An avatar is a digital photo or graphic image used to represent you online. It may be your profile photo on LinkedIn or an image on your blog. The purpose of the avatar is to help those in the virtual world connect with you when they are viewing your profile, reading your blog, or visiting your website. For many people, this is their first visual connection with you, so the task of choosing an avatar should not be taken lightly. Over the years, we have seen a lot of avatars…the good, the bad, and the downright scary! Let’s examine avatars so you can select an image that supports your brand and helps others to connect with you.
Do you ever see someone’s image and even after you enlarge it, you still can’t see the face? The best way to form a connection with someone is through a headshot. A headshot is just that, a tight photo of your face. Headshots with a pleasant smile and eyes looking into the camera are proven to facilitate a connection with the reader. Artsy side view photos (a la F. Scott Fitzgerald) or ones with eyes looking away exhibit body language of avoidance or distance. Aloof is not a good image when you want to connect with customers or potential employers.
Take the time to be sure your face and hair look great. Photoshop is an awesome tool to whiten the teeth a bit and smudge a wrinkle or two. However, don’t go overboard. Also, update your photo every couple of years. You want to look appealing, but recognizable.
Do you notice the background when corporate CEOs, sports figures and politicians, give a statement? The background is carefully set with a backdrop with logos, executive style office, or the iconic marble hall of Congress. First, the backgrounds never distract from the speaker. Secondly, they foster an image of professionalism. Do the same with your headshot photo. You can’t go wrong with a clean plain background. Whatever you choose, make sure it is clean, uncluttered, and does not distract from your face.
Never Ever Make These Mistakes
There are certain things that are never appropriate for your avatar. These choices scream, “Unprofessional!” Avoid these mistakes:
- The bathroom mirror selfie.
- The unflattering snap of yourself looking into your laptop camera.
- Holding phones or other props to simulate your work activities.
- Vacation shots, especially beach shots or any shots in which you are not dressed professionally.
- Photos with sports cars, motorcycles, boats, etc.
- Photos with other people (this includes children, celebrities, and significant others).
- Cartoons or celebrity photos.
Your avatar is your first contact with someone visiting your blog or Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook page. Choose an image to engage the visitor and start a connection. Everyone judges others based on their avatar. The truly scary images are often forwarded along with a comment, like “Can you believe this one?” The good avatars prompt you to take a second look and continue reading the profile or blog. People will feel as though they have a sense of who you are based on the genuine and professional headshot that you place online.
We would like to extend our gratitude to Debra Wheatman at Careers Done Write for permission to share her blog. She is an experienced human capital management strategist who will help you take the next step up your career ladder.
If you are ready to take the next steps in your career or if you would like us to help strengthen your organization, please contact The Davidson Group for executive placement services. Give us a call at 415-893-1020 or drop us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can search all of our current opportunities at www.davidsongroup.com.