Maybe no one will admit it, but the earliest incarnation of Facebook functioned to help nerdy freaks and geeks on college campuses ask women out without having to face rejection in person. And shy awkward goofballs could now get the drop on their less tech-savvy competition.
Sure, online dating was already a thing, but it still had a bit of a stigma and operated on the periphery. Approaching it with trepidation was the norm, so it was perfectly acceptable post a profile without a photo. Introverts could use clever wordplay to capture the imagination of potential mates before being judged on appearances.
Of course this left a lot of room for imaginative translation, even for basic mundane descriptions. Apparently, 90 percent of the population believe they have an “average build.” There was also an element of truthfully misleading statements. Saying you have a “movie star physique” can prompt the reader to conjure up any number of positive images—you didn’t have to say you were referring to Road Trip star DJ Qualls.
When Facebook blew up, the genie jumped out of the bottle. The network went beyond colleges into everyday life and it was suddenly okay to post photos as you shared your hopes, your dreams, your cats, your food, and pretty much every personal detail of your life online.
Dating sites followed suit. With so many people allowing their photos to float through cyberspace anyway, photos became mandatory. Nowadays, the only people who don’t post a dating profile photo are scaredy-cats and cheaters. There was, of course, a website dedicated exclusively to those anonymous, delusional, self-loathing losers.
But dating sites have been leapfrogged by apps like Tinder and Grindr, both of which offer the immediacy of spying someone in a coffee shop and acting on attraction based solely on looks. It’s like a giant dance party. We have come full circle.
So … What about the Jobs?
First impressions have always mattered, but how and when you make it is subject to change. Your personal brand is often a function of your online presence: your blog, Facebook profile, personal web page and activity on Twitter. However, some employers still believe that resumes rule.
Your first impression could also come from an online search, so you need to be aware of the top results. If you have a relatively rare name like Velimir Radinovic, employers will know exactly who you are immediately, for better or worse. If you have a boring name that is sometimes the name of an event, you’ll need to find ways to stand out. On the plus side, people need to look hard to find any incriminating material.
Like dating, you can’t control the perceptions of others, but you can shape what’s out there.