Does a Photo on your Bio Hurt or Help?

[youtube=]All this press about Susan Boyle got me thinking. For those of you who don’t know Ms. Boyle, she’s the overnight phenom made famous by Britain’s version of American Idol. This 47-year-old, self-professed, never-been-kissed, matronly character gave the world a “shock” when she opened her mouth and revealed the voice of a siren. What stunned me was, not her appearance, but the way the audience and judges reacted to her when she walked on the stage. Because she was the opposite of glitz and glam, their guffaws and laughs permeated the auditorium. Everyone ASSUMED that she was going to be a goof. When she proved them wrong, it seems as though the audience, judges and viewers had to recheck themselves, do some quick self analysis and then root for her with all their might. The whole debacle was an embarrassing statement about the human psyche.

No matter how often we tell our children to treat everyone equally and not judge a book by its cover, most of us are guilty of doing just that in our everyday lives. This is true, even when it comes to how we interact with others at work AND how we judge those we are interviewing for jobs. I was just asked yesterday if a picture should go on a bio. Many believe that it should because I’ve seen quite a few photo-laden bios in my life. I don’t think this is such a hot idea. Let’s just call my reasoning the “Susan Boyle Syndrome.”

When there’s a photo on your bio, it’s the first and last thing the reader remembers. The reader may not like the picture, he may think you remind him of an ex-girlfriend, he may think you have a big forehead or he may think you look uber-sexy. All of these reactions effect the way that potential hiring manager is going to choose to move forward. Use your credentials to get the interview. A picture triggers associative thoughts and is just too risky.

The Internet shakes thing up a bit when it comes to the photo question. LinkedIn is a major career-related networking tool and many put their photos up. A photo here does not bother me as much. Why? Simply because the image is such a small part of the picture (so to speak), with so much content surrounding the page. On LinkedIn, you are forced to scroll down and the photo is not the center piece. It’s not banging you over the head like it is when you send a one-page bio out (and, yes your bio should only be one page). Just make sure you use a professional head shot on career networking sites, not one you might use for Facebook.

Carpe diem…


  • wifeoverseas
    April 30, 2009

    But the sad thing is that those judge (Simon Cowell and Piers Morgan), two men for whom appearance is obviously everything – why else have such brilliantly white teeth? – were in such a position as to ridicule Ms Boyle to begin with. And then congratulate themselves on their turn around of opinion once they heard her voice.

  • whatsthegist
    April 30, 2009

    Simon Cowell and Piers Morgan and the lady judge DID know what Susan Boyle was about. You don’t expect anyone stepping on that stage without having been screened beforehand, do you? The sneering ante and cheering apres was mere acting on the judges part. The camerawork of the audience was arranged accordingly. I am sure Susan Boyle had been couched as to the antics before the performance. The “Britan Got Talent” organizers just did another PaulPotts trick cause the 1st one proved a success. I mean to say – Come on.

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