Conquent: Without Limits
Conquent: Without Limits
Kristen Fife's Blog

Your Professional Online Persona - The Photo

2011-07-12 08:29:13
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Blogging is a great way to establish yourself as a SME (Subject Matter Expert) in your field, as a hobbyist, or even as a writer. It was this very blog which led me to become a columnist on, a division of the Seattle Times. And yes, that means I'm in the Sunday paper, in print, and paid for my column.

I didn't have a good head shot, and the paper wasn't adamant on a professional studio version. They were fine with an outdoor photo, so a friend and I that used to be a professional photographer went out on a photo shoot. The photo you see above is one of the results. (I just had an updated shoot with a photographer from the paper and that is now my online photo; they like to update them every year.)

Now, a photo is a big no-no on your resume. But if you are using online media to establish yourself as a professional, a nice head shot is more than acceptable. There are a few caveats to consider. If you are worried about ageism and know you look older than your age and don't want to promote that, don't worry about a photo. If you are using an online handle and don't want people to know you by face (maybe you have been the victim of an identity theft or a stalker) of course you don't want to promote yourself.

If you do choose to use a photo, make sure that it is a clear photo and *relatively recent* (not something from twenty years that for Facebook or other social sites if you aren't linking said personas). You should be the focus of the photo, not the background. It should be in focus. It can be color or black and white, and there is nothing wrong with retouching it with Photoshop or another editing tool. Keep it in various sizes so that you can use it to create a continuity to your online profile (for example, my shot above is also on my LinkedIn profile.) Make sure that it is on the professional side (i. e. don't have a lollipop or a cigarette dangling from your lips or wearing Mardi Gras face paint.)

I follow Intern Queen, and was really shocked to see this from one of her college ambassadors, which for me ruined the professional tenor of the otherwise good blog:

I mean, really, a young woman in college didn't have any other photos of herself than one cut in half with someone else's arm around her? Really? (I made a comment to that effect on the IQ FB posting.) She couldn't have someone grab her phone to take a better shot? It totally damages her professional credibility in my book. Because, although her *audience* is the college crowd, when she is looking for internships or a FT job, this is going to be something she can point to as professional experience, and recruiters and hiring managers are *going* to look. And be unimpressed when the first thing they see is that photo.

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Michael R. Bissell: Re: Kristen Fife: Your Professional Online Persona - The Photo
2011-07-12 11:00:28

I don't know how many photos Purnima took of me to try to get a good profile photo. Purnima, being a full time graphic designer and a great photographer to boot, insisted that if my face was going to be on a company website that she worked for, I had to get something professional. So, I'm in a jacket and dress shirt in a comfortable, but fairly neutral, setting and, while not perfect, it's not a shot of me at some party with my drunken friends.

That generic, professional image is now on my Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn... heck, it's on all my social media accounts because it's become part of my personal brand -- and in this age of "everyone's a rock star" your personal brand is increasingly important. I don't want it sullied because someone finds an account I forgot about where my avatar photo involves large quantities of alcohol and a Santa suit...

Chryssa Piper: Re: - Your Professional Online Persona - The Photo
2011-07-21 13:47:26

It looks like her chin is in the other girl's armpit. SO unattractive.

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