Welcome to my regular series entitled "My Light Bulb Moment". This column highlights a "blinding flash of insight" business, cultural and sports leaders have experienced, and how this changed their lives forever.

As a specialist in HR and recruitment, I am always astounded by the lack of care people take about their public "brand". Half-completed LinkedIn profiles, dodgy pictures on Facebook and selfies and tweets that weren't thought through all spell future career disaster for the unwary.

LinkedIn is a massively important part of your brand, and it's imperative your "online brochure" sells and markets you professionally. If a picture paints a thousand words, then your photo is your personal "logo" to a large extent. A 2014 study tracking the eye movements of recruiters by career researchers TheLadders, said recruiters spend approximately 20 per cent of their time looking at LinkedIn photos during their screening process.

So it's vital that we ensure our own photo promotes us professionally to our prospective employers and business networks.

Common photo problems


There are a wide range of common issues I see trawling through candidates on LinkedIn. Some of the main ones are:

• Personal hobbies - unless fishing is a fundamental part of your industry, don't have a photo of you pulling in a large snapper. It just says "I would much rather be doing this, than working for you."

• Busy background - this can be distracting. You want the focus to be on you, not on the background.

• Sunglasses / hat / car / weird top - again these are distracting and take away the professionalism from your picture. A recent photo I saw had a guy wearing dark sunglasses that made him look like he was in the Mafia.

• Wedding shot - though it's great that you are married, this is not the forum to put a photo of you in a suit, cutting your wife out of the photo, but leaving her shoulder in. It also infers you don't have any other pictures of yourself looking professional.

• Blatant selfie - smiling with your arm extended in a selfie does not say "I am a professional - hire me".

• On an angle - in many forums (including LinkedIn), having an 'arty' picture can be cool and can set you apart. However a normal photo of you on a 30-degree angle is not one of these.

• Stretched photos - this happens when a person really loves a particular photo, however it does not fit the LinkedIn measurements so is stretched to fit - a very bad look.


• No photo - I am aware that some people don't want to be judged by their photo, so they choose not to upload one. However their profile then looks incomplete, which does little to gain the confidence of recruiters and potential employers.

• Spend time to make a good logo - These days, any smart phone can create a pleasant and professional photo that ensures you position yourself well alongside others on LinkedIn.

Time to get it out and get snapping.

Contact Tom to speak at your next event - Email tom@tomoneil.com. Tom O'Neil is an award winning business speaker, best-selling international author and MD of both www.CV.CO.NZ and www.TomONeil.com.