshot provides some reassurance that your profile is not fake.
Are you planning to work with recruiters? If so, they’re unlikely to take time to read your content if your profile doesn’t include your photograph. Unlike some other platforms, LinkedIn does not allow you to replace your photograph with logos or other images.
If you do have a photograph, take an objective look at it. What does it communicate? Is the photograph clear ? Is the image the correct size for the platform? How is the lighting? What is conveyed by your facial expression?
How long ago was it taken? It can be disconcerting to meet someone you’ve connected with on LinkedIn and find out they look nothing like a profile photograph from ten or fifteen years ago. First impressions count. But you also want to communicate authentically. Once you have made the changes you want on LinkedIn, repeat the process for your other online profiles.
Create A Good First Impression By Aligning your Visual Communication with your Career Goals
Career & Work Life Matters, ISSN 2150-6299, Vol 6, no. 13
|Jennifer Bradley, PhD helps professionals lead their own careers, empowered with the information, tools, and resources that they need. She offers individual coaching and consulting, teaches classes, and publishes articles on career development and career transition.
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