First Impressions…

14-06-17 Assel Aitbayeva 0 comment

There is a lot of research out there that says that first impressions still count – a recent article claimed that 67% of hiring managers  are affected by the impression someone makes as they enter the room and in their very first utterances.

As someone who has met countless people (hundreds if not now thousands of clients, hires and workshop trainees over the years) I have long been fascinated by how individuals initially present themselves, the impression they make and, on occasions the difference between how they obviously think they are impacting others  and the reality.

With considerable time now spent on LinkedIn I thought a lighthearted look at impressions from the “people you may know” gallery may be at least a little entertaining!

Cars, motor bikes et. al.:

Guys, what is it with this obsession of being photographed next to your car, motor bike or other “cool” form of transport – I think I once saw someone on a toboggan!  As someone who renovated cars for many years I have learned that the only people interested in our ride is us and if you are looking to connect with like-minded  individuals the local car club is probably a better option than LinkedIn.

Shades (sunglasses):

Mainly for the guys again but ladies are guilty too. Cool look I know – for the beach in particular – but our eyes say a lot about us and likely your target audience would want to see them. I was once developing an L&D team and an obviously talented guy was not receiving the positive feedback from participants expected. After some investigation we found his preference for wearing heavily tinted glasses was creating rapport difficulties. When he changed to clear his evaluations improved.

Hats and all that:

Not sure what sort of impact you are looking for here – a yellow top hat or a green leprechaun one certainly gets you noticed but……. I was a serious golfer for many years and as a number of senior leaders also play I probably got more exposure than most to top teams. My colleagues used to rib me about this but I told them “I might have more exposure but this provides more time for them to determine whether I’m an OK guy or a “plonker” and if it’s the latter a higher profile does me less rather than more good. Being noticed for your hat may not impact in the way you intend!!

The strange:

Sitting with your back to the camera at your desk (or on the beach), colour filters and dark areas, flowers and landscapes, “live life to the full” messages, various hand signals – all intriguing but cannot quite put my finger on how I am meant to interpret this. Perhaps your target market will understand it but I’m just confused! I am particularly baffled by the hand signals – I don’t actually know what some of them mean – but I relate this to my observations of how the Beatles changed the world. Yes, musically but also via language and for a while everything was “fab” and “groovy” and then it suddenly wasn’t and became “naff”. I have a feeling that some audiences will see these hand signals as the latter.

And the weird:

By far the most unusual photo I’ve seen was of a hand holding a cup cake! That’s right, a hand holding a cup cake.  I was tempted to investigate further – perhaps they worked for a bakery (which would have some logic to it) or, more mysterious, a group of cup cake admirers was forming a Linked sub-group? But, I chose not to click and there is a message in that somewhere.

Photo or not?:

Of course we have not looked at whether we should include a photo at all. No doubt like some of you I initially did not include a photo on my profile – on the grounds that what I look like shouldn’t matter and in HR we strive constantly to have people decisions made on merit. – rather than gender, age, looks etc. Then LinkedIn write to you and say you will get 3 times more profile views with a photo and commercial reality overtakes principle. Now, my face has what is politely called a “lived-in” look and, with two small children, I always look like a need a good night’s sleep (which I do). However, I have come to the conclusion that most clients will want what is on the inside of my head rather than the outside (taking a risk on me falling asleep half way through a session) and I probably wouldn’t want to work for those that value the former.

And so:

What to make of all this? A LinkedIn member has recently written a more serious post, advising on how best to present ourselves on LinkedIn and I defer to him for you to take advice.

However, I would point out that we are creating an impression with our photos, titles and brief statements in the gallery. I am a bit long in the tooth to appreciate some of the more creative and “stand out from the crowd” efforts – perhaps your target audience will be more enlightened, but……. maybe not.

Then again maybe I should try a Purple Mohican hairstyle – might get me work in the hairdressing industry but know what my 4 and 5-year-old will say – “Scary Daddy”.

Joel Farnworth MAML (Lancaster UK) and Chartered Fellow CIPD
Design and Developer of BSM’s HRDevprogramme

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