Profile pictures on sites like LinkedIn can make or break your chances at getting the job you want.
Hiring managers want to see your face. Wouldn’t you? As a matter of fact, the only thing worse than no profile picture at all is a bad one. So what do you need to do?
Dress For Success
Wear something appropriate to your profession. While a good button-down shirt or suit coat is never a bad idea, if you’re an artist or a DJ it may not fit your job description unless you jazz it up. Just try not to look like you just threw on a (cleanish) tshirt. Take time to shave, put on business appropriate makeup (if you wear it), and do your hair just as carefully as you would for a live interview.
How you dress and the expression on your face needs to give your potential boss the impression that you’re easy to work with and care enough to present yourself at your best. After all, if you don’t even care about yourself, why should they trust you to care whether you do good work for them, or even show up on time?
Now is not the time to wear something sporty, sexy, or casual. A tank top on the beach is fine for social pictures, but not for an application as an administrative assistant.
Your Facial Expression
Think about something that makes you feel confident, smart, and happy. That way your smile won’t look stiff and fake. At the same time, try not to look like an egotistical jerk. That’s a technical term.
It seems funny to say ‘stand up straight’ for a headshot, but good posture changes the angle of your head and neck, much less your mood. Slouching juts your jaw out and rounds your shoulders, making you look less than smart and trustworthy. Cough.
Go look in the mirror right now, stand up straight, suck your gut in and smile like you own the world. Stand with your shoulders at an angle and turn your head slightly, making direct eye contact with the ‘lens’. Smile with your teeth. See the difference?
As an example of what a difference eye contact and a smile make in your pictures, take a look at this
The picture with no eye contact and no smile has drastically different results, right? Keep that in mind when creating your own profile picture. Now is not the time to get artsy. Well, unless you’re an artist. Instead, you need to look trustworthy, capable, and easy to get along with.
Get Honest Feedback
A great resource for improving your profile pictures that doesn’t involve asking your (biased) friends or (even more biased) grandmother is Photofeeler.com. The graphic above is a screenshot comparing three pictures I ran as a test there.
In exchange for grading profile photos of others you can get neutral input on your profile shots, whether for social networking, dating, or business. They can make comments on your photos, grading them for competence, likableness, and whether you look influential.
One of the things I think is great about grading and giving feedback on the photos of others is that you get to see the contrast between good and bad lighting, poses, clothes, and expressions, and get a good idea of what to avoid as well as what you like.
Sometimes a bad example teaches you just as much as a good one.
You’ll get to see how bad a blurry selfie under overhead florescent lights is, or how squinting in the sunshine looks.
The site also has lots of great tutorials to help you improve your portrait photography.
As a sidenote, don’t get crazy with vintage filters and editing. Some people commented on the black and white photo I did, thinking ‘something was wrong with the color’. I know, maybe they weren’t too bright, but it’s something to think about.
Should You Rotate Pictures?
Some say yes, some no, but keep it current so that you don’t look dated, especially if you work in the fashion or cosmetic industries.
People are visual, and the more often they see you the more familiar you become. Once you get a great picture, stick with it. If you go to a professional photographer you can take 3 or 4 changes of clothes so you can get more than one look. That way you don’t have to pay more than one sitting fee.
The professionalism of your photo says a lot about how seriously you will take your job, which is make or break for potential employers. Take it as seriously as they will.
What do you think? Have you seen a bad photo ruin someone’s chances, or get them an interview when maybe their qualifications on paper weren’t all that special?