I recently updated my LinkedIn profile. I’ve had an account for years, but rarely used it, but the time has come to embrace the platform. For those not familiar with it, it is a ‘business and employment oriented social networking site’ sounds fun, right? Of course the profile picture was one of the first things to be updated and as LinkedIn Career Expert Nicole Williams told Forbes.com, “You’re seven times more likely to have your profile viewed if you have one.”
As a photo editor and a mum, my phone is constantly full with any combination of shoot locations, image references, ballet recitals and cat pictures. It would be possible, I suspect, to count on one hand the number of images of me that have been taken in the past year and certainly none of them are of the solo–selfie variety.
I’m not someone who likes to be photographed, like many people in my field, my happy place is most firmly behind the camera. It is possible my daughter will look back and wonder where I was most of her childhood, because in front of the camera I certainly was not.
I scrolled through my phone and I kid you not, the only shot of me was from New Year’s Eve and includes my daughter climbing over my back. So the resolution to take more pictures together worked out well then? So then came the question: to upload or not to upload?
I did a little research to see what the general feeling on profile images is and not surprisingly, here are a few of the classic no-nos:
Don’t use a full length shot, especially not one of those running on the beach at sunrise style images (that we ALL have, no?)
If you can, avoid taking it yourself…even if you have ‘go go gadget arms’ or even cooler, a selfie stick. If you do have either of these or just need to do it yourself, be aware of the angle. Remember how awful it is when you accidentally open your camera when you’re scrolling through instagram? *shudder* You want to be in eyeline with the camera or hold if just very slightly higher, but don’t go crazy, this isn’t a Kardashian’s Instagram feed.
Don’t use a picture of your cat or favourite cartoon character…even if Sponge Bob Square Pants was based on you.
Don’t pull a strange ‘selfie face’. A relaxed, natural expression or a slight smile is good. Zoolander’s Blue Steel will not help you here.
And here are some Do’s
Choose an image that looks like you – that headshot from college does not count…unless you graduated in the last year or two!
Make sure your face takes up 60% of the frame
Choose a simple background
Natural lighting is your friend, as is early morning or late afternoon sun.
Did you know LinkedIn have rules regarding profile pictures? If they do not deem your image choice compliant with their User Agreement they will reject it, three strikes and you’re out, you’ll be blocked from uploading anything at all, so this is a serious business.
Living in a time of Snapchat and Instagram filters ‘authentic’ has become a buzzword, so I am loathed to use it, so let’s say my choice came from a ‘place of honesty’. I currently have three ‘jobs‘; one that I love and thankfully it pays, one I do for the love and one I would love to be paid to do. It occurred to me that at work I have access to the best photographers, stylists, hair and make-up artists and if I get super desperate – retouchers. But I didn’t see the point in wearing make-up I never wear, styling my hair in a way that, as those who have read this post will know, never happens. Wearing clothes I can’t afford, being photographed in light that requires some serious wattage and at least one assistant brandishing a light meter.
Then there is the fact that I am putting out there front and centre that I have a small human in the first place. Risky business you might say, but we are in a time right now where the opportunity for flexible work has never been better. It’s still not perfect of course, and some fields, companies, managers are leaning in to the Miranda-Kerr-doing-yoga level flexible while others are still stiffer than the Queen at a swinger’s party…actually can we pause for a moment to acknowledge the picture of Anna Wintour and the Queen in the front row at Fashion Week in London recently? If you’ve been hiding under a rock, or are taking an Instagram sabbatical you can see the glorious shots here. See, even she’s moving with the times!
I think being a working mother who has managed to continue, or in fact progress her career despite juggling the long hours, sleepless nights and tugged heartstrings should be seen as an achievement. And we all know who the experts are when it comes to time management now don’t we? I’m also tired of having to hide the fact that yes, I might prefer to work part time so I can pick my daughter up from school once or twice a week, or that there will be days when I would like to attend, guilt-free, one of those bum-numbingly-long, middle of the day assemblies, to watch, in person, my daughter being presented with an award, rather than via photos sent by a friend. It cuts both ways on that one too, why DO schools insist on holding these events in the middle of the day? I have an inside track on that, and will be reporting back soon!
A friend shared a post on Instagram of a quote by journalist Annabel Crabb that I think sums up perfectly the traditional struggle of working mothers:
But as Dylan said, ‘the times they are a-changin’ and while a 50/50 balance is as realistic as running out of the school gates and tripping over a unicorn crapping pay-rises on the way to work, perhaps now is the time to start having those slightly awkward conversations and jumping on the flexibility train. It’s not about working less (unless that is in fact what you want to do, in which case I say, go for it!), but about working smarter and more flexibly and perhaps a review as to IF you get the job done, rather than how you go about it, is in order, because I am sure I’m not alone in missing the Christmas concert because a deadline loomed, or missing dinner three nights in a row, staying back alone at the office to make sure a project runs smoothly for the team, all of which could have been achieved with a laptop, good wifi and a couple of hours working uninterrupted once the kids were in bed. This isn’t possible in every line of work I know, but for those who can work remotely, or even perhaps trade a later finish for a couple of hours to watch their kid at the swimming carnival, the rewards to the business are great; less stressed, more engaged, more productive staff who are delivering the results – and crucially, they shouldn’t be made to feel guilty about it. Because it’s a two-way street and while women have been forging ahead in one direction, it’s time employers met us in the middle, don’t you think?
I am fortunate in that after years of working full time, sometimes 14 hour days and barely seeing my family, or running around like a headless chicken, dropping off early in the morning and trying to get back before daycare or aftercare closed to collect an exhausted child who was spending 10 hours a day, every day in someone else’s care, I now work part-time and job share with an amazing work-wife, I was also able to negotiate a later start in exchange for a later finish, so I can do drop off in the mornings, while Dad does aftercare pick ups, which while still not perfect and with other drawbacks, has certainly shifted the balance back a little towards my family and the benefits for us outweigh any awkward conversations on the work side of things. And I’m not adverse to bringing a little work home with me occasionally to do in my free time, to help shimmy things along in the office when deadlines are tight. I need to get better about asking to leave to get to a parent’s evening, or to switch up hours to attend other events, but I’m getting there, and the more we all do it, the less taboo it will be. Technology is making things easier for us too, and hopefully businesses will begin to see the benefits of a more flexible working environment (less office based staff = less rent paid on desk space for example). And let’s be frank, we’re mothers goddammit, and that means we know how to get shit done! So stop letting employers make us feel guilty for not fitting the antiquated, male created 9-5 workday mold, embrace technology, look for solutions and find a way to shift the balance – but stop looking for the damn unicorn, there is no such thing as the perfect work/life balance, every day is different and the more flexible we can be with our expectation of ourselves, and our employers can be with the ways in which we work, the easier it will be. And when the pendulum swings we’ll ride it – like Miley Cyrus on her wrecking ball – because we will get the job done, we always have haven’t we?
We should be proud of everything we achieve both professionally and as mothers, and so while this may have been the only picture I had, it shows who I truly am, no clever angles, no fancy styling, along with my greatest achievement to date; a beautiful human (that I grew for 9 months while still working btw!). This is my authentic, professional, nurturing, badass, superwoman self…#NoFilterRequired.
Does this sound familiar to you? Or am I just cray-cray? What are your thoughts/experiences? I’d love to hear from you either in the comments below or you can connect through our Instagram or Facebook pages.