While JDate doesn't publicly release its algorithms, at the time of my experiment I observed that the more popular profiles come up higher in search results, allowing one to get a quick-and-dirty ranking of who's hot (or not). I quickly realized that the popular women seemed to know something I didn't; they were clearly attracting the sort of smart, attractive professionals who had been ignoring my profile. Being hypercompetitive, I wasn't about to let some bubblegum-popping blonde steal the neurotic Jewish doctor of my mother's dreams.
What did I discover? Popular profiles used aspirational language (like "I want to travel" or "a big ambition of mine is…"), kept descriptions short and generic and lied about various physical characteristics (though not the ones you think). Their style was easygoing, youthful and spontaneous. I'd never once referred to myself in writing as "fun" or as a "girl." But it was easy to see that I had been far too stuffy and professional in my presenting myself (I'd gotten lazy and cribbed from my résumé)
- KISS: keep it short and sweet. She suggests no more than 500 words. Describe enough to pique interest, but don't ramble on.
- Show only up to a point. She finds 3 photos in the gallery suffices. Five or more is overkill.
- Interests and activities are fine, but avoid ones that are not self-explanatory or that can backfire. She illustrates with her own experience: "'I have a black belt in aikido.' (I actually do, and I put it on my profile at one point, which prompted some men to challenge me to a fight on the first date, which was as horrible and awkward as it sounds.)"
- Humor can come off the wrong way; better to sound straight than sarcastic.
- For faster responses, use Instant Messaging rather than email.
Women: Don't mention work, especially if your job is difficult to explain. You may have the most amazing career on the planet, but it can inadvertently intimidate someone looking at your profile. I realize this sounds horribly regressive, but during my experiment I found that women were attracted to men with high-profile careers, while the majority of men were turned off by powerful women.• Women with curly hair are at a distinct disadvantage online. I have no idea whether men prefer blondes, but I can say definitively that most men prefer women with healthy, long, straight hair. If you have curls and feel comfortable (and look good) straightening your hair, give that a try.
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