Resumes and CVs are how you officially present yourself to potential employers, but what about unofficially? While a resume may be your strongest tool in an application packet, they’re not always the only way employers check your employment history. Photos and materials on professional networking sites like LinkedIn are often the first thing an employer checks when researching an applicant, so you need to make sure your site sets the same tone as your CV and that your photo is representative of who you are as an professional.
We reached out to brand and public relations strategist, Emily A. Schwarz (B.S., University of Florida) for some quick hints on using LinkedIn to brand yourself as a professional (academic or otherwise) and why curating your digital images to fit your job search can set you apart.
I don’t like having my photo taken… Do I really need a headshot?
Emily Schwarz (ES): YES, you absolutely need one for your LinkedIn or other professional networking site, and it can and will hurt if you don’t have one. Your headshot is another way to express your personal brand and differentiate yourself from the thousands of other job seekers looking to take your spot.
What’s a brand?
ES: Chick-fil-A and Coca-Cola have separate brand identities. This means they’ve attached a feeling and personality to their brands through the use of marketing (the way they talk in their ads, the type of ads they run, the colors they use, etc.).
If this is something companies do why should I care? Why brand myself?
ES: This type of strategy isn’t limited to multi-billion dollar companies, but something every person in the professional world, or those poising themselves to be in the professional [or academic] world, should actively pursue. For example, my LinkedIn profile shows a bit of my personality, not only through the use of a headshot, but also in my cover photo, in the headline I chose (not something boring and industry-specific), in the organizations I’ve listed that I represent and the inclusion of work samples.
But I don’t want to muddy the waters. My resume is great—shouldn’t it just stand alone?
ES: Employers are looking for more than just your skills and qualifications. They want to get to know you, and they want to see if you’re going to mesh with their culture. They want to feel a certain way when they look at your profile, just like you feel a certain way when you “like” a Facebook post from Taco Bell about National Taco Day, when you happen to love tacos.
Maybe your employer happens to be a fan of the university you attended, or the professional way you portray yourself in your photo/profile as a whole. We are lucky to live in a world where there are so many ways to differentiate ourselves now, aside from a boring Word doc resume [or CV]. Make sure you take advantage of all of them.