Picture-perfect

Job seekers are using technology not only to update the look of their résumés but to also enhance their own looks in their résumé photos.

Quentin Fottrell of Smartmoney.com reports on the growing number of people who are using airbrushing software to make them look more attractive to potential employers.

“There’s no denying that attractiveness gives you an advantage over the competition,” said LinkedIn connection director Nicole Williams.

But experts caution that making yourself look picture-perfect could backfire.

Fottrell reports that experts say there are pitfalls to ironing out too many wrinkles and facial flaws from your profile photos on professional networking sites such as LinkedIn. Personal branding consultant Nick Gilham says removing a pimple is one thing, but any more dramatic changes in appearance could shock prospective employers.

“This would make me wonder what other lies you would tell?” Gilham says in the article. “Would you lie about your job accomplishments or titles, too?”

But getting rid of a few wrinkle lines might help older job hunters look younger and more energetic, some experts said.

This week’s Color of Money Question: Would you airbrush your professional picture to improve your chances for getting a job? Send your responses to colorofmoney@washpost.com. Be sure to include your full name, city and state. Put “ Picture-Perfect” in the subject line.

Show Me the Money

Turns out most people don’t really need a big paycheck to feel like a success, according to a survey by CareerBuilder. An overwhelming majority of U.S. workers who were interviewed – 75 percent – said they don’t need to earn six figures a year to be successful. Twenty-eight percent said they would feel successful earning between $50,000 and $70,000 a year, while 23 percent reported they would feel successful earning less than $50,000 a year.

“While compensation is definitely important, workers don’t necessarily equate success with hefty incomes,” said Rosemary Haefner, vice president of human resources for CareerBuilder. “Often you’ll see intangibles such as the ability to make a difference, a sense of accomplishment and work/life balance eclipse the size of a paycheck in what matters most to workers.”

Women apparently are less inclined than men to equate success with income, according to the poll. About 32 percent of men said they wanted to make more than $100,000 a year to be considered a success versus 17 percent of women.

Celebrity Cash

Eight-time Grammy Award-winning artist Lauryn Hill is facing up to three years in prison and $75,000 in fines for failing to file tax returns on $1.5 million from 2005 through 2007, reports The Washington Post’s Maura Judkis.

Hill has pleaded guilty to tax evasion. She is best known for her critically acclaimed album “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill” and as a member of the band The Fugees.

On her blog, Hill wrote that she stopped paying taxes because she went “underground” to protect her family and herself from being “manipulated and controlled by a media protected military industrial complex” and “used my resources to sustain our safety and survival.” She said she tried to explain this to the feds, but “the danger I faced was not accepted as reasonable grounds for deferring my tax payments,” Judkis wrote.

Actor Wesley Snipes is serving a three-year prison term for not paying his federal taxes. Snipes told The Washington Post’s Jen Chaney in an interview in 2010 that he was given bad financial advice and did not intend to withhold money from the government.

“I don’t have an issue with the tax people,” he said. “Taxes are -- look, if you owe, you should pay. And if you feel like you’re owed, you should pay. Simple as that.”

Response to “Women Can’t Have It All”

Last week’s Color of Money question: “Can women – and men – have it all with a successful career and family?”

The question was prompted by a cover story in the Atlantic magazine by Anne-Marie Slaughter. Slaughter sparked a lot of debate after arguing that highly paid career women can’t have it all.

“To say women can’t have it all puts a negative spin on the fact that we all need to make choices,” wrote Kimberly Rotter of San Diego. “Men can’t have it all either. We all have to decide what’s most important to us, and what goals we want to reach. That doesn’t mean we can’t have it all. It only means we can’t have it all simultaneously. And that’s ok. Everything doesn’t have to be at the top of the list all the time.”

“I have been working for the government for 30 years and I am married to a wonderful man,” wrote Juliette Sager of Greenfield, Calif. “We have raised three beautiful grown people and have four beautiful grandchildren that are the main center of our world. I believe I have it all, and any woman can have it all and do it all. [But] everything has to be done at a pace that does not interfere with your time for family and friends.”

Kim Luu of Newport Beach, Calif., said many women are constantly encouraged to “break the glass ceiling for womanhood.” She wrote: “All these pressures never resonated with me throughout school. I understand ambition and had plenty of my own. However, I was very well aware that the world is not perfect and no one can ever have it all. It’s a mirage. It was ludicrous to me that my classmates were berating themselves for not achieving a superficial standard that someone else set.”

Tia Lewis contributed to this report.

You are welcome to e-mail comments and questions to colorofmoney@washpost.com. Please include your name and hometown; your comments may be used in a future column or newsletter unless otherwise requested.

Michelle Singletary writes the nationally syndicated personal finance column, “The Color of Money.”
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