Is your profile picture helping or hindering your job search?

Why is your profile photographs are so important to your job search, and how can you make sure your profile pictures are working to your advantage?

There was a time when people were nervous about the internet. They were scared to used credit cards online and they were scared to upload their photographs. There was also a time when people said that social media would come and go.

That time has past.

Your profile picture is a huge opportunity to differentiate yourself from rival candidates. With our partners at Obvious Candidate we work with our clients to improve their online profiles to accelerate their job search. Over the years we’ve discovered the single biggest improvement we can make to a job seeker’s online profile is to improve their choice of photo they are using. By comparison the tweaking of words and details lower down the profile creates a less immediate impact.

And the very worst thing you can do is to have no photo at all.

According to one US study, visitors to your profile finding no photo of you assume you are either ugly or lack the skill to upload. Either way, the job search impact is negative.

First impressions

As a functioning human being you have become acutely aware of when someone makes a poor first impression. You spot it immediately. The weak damp handshake or the absence of eye contact during your initial greeting are both instant negatives that give a bad start to a relationship and in an interview situation you may never recover the lost ground.

Today your profile is often serving as your first impression. Your photo is the element that your viewer will be most immediately drawn to. That means it’s playing the same make or break role as your body language in an in person meeting.

A study by one leading recruitment website revealed that recruiters actually spend more time considering the candidate’s photo than they do on the detail of their profile. Clearly that shouldn’t be the case, but humans are humans and first impressions count.

But how do you know if your photo is hindering your job search?

The big LinkedIn photograph mistakes:

  1. The Cropped Too Close Picture: This normally occurs when you’re trying to isolate your face from a group, another person or part of a picture with background that’s not LinkedIn friendly (like the beach or a bar).
  2. The Selfie in a Mirror Pose: This is simply not professional. Even a regular selfie is more acceptable. It’s no longer 2011.
  3. The Athlete: Unless you work as Usain Bolt or you are a professional gymnast, you in Lycra is not for LinkedIn. Business attire. Business pose.
  4. The Pet Lover: So you love your pet? Great. That’s what Facebook is for.
  5. The Drink Lover: So you love a tipple and you’re a wine connoisseur. Congratulations. Unless you work as a sommelier, your job search will be better if you introduce yourself without the alcohol.
  6. The Family Is My Life Shot: We all love our families. Introducing your partner or new born is not suggesting your commitment will be to getting your new job done.
  7. The Blurry Shot: Cameras are no on every phone. They are great. There’s no excuse for using a scan of an old photocopy of a photo from the past. Focus and go.
  8. The Long Distance Shot: The profile picture should be of you. Not you on a hill. Zoom into you.
  9. The Revealing Shot: Shouldn’t need saying but assuming you want to be considered for your talent rather than your body, professional profile pictures are not suggestive.
  10. The Over Filtered Picture: You have Instagram. So does everyone else. No one is impressed with overly-arty filters on your profile.
  11. The Too Serious Picture: People like to work with people they can get along with. While you needn’t beam, a smile and happy countenance will go a long way.
  12. The Holiday Picture: Unless you’re a travel writer, or going for a job with Expedia, save the holiday snaps for Facebook. Everyone knows how to wind down. No one we know is looking to hire a “Director of Hanging Out”. Look the part.
  13. The No Picture Picture: Leaving your profile with the LinkedIn silhouette is perhaps the worst of all. No picture equals no confidence or worse, suggests something to hide.

How to make sure your photo is working for you:

Tip 1: Upload your options to

You may remember from when the internet was new? Both sites let other web users vote on your photos. But lets you understand how other business people view and respond to your profile picture. Not only that, but it gives you numerical results – scoring your pictures with regard to Influence, Competence and Likeability. Don’t only upload one. Test 3 or 4 pictures and find what scores the best. You can do this for free by voting on other users’ photos to earn credits. Full disclosure: It can be a little addictive when the votes start coming in.

Tip 2: Have some professional photos taken.

You’re serious about your job search aren’t you? Professional headshots are not the preserve of models and celebrities. They are affordable and make a big difference. Find a local photographer, explain your purpose and an investment of a few hundred pounds can help you add thousands to a starting salary. While you’re investing, take a few outfits. You’ll find these shots have a variety of purposes. Get some more relaxed, some more professional.

Tip 3: Select your background.

Make sure your background is not distracting. You should be the focus, not an afterthought.

FDIN Jobs is the career development portal for The Food & Drink Innovation Network - the UK's community for successful innovation professionals.

To see more articles like this - visit us here.

Views: 326

Comment by Katrina Kibben on November 19, 2015 at 10:28am

The no picture picture has to be my least favorite. Of course, there's also the group that likes to steal photos of famous people who they think are their doppelganger.... 

Comment by Jane Paine on November 19, 2015 at 10:35am

The entire section made me smile... I think I have seen them all!


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