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I would like to touch on three (3) independent issues, each one interacting separately yet combining to make an impression on employers.
Picture – Should You or Shouldn’t You?
This is a question that comes up all the time. Is it appropriate to include your picture on your CV and/or in your LinkedIn profile? Before you answer this in the affirmative, take a look at this article that I happened upon: http://www.careerealism.com/linkedin-profile-picture-killing-job-prospects/.
I am not a particularly visual person, so my response is generally to do what makes sense to you. From my recent experience, I would say that the majority of CVs do not have photos, and the majority of LinkedIn profiles do contain a picture. If you have a nice professional looking photo, then it is not difficult to make the case that adding this picture will personalize your application, increasing the chances that the company representative will have a favorable opinion of you. A graphic designer might use the picture to present an example of their work.
I have seen a number of LinkedIn profiles where the picture is of an animal (dog, chimpanzee) and I have a difficult time understanding the motivation for including such an image; it is certainly preferable to use a medium other than a business networking site to express your love for animals. An example of a picture that might produce different impressions upon different viewers is a picture of you with a baby.
On the one hand, babies are simply cute and may cause the employer to have an automatic “ah gee” reaction and instinctively connect, while on the other hand, seeing you with a small child may instead initiate doubt in the mind of the employer as to whether you will be so busy with children at home that you won’t have the necessary energy to devote to work.
This should be less problematic to decide upon, but still not everyone does it well. I view this as similar to how you consider a referee in a sports match; if you notice them at all then they are doing a poor job. Some variation, possibly in both Hebrew and English, of “You have reached Joe Blow, please leave a message” is to me simple yet effective. The musical/funny kind of messages, while maybe causing a smile to appear on the listener’s face, could also backfire. Many people seem to accept the default cell phone system message, which does not identify the person that is called (only the telephone number) using a robotic voice, something that always leaves me wondering why the person didn’t invest the 5-10 minutes to personalize this. And, without meaning to state the obvious, if you have voice mail on your cell phone (and all job seekers should give the caller the ability to leave a message), don’t forget to check your messages regularly and call people back promptly.
Who Answers Your Phone?
On many occasions I have called the telephone number on the CV, only to have a young child answer the phone. Using my own children as an example, I receive only a small percentage of the messages that they take, and the fact that I allowed a youngster to answer my “business” telephone leaves an unknown (and hard to believe positive) impression on the caller. As long as you have a cell phone with voice mail, I don’t see any reason to include your home telephone. And think twice before you let others answer your cell phone.
Are any of these things critical to your job search success? Maybe not, but still, each little thing you can do to make a more favorable impression towards employers of interest is worth an effort.
Ron Machol - Aug 2009
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