Tuesday, 15 January 2013

The (almost) Naked Truth About the Recruitment Profession

Warning: this article contains numerous references to female breasts, so, if easily offended, look away now!

Let me describe a couple of images that I have got opened up on my laptop as I'm writing this. They are ones which I don't feel very comfortable in having on public display, so if anyone looks over my shoulder as I'm writing, I'll be mouse-clicking onto the BBC Home Page.

(Incidentally the names and some of the details have been changed to avoid further embarrassment.)

The first is a picture of Lisa. There's no doubt about it, she's an attractive girl, and she knows it too. In her (I guess) mid 20's, her hair cascades over her shoulders displaying her matching earrings and necklace. She's also got an amazing pair of breasts. I know this, because most of her picture has been cropped to show them off to good effect. Her plunging neckline means that a large proportion of her breasts are uncovered, and the area that is beyond view is very tightly constrained in her party dress. Yes, Lisa is a stunning young lady.

The second is of Jade. She's a mother of three and motherhood appears to be treating her well. She clearly knows how to apply make up, and how to respond to a camera. Her head is leaning to one side, her hair falling down over her shoulders and upper arm. Her simple necklace is resting at the top of her cleavage, a great deal of which is there to be seen. The thin straps and plunging neckline of her simple blue t-shirt mean that probably less that 25% of her lightly-tanned upper body is covered. Like Lisa, Jade is a beauty.

The images described above are the sort of photographs of either a wife or a girlfriend that I'd expect a man to have in his wallet rather than on display in the office, so I hope that by now  you're wondering exactly how these pictures have found their way onto my laptop.

The answer is surprisingly simple, and somewhat concerning: they are both public profile pictures of professional recruitment consultants on LinkedIn.

Those readers who know me will be aware that I may be many things, but a prude is not one of them, but I'm genuinely concerned on a professional level at the way that some individuals appear content to display themselves on social media sites such as LinkedIn. I'm not alone in this either: colleagues (both male and female) who have seen the profile pictures referenced above have responded with comments such as "Speechless" and "Blimey, looks like an escapee from a Barbie-Doll convention."

If I was being generous, perhaps I should assume that Lisa and Jade have simply mixed up their LinkedIn and Hot or Not accounts. But I doubt that this is the case.

Let's put this in context: as a senior HR professional, I regularly have responsibility for selecting recruitment providers, and I would not contemplate for one moment engaging either an individual who regarded it as acceptable to display such a profile picture, or indeed a recruitment consultancy whose control over its employees was so lax as to allow them to post such inappropriate pictures in a public and professional forum.

Such public profiles show off the recruitment sector in an extremely poor light, and portray its members as shallow, unprofessional, concerned with surface image and (I am sorry to have to put it like this) somewhat smutty.

Recruiters: if you wish people to take you seriously, you need to smarten up and cover up a bit too.

And, just to make sure that the finger is not pointed just at those at one end of the recruitment spectrum, if you are a candidate "seeking a new position" don't post a picture of yourself in what looks like a baby-doll nightie. Yes. Honestly.


  1. Great post Graham. I have seen a number of other photos that would fall under this category; my personal favourite was the gentleman with an empty pint glass on is head!

    It would be interesting to see the figures for how many people viewed their profiles. I would suggest they're probably quite high, however despite the adage of there's no such thing as bad publicity I can't imagine many visitors took them seriously. Nevertheless, one thing to consider is that maybe the profile is not real. There are numerous fake profiles on LinkedIn used for spam purposes and maybe the thought process is that an attractive photo will encourage people to connect?

    1. The "possibly fake" thought is an interesting one. If that's true, it makes me even more concerned at the depths that some would go to in order to attract connections.

      Of the people that I mentioned, at least one was in the 500+ connections category. More worryingly there was the "Housewife and Mother of Three" detail added on her profile. If a female was asked about her marital status and family situation at interview, she could rightly call foul, so to add that information on the profile reveals a high level of naivety from someone involved in the recruitment profession.