“This will be fun,” he said, a maniacal glint in his eye (perhaps also rubbing his hands together).
I’m actually a little surprised that LinkedIn would give people such a gratuitous way to shoot themselves in the foot, but I guess we’ll have to wait and see. I’m sure there are some people who will use custom backgrounds to enhance their profiles and give them a little spark. My guess is, though, that the people who make good use of it are the ones who don’t really need the additional bonus points. Meanwhile, thousands (if not millions?) of people will put up… what? Cute cat pictures? Current memes (that quickly become outdated)? Gritty Game of Thrones pictures? Iridescent scuba diving photos (a suggestion in the rotating images from the email above) which, while beautiful, add nothing that tells a potential employer about the competency of the candidate?
I’m trying to think if 23-year-old Nels was smart enough to know not to put a strip of basketballs bouncing across the top of his profiles… And even if he was, how many other people won’t be?
But it’s not just that the opportunity with this seems so severely limited compared to the potential for disaster… On a technical level, it’s a completely “Me too” feature already available on people’s Facebook and Twitter pages. I don’t really go to people’s Twitter pages since I use TweetBot, but I’ve seen a lot of Facebook Cover Photos and only two or three of them have actually made me think “Wow, that’s cool.” And even those are not images that would have made me want to hire someone, unless I was looking for a graphic designer or a photographer. Speaking of graphic designers, though, I guess this does give them something else to do, so in that sense maybe it’s helping the economy… But the people who are consciously thinking about “their brand” to the extent that they’d hire a graphic designer to create a custom LinkedIn background are, again, probably the people who make good candidates without the custom background.
Since I encourage my colleagues to come up with solutions rather than just complaining about issues, and I try to follow that advice myself, here’s my tips for using the LinkedIn custom backgrounds:
- Don’t. Easy as that. If you’re not a graphic designer and don’t have a friend to make a nice background for you, then just don’t. No one is going to take away “hiring points” if you don’t have a background. But they might if you throw up a wallpaper of the WWE Divas because you’re totally into wrestling.
- Go to the complete opposite end of the spectrum and have someone create you a professional background that represents the business professional that you want your profile to project. It looks like you might be able to get one for $5 over at Fiverr.com. Or if you really want a “brand”, you can probably put together a total marketing package at 99designs.com.