With everyone pressed for time and email inboxes overflowing, one of the worst things you can do is fire off an email that is unread, left lingering or summarily deleted. Not only do poor emails waste time on both ends – minutes and hours that could be used more productively – but they also may create negative impressions about your ability to think, solve problems and communicate.

If you want to be known as someone who acts strategically, demonstrates leadership and otherwise has a positive professional outlook, writing better emails is a crucial place to start.

 ✔︎ Prepare

 ✔︎ Write

 ✔︎ Review

 ✔︎ Follow-Up

Click here or on the icon below to read my results-driven system to writing effective emails on Forbes.com. Click here to request my 12-point checklist “Write Emails that Get Results.”

fb456860008648447783c0751c3e7a5f

Anne Marie Segal is an executive coach, author, resume strategist and member of Forbes Coaches Council. She is founder of Segal Coaching, author of Master the Interview: A Guide for Working Professionals (available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and through local booksellers) and a frequent public speaker in New York, Connecticut and beyond.

Image credit: Adobe Images.

What makes a “good” photo is subjective and somewhat elusive, right?

When you are talking about art photography, yes. What appeals to one person may not make any impression on another. In the case of LinkedIn profile pictures, however, there are some basic principles that apply. I have addressed some of these in my earlier articles here and here, and in response many readers have asked me to post what I would consider “good” LinkedIn profile shots. So here are some great shots of four different men (credit: Adobe Images, not real profiles).

Remember that the tone of your LinkedIn profile photo should match the brand that you wish to portray. If you want to project that you have executive presence, your LinkedIn profile photo should communicate that (see images 1 and 2 below). If you tend toward the creative in your work – regardless of your field, from visual, theater or culinary arts to science, technology or even (in some cases) finance – a more creative photo may be appropriate (see image 3 below). If you are a professional but more about substance than form and rarely wear a suit, you may wish to skip the suit in your profile picture (see image 4 below). In all, your LinkedIn photo and profile generally should be a calling card for who you are if someone were to meet you in “real life” (in a business context, of course).

IMG_0422 (LinkedIn size smiling man in suit)Successful black business man ceo downtown workspace proud confident arms crossedIMG_0418 (LinkedIn man in blue suit)An Indian business executive with folded arms

Remember that your LinkedIn profile picture will likely not be the same size as the original image, so pay attention to the background and finer details with an eye for the ultimate image as it will look when cropped to size. In image 3 above, the peeling paint (and tousled hair) add to the creative look of this shot, but otherwise the above backgrounds are interchangeable and not tied to the image each is hoping to portray. Some people like to have a background with more “visual information” while others prefer a clean, neutral look. Note that neither of the original shots for the first two images were centered, and in the second one the background could have been distracting in the original composition but it nonetheless works for LinkedIn.

Head And Shoulders Portrait Of Mature Businessman In OfficeSuccessful black business man ceo downtown workspace proud confident arms crossed

One last note, as I see this far too often on LinkedIn (and almost as much as a shot of someone with another person cropped out – don’t do that!). Make sure that when you take an image or have one taken of you, that the camera is or zooms in close enough to the subject so that the image does not look blurry or pixilated when cropped. Below is an extreme example, but I see this often with clients who have a spouse or friend take a picture and then send it to me for review. If you are out of focus, you will not project the confidence and presence that you wish to convey. 

IMG_0416 (pixilated enlargment man in suit)

This last image has another issue, of course, which is that it was cropped very close and has a very light background, so the person looks more like a talking head than a professional candidate.

If you would like to compare the do’s and don’ts of LinkedIn profile pictures, you can also visit my prior articles on LinkedIn photos here and here.

Anne Marie Segal is an executive coach, author, resume strategist and member of Forbes Coaches Council. She is founder of Segal Coaching, author of Master the Interview: A Guide for Working Professionals (available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and through local booksellers) and a frequent public speaker in New York, Connecticut and beyond.

 

Kirkus Reviews
“The most trusted voice in book reviews since 1933”

As an indie author, when you submit your book to Kirkus Reviews, you hold your breath waiting to hear what they will write. They are not the only voice, but they are quite an important one! Fortunately, I have good news to report! 

book-cover-design-front

Here’s what the Kirkus reviewer wrote about Master the Interview: A Guide for Working Professionals:

“….integrating open-ended questions and self-assessment exercises into each chapter… is probably the strongest aspect of the book…”

“…a particularly helpful chapter discusses how to answer the toughest ones, such as ‘What are your weaknesses?’”

“One of the more valuable chapters steps through ‘nine common blocks’ and how to overcome them…”

“Throughout this book, Segal consistently offers positive, uplifting guidance while adopting an objective yet empathetic tone.”

“A self-directed, interactive manual that should benefit experienced and new job-seekers alike.”

To read the full review, please click here or visit: https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/anne-marie-segal/master-interview.

Anne Marie Segal is an executive coach, writer, resume strategist and member of Forbes Coaches Council. She is founder of Segal Coaching, author of Master the Interview: A Guide for Working Professionals (available online at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and many local booksellers) and a frequent public speaker in New York, Connecticut and beyond. 

I was honored to speak to University of Chicago alumni last month about highlights from my recent book, Master the Interview: A Guide for Working Professionals.

If you are currently in the job search, looking opportunistically or willing to move for the right role, you will save yourself hours in your interview preparation – mitigating stress and uncertainty in the process and increasing your chance of a job offer – by watching and listening to the discussions in this webinar.

Here are two of the many points I make that will help “frame” your preparation:

  1. You are “on interview” well before you enter the actual interview room. It behooves you to take an expanded view of interviewing, from the initial contact with companies and networking (including social media) to your follow-up efforts thereafter.
  2. While you cannot anticipate every question that will be asked in an interview, you can have examples ready that align with your value proposition and are versatile enough to be responsive to a range of questions. Thinking about questions thematically will help you organize and bring more impact to your potential responses.

For the slides to follow along to the presentation (or speed up the learning process), please click here.

Anne Marie Segal is a career and leadership development coach, author, resume strategist and member of Forbes Coaches Council. She is founder of Segal Coaching, author of Master the Interview: A Guide for Working Professionals (available on Amazon.com) and a frequent public speaker in New York, Connecticut and beyond. 

At least once a week, I am asked to comment on a LinkedIn profile picture. As an executive coach with a prior background in art (in addition to law), I base my opinion not only on good taste but also on the principals of photography and design.

I mentioned in my last post that I wanted to give my readers an opportunity to view and contemplate some LinkedIn-sized and styled pictures before giving my recommendations and highlighting insights that each one can teach us about our own profile shots. In this post, I have included many of those prior images and more.

There are some of the obvious points, such as good focus and high enough resolution, that we can all see (if we are paying attention). But what else could we do to make our images even better?

If you clicked on a LinkedIn profile for this person with the image below – full disclosure: all of these are samples from Adobe Images, not from real profiles – would you be inclined to connect with him or her?

I give some feedback below that can help you understand how to look at images more objectively and improve your own profile picture on LinkedIn.

AdobeStock_129949762 (cropped at podium)

Some people like to have “action shots” that show them in leadership roles. To that extent, the image above works. However, pointing off to the side of the image takes the viewer’s eye in that direction as well, and away from one’s image and profile generally. It also makes this person look closed off rather than approachable. Further, the words in the background are distracting and do not add any credibility (compare, for example, someone on the Tedx stage). That said, an action shot that is professional and well-done can sometimes work well.

African American businesswoman

A lot of things are done well in this picture. It is generally well-cropped – it could be a bit tighter at the top – and the person is dressed professionally. However, she does not look happy in this shot, and the lighting on her hair and background is distracting. This is the most common type of picture that I see, i.e., one that makes the person look “good enough” to be happy with the picture but nonetheless does not show him/her in the best light (literally and figuratively). Some people don’t like to show their teeth, but you can smile more with the eyes in that case.

The above picture has the same issue with the distracting lighting in the background, although the lighting on the individual is better. This woman has chosen to have her hand in the picture, which sets it off as a more individualized shot and may be appropriate for certain fields where someone is asked to connect with people emotionally. For example, a therapist or a fiction writer may benefit from an image like this. By contrast, a litigator who needs to show an ability to meet challenging situations head on would not want to have an image that is too “approachable” or “soft.”

sailing man captainsailing man captain

Some people like to highlight their hobbies in LinkedIn profile pictures. Here’s my response. First of all, if you crop too closely (first image of two), you lose the entire point of the picture, and the various design elements end up looking distracting. This is the same point I would make to those who put up a photo with another individual cropped out of it (such as a shot at a wedding, with a spouse or significant poking into the side or corners of the image). The resulting image is similarly distracting and does not communicate that you are a serious, focused candidate.

In general, being too dressed down or too dressed up (think tuxedo for men, for example) may also give the impression that you are not willing to adapt yourself to a work environment but instead have your own agenda which will always or often trump the employer’s. So only if (1) one has an independent source of income, and LinkedIn is not a significant source of career or business leads or (2) these details are actually related to one’s career or business (e.g., if the man above were involved in marine work), would such a LinkedIn profile picture make sense. This is where the “LinkedIn is not Facebook” distinction comes into play. LinkedIn is about work, not pleasure, so wear your work face (presentation, wardrobe, etc.)

I should add that if you look closely at the man’s face, the top half of his face is in shadow and the bottom half is in sun. Once you notice this element of the photograph – as some of your LinkedIn viewers will do – the uneven lighting is quite distracting and casts a soft shadow (pun intended) on your attention to detail. In this image, it is not as pronounced as in other photographs I have seen.

Beautiful young adult lawyer business woman professional in a suit at the courthouse

There is a lot I like about the shot above. It is clean, interesting and engaging. But don’t miss little details. The red nail polish, that is, has got to go. It is out of character and distracting, and it shows a lack of attention to detail.

shutterstock_146589713 (resolve)

This is a good shot in many ways, although the person is not looking into the camera, and the cropping is quite close. In an artistic field (for example), this may be appropriate, but not in a corporate setting.

Asian man portrait

When I look at the above shot, I can’t help but wonder if the individual dresses like this all the time and if it conveys his “true self.” Not all of us need to be in suits, and some people prefer LinkedIn to express how they will show up every day. If that is your personal brand, then this sort of image may work. 

Waitress serving food to visitors

In this shot, the person’s shoulders are off-kilter, which is distracting and could subtly take away from her credibility. The background is also overwhelming – especially the lights – as is the lipstick. If this person were my client, I would suggest she try again with a new shot.

woman with brunette hair standing posing

For this last one, I would say watch the sleeveless look as well as the posture and “pout.” Again, LinkedIn isn’t Facebook. Would you wear it for a meeting with the CEO? If not, it’s not the right look.

Anne Marie Segal is a career and leadership development coach, author, resume strategist and member of Forbes Coaches Council. She is founder of Segal Coaching, author of Master the Interview: A Guide for Working Professionals (available on Amazon.com) and a frequent public speaker in New York, Connecticut and beyond. 

Image credits above: Adobe Images.

Thanks to those who attended my webinar today on 20 Top Resume Challenges. In this short half-hour course, I give you an overview of the major points you need to know to write a modern resume.

Here is the replay, and the slide deck and related Forbes article are referenced in the YouTube description.

Stop fighting. Start writing!

Image credit: Adobe Image

“If you develop your brand without knowing your value proposition first, you will have a very shallow brand.” – Anne Marie Segal at Forbes.com

Join me in Stamford, CT on May 4, 2017 for a small group workshop on developing your value proposition for networking, business development and job search.

Please click here for details.

If you can’t join us, here’s an article you may like to help think further about value:

Six Key Value Proposition Questions to Understanding Your Personal ROI.”

business team

Anne Marie Segal is a career and leadership development coach, author, resume strategist and member of Forbes Coaches Council. She is founder of Segal Coaching, author of Master the Interview: A Guide for Working Professionals (available on Amazon.com) and a frequent public speaker in New York, Connecticut and beyond. 

Image credit: Adobe Images.