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Career Corner: My New Pet Peeve

Profile photos on professional networking applications should be kept professional. – Courtesy photo

By Angela Copeland

There’s this thing that happens when you see something unexpected. You just can’t unsee it. Once you know, there’s no turning back. That happened for me one year ago. I’ve tried to push it out of my mind, but I just can’t any longer.

Professionals on LinkedIn are posting some very unprofessional things. It’s happening all the time, and frankly, it’s shocking.

There’s been an influx of cartoon profile photos. There are also overly casual profile photos taken with baseball caps on. There are profile photos with children and pets. The professional is posing along with their two babies, two cats, or two dogs.

There are job titles like, “Not Channing Tatum’s dad” and “Defender of the Universe.” In fact, if you look, there are 64 professionals on LinkedIn who are apparently defending our universe.

There are even posts featuring ultrasound photos, announcing the births of new babies.

At first glance, these things all seem fun. These people seem so relatable. This personal information allows connections on LinkedIn to learn more about the person quickly.

But, this is the problem. Not everybody can post photos with their babies and cats on LinkedIn and be taken seriously in the professional world. Not everyone can post a cartoon profile photo and expect to ever get a new job.

I’ll be honest. The people primarily posting these things are young male executives in their thirties and forties. I’m 100 percent certain they have the very best of intentions. They want to be relatable. They want to show they put their family first. They want to be funny. They want to show their personality.

With this in mind, you’re probably wondering why in the world this is an issue at all. Please hear me out.

It’s an issue because many people cannot post a cartoon photo as a LinkedIn profile photo and be taken seriously. For example, I could never post a photo with children and expect to land a job interview. Revealing my whole self is not a privilege that I have if I want to be employed.

To put it in perspective, I have been directly asked in job interviews whether or not I’m planning to have any children soon. As hard as it is to believe, the question is sometimes used as a screening tool.

To the young, successful men out there, this column is for you. I respect what you’re trying to do. I respect that you want to be relatable. I love that you’re showing me that your family is an important part of your life. I know that you are creating these fun profiles for all of the right reasons.

But, we can’t all share those things and be taken seriously. Let’s keep LinkedIn as the professional site it is. And when we become friends, we’ll connect on Facebook and I can learn about your kids, your spouse, and your awesome dogs there.

Angela Copeland, a career expert and founder of Copeland Coaching, can be reached at copelandcoaching.com.

February 5, 2019

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Angela Copeland


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