Your resume has about 10 seconds to catch a recruiter’s eye.
Anyone who has ever read job-searching resources or sought professional career counseling advice has heard this or a similar estimate. Recruiters have hundreds of resumes land in their laps every day, and if yours doesn’t say something special it will end up in the recycle bin.
So when we’re job searching, we spend hours crafting our resumes, highlighting our strengths and accomplishments and then having six of our closest friends scour the finished product for typos.
In the world of online dating, the profile you create on the sites you join is much like a resume. If you’ve chosen to venture into meeting potential dates or love matches online, you’ve entered a vast candidate pool. Just as that recruiter has resumes pouring into her faster than she can read them, online-date seekers have a wide variety of sites and potential partners to explore.
There are almost as many online dating sites out there as there are different types of people seeking dates. Some are geared to finding your soul mate, others are social networking sites. Are you only interested in a dating partner who has or likes pets? Guess what, there’s a dating site out there just for you.
The one thing most online dating sites have in common is that your first step in jumping into the fray is to create your profile. Your online dating profile is where you’ll make your first impression. Consider it a social resume.
You wouldn’t type out a cover letter in ten minutes and shoot if off to an employer who is offering the job of your dreams. So don’t dash off a dating profile that will get overlooked among the many others out there. You’re going fishing, and your profile is your bait.
Profiles are as individual and unique as the people who are delving into online dating. Still, there are some general guidelines to help you put your best foot forward and create a profile that will generate messages from people you’d be interested in meeting.
1. Like it or not, an image is worth a thousand words.
Dating profiles that include photos get more responses than those that don’t. We all yearn for the opportunity to be known and loved for our minds, but when it comes to online dating people want images to go with our words.
Part of the reason for this is that we are visual creatures. We like to have an image of a person in our heads when we’re talking to them online, particularly if we’re actually considering dating them.
What type of photos should be included in a dating profile? Ideally you want to portray a natural and honest version of yourself. This doesn’t mean that you should put that snapshot your friend took of you with the worst hangover of your life out there and expect it to hook the man or woman of your dreams.
A few photo tips:
- If you can, include more than one photo of yourself in your profile.
- Don’t limit yourself to “glamourshots“. Sure, your favorite photo ever is the one you got done in the glamour studio on your 30th birthday. It shows you at your best. Add it to your profile, but make sure it isn’t your only photo. If you limit your pictures to glamour shots, people will wonder what you’re hiding behind all that makeup and posing.
- Post recent photos. One of the biggest complaints I’ve heard from online daters is that the people they meet often look much different than their photos would lead one to believe. What’s the point of posting that shot of yourself from five years ago, when you still had a full head of hair, and then wasting time and effort on a date with a woman who hates receding hairlines? Save the pictures of what you looked like back in college for when you’re getting to know each other in person.
- Show the Whole You. You don’t need to post close-ups of your freshly painted toes for the foot fetishists or cleavage shots for the breast-men, unless they’re the ones you’re trying to attract. But people want to get an image of the “total you“, so include full body shots of you standing or sitting.
- Unlike STDs, Happiness is Something That Should Be Contagious When Dating. So, Smile. The most important thing about your image is that it portrays someone who is confident, happy and interesting. Have a friend take candid shots of you doing things that make you happy, or catch you in a moment where you’ve got a spontaneous smile on your face.
I can feel some of you shaking your heads now. You hate the way your smile looks in photos, or can’t imagine putting a picture out there that shows your true tummy size.
You aren’t alone. There are more of us who feel uncomfortable with the way we look in pictures than there are camera hogs. But you’ll be saving yourself headache in the long run. People of all shapes and features have found love, both online and in person. Your photos will have a better chance of drawing someone who is physically attracted to your body type if they are an accurate representation of you.
After all, do you really want to waste hours talking to that girl who despises beards if you have one and don’t ever intend to get rid of it? Do you feel like getting all dressed up to go meet that guy who is bound and determined to find a long-haired plump blonde when you’re a thin, short-haired brunette? If someone ignores your profile because they don’t like the way you look, you’ll never know. If you meet them in person and their disappointment that you aren’t anything like they’d imagined is written all over their face, you will. The sad thing about that is, you’ll never know if they truly don’t like the way you look or if they’re just upset because they feel you were dishonest.
2. Bitterness bites.
It amazes me how many people come across as jaded, bitter and frustrated in their online dating profiles.
Yes, dating and relationships can make us all feel that way. If your wife cheats on you with your best friend, takes all the money out of your bank account and moves across the country, you’re going to be a bit of a love skeptic. If you’ve been a single girl on the scene for a while, and have met more than your share of players, married men passing themselves off as single, and men who want you to take care of them the same way their mothers did, then you’re probably a bit tired of it all.
Guess what? Many of those out in the online dating world feel the same way. It’s kind of a given that if you’re actively looking for a relationship online, you’re single and tired of being that way. There’s no need to bang people over the head with it.
Instead of saying “I’m sick of players and liars – no head games” or “I’ve come to believe all women are drama queens and cheaters, so prove me wrong“, focus on what you do want instead. Paint a picture with your words of a person who is seeking an honest and open relationship with someone who wants the same.
People who have been on the dating scene for a while have encountered their share of men and women who expect them to make up for every bad relationship that came before them. Even if everything else in your profile attracts a person, they’ll be likely to skip over it if you come across as negative before you’ve even spoken to each other.
3. Over-eager puppies are cute. Over-eager people are scary.
“I’m tired of being alone, and want someone to hold me for the rest of my days.”
Words along those lines work in sappy love songs. Not in online dating profiles.
Those exploring online dating already know to be on the lookout for serial daters and those just collecting online flirt buddies.
But most daters also avoid people who come across as potentially clingy, needy or desperate like the plague. Even others hoping to find long-term loving relationships as opposed to casual dating experiences will be leery of someone who appears to require a partner in their life in order to be content.
People want to find dating partners who like them because of who they are, not mates who would be willing to settle for them rather than be alone.
4. Get creative. Have fun. Put a positive spin on things.
Sure, a picture is worth a thousand words. But a picture with no meaningful words behind it will be most likely to attract only those who really don’t care what’s going on in your head. Is that what you want?
Describe yourself and your best physical and mental attributes. Make a list of positive adjectives that describe you, and put your favorites in the profile.
Come up with a fun and witty headline. “Looking for Love“, or “Am I the Girl for You?“, or “Divorced Dad Seeks New Adventures” have been done already. Consider a not-too-corny line from a favorite song, book, or movie.
You can stare at that “About me” section of your profile for hours, wondering what to type in the box. Share your interests and hobbies. What is your idea of a great first date? How about favorite movie, book, type of music or your idea of a perfect weekend or vacation? Lightheartedly discuss goals you’d like to achieve and what you’re doing to achieve them
When describing yourself and your interests in your profile, you want to draw people who share those interests. If you want to keep spending your free time playing computer games and reading, then chances are you’ll be happier with someone who enjoys the same hobbies than someone who wants to drag you rock climbing and salsa dancing.
Paint your personality traits in a positive light too. You aren’t an antisocial homebody who hides in the corner at parties. You’re a person who prefers quiet evenings at home with a bottle of wine, a good movie and interesting conversation to a wild night on the town. You aren’t someone who can’t stick to a schedule, you’re flexible and spontaneous. You aren’t a bit loud and obnoxious after a few drinks, but you do know how to be the life of the party when it’s called for.
5. Give glimpses of various sides of yourself and your life.
Talking about how you love a good party will draw other outgoing, social people. Devoting your entire online dating profile to descriptions of your drunken antics and pictures of you and your friends hugging and swigging from bottles will make people wonder if you have any active brain cells left.
Mentioning your profession or talking a bit about your job can be interesting and reassure those viewing your dating profile that you’re gainfully employed. Going on for two paragraphs about what you do to earn your living paints a picture of a workaholic who will be about as much fun to date as a tree stump.
Talking about your success as a single parent and how much you enjoy spending time with your children both shows that you’ve got your priorities in line and weeds out people who are afraid of dating those with family responsibilities. But if you mention no other interests, viewers of your profile might wonder if you really have room for people outside of your immediate family in your life.
Variety is the spice of life, and there are many facets to you. Share them.
6. Be honest about what you want, and what you don’t want. But do it in a nice way.
Don’t be afraid to talk about what it is you’re looking for in your dating profile, and to do so with honesty.
If you prefer to date within your age range and don’t plan on giving someone much older or younger than you a chance, say so. But say so nicely. Saying that you’re “looking to meet interesting men between the ages of 30-40” is honest and keeps people who don’t fall into your specifications from wasting their time. Saying “messages from people over 40 will be ignored” might come off as rude and deter someone who is within your dating age range but very sensitive to other’s feelings from writing to you.
Also be open about what type of relationship you are seeking. If you know you aren’t ready to be part of a couple and just want to meet people for occasional social outings, make it clear in your profile. Don’t phrase it in a way that makes you come off as a commitment-phobe or as someone who wants to collect dates like baseball cards, but let those who are only interested in meeting people looking for exclusive long-term love matches know they may want to skip on to the next profile.
Your online dating profile is both your resume and your bait. If you provide an honest and interesting portrayal of your interests, lifestyle, appearance, values and what you’re seeking in the people you meet, then the bites you get will be more likely to be ones that are worth your time and effort.