When you’re looking for work, for the most part, the job search protocol is pretty clear cut. Even if you’re a creative with license to step out of the box, there are certain buzzwords and rules of the road to use as guidelines. But when you're looking for a partner and venturing out into the online dating scene, it can be tricky to draft a profile that distills your essence down to a few carefully chosen pictures and adjectives that will (hopefully) attract like minds.

Alyssa Dineen launched Style My Profile, a consulting business that combines her decades of experience as a fashion stylist with her skills as an online dating guru, after her own divorce led to meeting her current partner online. “A lot of people just write a few sentences about themselves that sound like a resume, and that's not how to get people's attention,” she says. “You’re basically marketing yourself and a lot of people don’t realize that. There are so many profiles out there and you’re just swiping through. If something doesn’t catch your attention, you’ll just pass by.”

“It’s hard to reduce our personalities, our idiosyncrasies, our interests, our outlook on life to a few answers on a page,” says Matthew Hussey, author of “How to Get the Guy.” “It’s impossible to do justice to ourselves. So, we end up with a kind of glossy (and often cliché) caricatured version. And because we are worried about being too vulnerable, we often round off the edges so much that what is left feels indistinct from every other profile out there.”

So how should you set about creating the best possible online dating profile possible — one that doesn’t feel fake or cliché? We asked both experts to share their tips.

Go beyond the headshot

A simple headshot (no sunglasses) is the place to start — it gives prospective playmates the chance to connect with your face — but both experts say it takes more than just one photo to capture your true essence. “I usually suggest at least five if not more, depending on the app,” says Dineen. “Start with one headshot where you look at the camera, smiling so people can see your full face. Add another shot where you're doing something active or are engaged in a hobby — something that shows what you're interested in and that you’re active. Include another picture of you within a social situation, whether it's just dinner with a friend or maybe you're at wedding and you’re with a couple of people — no large group shots. And make sure you have at least one photo where you can see head-to-toe.”

Hussey discourages using a group shot as your main profile photo — it can be a challenge for people to figure out who you are, and reiterates the importance of a smile. “Warmth is inviting, and it’s a breath of fresh air in a world where everyone seems to be taking their image way too seriously. It’s fine to flirt with the camera, just avoid making it look like a modeling shoot or you’ll look like you’re trying too hard,” he says, adding that black and white shots are a no-no. “When it looks like we’re trying to hide, people are more likely to get suspicious and move on to someone they can get a real sense of,” he says.

Be super specific about who you are and what you’re into

Before writing your bio, Dineen recommends jotting down every kind of adjective or description of yourself that you can think of. Once you’re done, select a few of those descriptors to elaborate on. “A lot of the bios say the same thing, like ‘I like new restaurants’ and ‘I like wine’ and ‘I like yoga,’ so you want to find something more unique and interesting, like ‘I went on a yoga retreat in India this spring,’” Dineen says.

 

The more specific you are about who you are and what your interests are, the more likely you’ll attract someone who shares those interests.“Whether you're a Disney freak, or geek out about astrophysics and Stoic philosophy, the more you go into detail, the more a person is likely to get excited and think, ‘they’re perfect for me!’ If you keep your profile surface-level and generic, it's easy to get dismissed and lost in the pile,” says Hussey. Also, elaborating on the kind of partner you’re looking for and the dating experiences you’d like to have can also help prospective dates gauge your compatibility, Hussey adds.

Post do’s, not don’ts

Dineen says, when choosing words and phrases for your bio, a positive attitude is key.

“A lot of people who never wanted to do online dating come into it reluctantly and you can tell. Their bio comes off as sounding negative, so having as much of a positive attitude as you can help. Ending a bio with ‘not interested in your cat’ can be a real turn-off,” she says.

Hussey adds that negative generalizations and self-depreciating turns of phrase can also inspire people to swipe on by. “It’s fine to say that you’re excited to meet someone who also wants to find a real and meaningful connection. That’s positive. But when you say ‘no hook-ups’ it simply reads like an angry person wrote it. People generally want to date someone with an optimistic view of the world and a warm nature,” says Hussey. “No one wants to date a self-described “hot mess.”

A mess that can easily be cleaned up with just a few positive adjectives.