Photo by Philip Dehm –

Polished, professional, poised…..that’s generally the impression most candidates want to give to their prospective employers. We all know how to do that in person….dress well and appropriately for the interview, offer positive body language, give clear, concise, and articulate answers, show that picture of you doing a keg-stand in college, have a clearly articulated resume…… wait a second…a keg stand????? 

Well yes-  that’s just your personal internet presence creeping into a professional recruiting setting….and you probably thought it was safely segregated in your “personal” social presence online. Unfortunately for you, it often isn’t and that image now can’t be unseen by the recruiter that just saw another side to you. It may be fine – In fact it might even help you, but it probably didn’t fit the professional image you were trying to convey.

Which brings me to the point of this article –  Looking for a job is where your personal internet presence meets your professional world so putting your best foot forward here is crucial. Everyone writes about setting up your linked profile appropriately so I wanted to focus on three pet peeves of mine in the recruitment arena that get less coverage where you can do just that…. 

2. Profile Pictures

LinkedIn Profile pictures.
I get to see a lot of these every day and there is generally room for a lot of improvement. I also have seen more than my fare share of bad amateur photography from my time as founder of a UGC image agency called CitizenImage. Here are a few ideas on what not to do and what to do in your Linkedin profile photo……


  • Get a professional profile picture of you as your working self. 
  • Smile. Show a friendly face to the world.  
  • Wear clothes that match the work environment you are in or strive to be in. Suits and ties are great for corporate environments but may give off the wrong vibe to recruiters for startups. 
  • Feel free to get creative with the background- especially if it is representative of the industry that you work in 
  • Feel free to show pictures of you at speaking engagements – especially if you are in or want a leadership position.


  • Crop yourself in a group picture. This is your professional profile picture and cropped friends limbs and shoulders shouldn’t be part of it. A significant percentage of LinkedIn profile shots that I see have this issue. 
  • Use pictures from your leisure time – fishing, golfing, surfing, beach time. Yes, there is another side to you but you don’t show up to a business meeting in waders so leave that stuff or Facebook or Instagram.
  • Use a picture from a night out. Focus on your daytime work self.
  • Include kids. Yes, they may be cute and a big part of your life but you don’t bring them to work with you every day.

Profile pictures from other social networks

Remember the keg stand example from above? I saw that this week when I was interviewing a candidate. I was looking at an email from a candidate and Rapportive (a Gmail plugin that I use to pull in Linkedin profiles within my email) pulled in that profile pic from the candidate’s Google plus account. Given its lack of popularity, you may not even remember your profile pic there.  Outlook does similar quirky things. You may have an outlook profile picture from years ago that gets seen out there by people with Outlook mail clients. I got a call last week from a friend whose profile picture on Google contacts (I use Android) was of Elton John. This picture comes up on my phone as he is calling me. There is nothing wrong with Elton John but a) my friend didn’t know that image was coming up when he called me till I told him and b) he doesn’t even like Elton John!

My point is – be aware that Social networking profile pictures can be pulled in out of context and that matters especially when that context is professional in nature around your candidacy for a position. By all means post whatever pictures you want online but when you are looking for a job and using your personal email address, you might want to make sure that your Google Plus, Facebook and Linkedin profile pics look somewhat professional. 

2. Personal Emails.

It is important to portray yourself professionally with your personal email communication also. Here are two bits of advice  a. Have a signature on your personal email. At the very least show your cellphone number and perhaps your linked profile. The phone piece  is practical. It saves me looking through your resume attachment or checking my CRM platform for your phone number.  b. Drop email addresses that belong in the past. This is slightly controversial but I don’t think the following email domains cut mustard anymore:

  • Hotmail. I think this says you like spam
  • Aol. “You got mail” the movie looks really dated these days. So does having this email address.
  • Cable domains – eg. or I personally think this either a) looks dated back to a time when DSL and cable modems were new or b) shows a lack of sophistication in accepting the default mail that comes with your ISP.

    You can’t go wrong with Gmail or your own personal domain – In fact, the latter tends to look more sophisticated (at least you know how to setup your own domain and associated email). 

3. Personal phone peeves

And to the last point of my pet peeve mini-tirade, people do still use voice so it is still an important part of how you portray yourself to a prospective employer. Here are a few red flags that you need to make sure don’t happen to you…

  • Voicemail full. This is never a good sign of your responsiveness / organization skills
  • Voicemail not setup yet / no personalized message. If you are in sales, a hiring firm would hope that you would at least tell your customers that they have indeed reached your phone instead of being greeted by an anonymous message or, worse yet, no voicemail setup. 

I hope this helps. Here’s to seeing less random limbs out there, less awful, out of context personal pictures, leaving “you got mail” to the movie archives and remembering to setup your voicemail!

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