I recently read an article on what people look at when they view a LinkedIn page, especially recruiters. The study involved 30 recruiters looking at LinkedIn pages over 10 weeks. In the study conducted by TheLadders, an eye tracking heatmap shows that recruiters spend 19 percent of the total time they spend on your profile looking at your picture. Then, your current job position and education are glanced at, but not so much time is spent on your skills, specialties or older work experiences.
The fact that your photo carries so much weight was surprising to me. Not only that, but we are quickly judged on our looks. To quote Vivian “you may be dismissed from consideration regardless of your credentials — which quite possibly will never be examined – because you’re bald, overweight, too young, too old, wearing the wrong suit or, cruelest and most unreasonable of all, too beautiful for your own good.” I believe this holds even more true for dating and other meeting sites!
So it is not our credentials, our achievements, or even our skills that matter, it is our looks! This demonstrates the shallowness of human nature to judge on looks. This is especially disappointing when those making the shallow judgement are looking for prospects to review or contact for a possible job. Is it any wonder that psychologists have repeatedly proven that most hiring authorities fail to hire the best candidate? I’ve seen several stories about how the new hire often requires adjustments downward to meet their skills or even worse release them due to lack of skills or compatibility to the position! Shame on us!
I won’t try to claim that I am immune to this human weakness, but I do try to step back and review candidates with a more open viewpoint, setting aside my prejudices and preconceptions. I really do try to look at qualifications first and the photo AFTER I have gotten my initial impression. In my many years of experience, I’ve learned that looks are not everything. I only have to look in the mirror to confirm that fact of life. In addition, some of my best friends and employees will never win a beauty contest, but they are very good at being my friend or doing their jobs in my company. It does not mean I do not judge on looks, but I try to step back and really look at the person as a whole. You should try it. You might improve your company efficiency with that incredibly efficient/idea generating whiz-bang employee some companies are lucky enough to acquire and rely on to be a success.
Next time you look at someone’s profile, try to skip the photo and save it for last. Go right to the summary and qualifications (or interests on a meeting site). Then look at the photo. See if the photo impacts your initial impression of this person. You might be surprised.