Last Updated May 4, 2010 7:11 AM EDT
Common wisdom for the last hundred or so years has been to keep your photo and your credentials completely separate. Good advice, especially if you're the job candidate who once sent me a portrait of herself sprawled over the top of a grand piano like a torch singer. (She either sold pianos or was an insurance actuary. Whatever. The point is, I still remember the picture but not her resume.)
In the age of social media, however, the rules have become a bit more plastic. People who post a no-nonsense, kick-ass business profile may think it's a good idea to accompany it with a shot of themselves in front of a fireplace next to the family Scottish Terrier. Occasionally you'll even see people at leisure, possibly out among nature -- or holding a wine glass full of something full-bodied while their red eyes flicker demonically. Your next VP of marketing? Don't think so.
So what are the guidelines? First, tell me why you've included this particular image. Because you like that outfit from your sister's wedding? Huh. I can see it must have been a nice affair. Oh, is that your favorite recliner? Well, you look really comfortable in it. Sure you want a new job? Law and Order is coming on in just a few minutes.
Movie producer Robert Evans has said that if he wears a new tie to a dinner party, he can tolerate one compliment -- maybe two. When a third person tells him what a nice tie he's wearing, he takes it off. "The tie is supposed to make me look good," he says. "Not the other way around."
Same goes for your mug. Can we see your face clearly? Is it strictly business? Was the photo professionally done? Does it improve on your qualifications? Finally ... are you attractive enough to be judged on looks alone? Because that's what you're inviting people to do. And you can't have it both ways, hoping to add cachet but claiming discrimination if you wind up getting rejected before the first date.
If it's a solid asset, great, use it -- as long as you're absolutely certain that it projects the soul of professionalism. But keep in mind you may be dismissed from consideration regardless of your credentials -- which quite possibly will never be examined Â-- 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.
Image by Collectie SPAARNESTAD PHOTO/Ufa/Het Leven