The One Thing Missing From Your LinkedIn Profile

By David Schepp

With now more than 200 million members, LinkedIn ( LNKD) has become a social media powerhouse -- and a vehicle for many job hunters. But merely creating a profile and dumping your resume on the site won't result in offers of employment suddenly flowing in.

Experts say it's important to take at least one more step -- adding a photo. "People think that when they upload their resume, they're done," says Wayne Breitbarth, a social-media trainer and consultant. By adding a head shot, you can "bring a friendly identity" to your page. LinkedIn profiles without photos signal to many recruiters that a candidate isn't as credible as someone who's taken the time to create a fuller profile, he says.

Having a photo can also help you become more visible when recruiters search LinkedIn for possible candidates. Recruiters' eyes routinely skip search results that have no photo. "From that standpoint, you're just not grabbing their attention," Breitbarth says. "Even an ugly picture is going to be better than no picture."

Research suggests Breitbarth is right. A study by psychology professor Nicholas Salter of Ramapo College of New Jersey showed that even people who worry that they may be perceived as unattractive benefit from having a photo on LinkedIn. Salter's experiment found that when test subjects were offered identical profiles they preferred those with a photo over those without one.

"People just want to look at you," Salter told The Kansas City Star, adding that his research found that "having no picture was worse than having an unattractive picture."

Beyond a photo, Breitbarth says it's important to create a profile that incorporates LinkedIn's other features, such as endorsements and recommendations. Adding anecdotes about accomplishments or pictures of past projects, for example, can do much in creating more interest in you as a possible candidate.

He adds that whether we like it or not, in this digital age, we're all on display. And with an increasing number of employers seeking out people who aren't looking for jobs, "having a good LinkedIn profile is going to help you find your next great opportunity -- whether you're ready for it or not," Breitbarth says. "That's what's so exciting about it."

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