Sometimes, you see something you just can’t unsee it. Unfortunately, that seems to be happening to me more and more on LinkedIn.
What was once a very professional website is now host to some very unprofessional things, and it’s frankly shocking. I’ve tried to push it out of my mind, but I just can’t any longer.
I’ve seen an influx of cartoon profile photos, as well as overly casual profile photos of people in baseball caps and other nonprofessional attire. I’m seeing a lot more profile photos with children and pets, too. Heck, I’ve even seen ultrasound photos and posts announcing the births of new babies!
It’s not just bad photos. There are job titles like “Not Channing Tatum’s Dad” and “Defender of the Universe.” Go ahead, do a quick search of your own. You’ll find at least 64 professionals on LinkedIn who are apparently in charge of defending our universe!
At first glance, these things may seem like harmless fun. In fact, you could argue this kind of behavior makes a person more relatable, allowing your LinkedIn connections to learn more about you as a multifaceted human being.
But this is the problem: Not everybody can post photos with their babies and cats on LinkedIn and be taken seriously in the professional world. Not everyone can post a cartoon profile photo and expect to get a new job.
I’ll be honest: The people primarily responsible for these posts and pictures are young male executives in their 30s and 40s. I’m 100 percent certain they have the best of intentions. They want to be funny and down to earth. They want to showcase their families, their lives, and their personalities.
Hear me out: What I’m describing may not seem so bad to you, but understand that certain people don’t have the luxury of revealing all this information about themselves if they want to be employed.
For example, I could never post a photo with children and expect to land a job interview. In fact, I have been directly asked in job interviews whether or not I was planning to have children soon. It’s not right — and it’s certainly illegal — but this question is sometimes used to screen out certain candidates. In fact, employers often use personal information about candidates to filter them from the running. Again: It’s not right, but it definitely happens.
To the young, successful men out there: I respect what you’re trying to do. I respect that you want to be relatable. I love that you’re showing me your family is an important part of your life. I know you are creating these fun profiles with the best intentions.
But we can’t all share those things and be taken seriously. Some of us don’t have the privilege, simply because of our demographics. In light of that fact, I think it’s best we keep LinkedIn as the professional site it was meant to be. When we become friends, we can connect on Facebook and learn all about your kids, your spouse, and your awesome dogs.
A version of this article originally appeared on Copeland Coaching.
Angela Copeland is a career coach and CEO at Copeland Coaching.