Does Perception Trump All?

Four pictures of a man with a beard, a goatee, a mustache, and clean-shaven

“Perception is truth.” Have you ever heard that saying?

In reality, perception is one’s interpretation of truth, but how many times does that not matter? And how can that be detrimental to your job hunt, to your career, to you?

Perception is truth… online

In social media, perception is all that matters. Folks will make fairly quick  judgments about you based solely on how you present yourself.

The picture you use on your profiles will be seen as a glimpse into your personality.

Try to see your picture as a first-time viewer of your profile would. Do you like what you see? Do you look friendly? Excited? Confident? Or do you look disheveled (e.g. unprofessional)? Arrogant?

Not using a picture isn’t a good choice, either — people may assume that you are a spammer or a bot and choose not to follow you simply because of that.

What are you saying?

Again, try to see things from an outside perspective. Are you adding value to your audience with your insights? Are you asking questions that delve into their needs? Are you argumentative? Negative about being out of work or your current employment? Agreeing with everything people say without expressing your own opinions? Are you “that guy/girl” who accosts people with “my wants, my needs, me, me, glorious me!”

Also consider how it is written. How is your spelling and grammar? If you are conveying an emotion (particularly sarcasm), are you sure that your audience will understand the intention of your message without the help of voice inflections and body language?

Have you cleaned up your “digital dirt?”

Facebook is an especially important place to clean up. With the privacy settings changing all the time, make sure that yours are set appropriately to not reveal any personal information that could compromise your candidacy. Also, remove from your account any photos of you that show you in a less-than-flattering light and untag yourself from photos like that on your friends’ accounts.

You want to make sure that you don’t blow the first impression you make, so be honest with yourself when looking at your online profiles. If you find it difficult to do that, have a friend whom you trust to give you honest feedback to take a look.

Image courtesy of Paul Stevenson

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