Finding a job in this economy is a challenge for many, and setting yourself apart from all the other applicants is becoming much more important. One such way is to provide portraits with your resume. Whether you ethically agree with this practice or not in promoting yourself, its slowly becoming a normal part of the hiring process for a growing number of professional companies. In the past two years I’ve heard stories about employers searching out or becoming aware of online content related to current employees and new hires. Facebook, MySpace, Classemates.com, and LinkedIn to name just a few. It’s just becoming a reality that we must learn to cultivate and package the image of ourselves we want others to see, and in this case ‘The Professional’ we would like to be hired as.
I was recently contacted by a young 20-something professional who was searching for a new job and was encountering an increased number of requests for Portraits to be submitted with their interview packets. I’m sure the recruiters at these companies have been receiving hundreds of applicants in the past few months, and someone along the way thought it would be a great way to help identify possible candidates by having photos of them to help put a “face” to the text. My first instinct was shock and outrage at the invasion of privacy or the possibility for inequity this could open up, but I don’t know for a fact that that’s what’s happening, nor do I have a good answer for “why not”.
I do know that requests for headshots are increasing in the job market, and employers who are not requesting them outright are searching digital venues for evidence of your presence on the “interverse” (My made up word for the internet universe). With this in mind, Its important to control and promote the presence you want others to see on your online universe. Always assume everyone can see everything, and nothing is private. And if you get a request for headshots/portraits to accompany your application for a new job, do everything you can to set yourself apart. Don’t just take a picture in the bathroom mirror.
My client decided to have professional portraits taken that had an edge to them without being too avant-guard. We thought about location, lighting, background and attire so he could project himself as, “hype, cool, confident, and unique”…… Plus it had to be something that would set him apart. Something that screamed, “HIRE ME!!!!!”