If a picture is worth a thousand words, what does your professional photo say about you?
On a professional networking site such as LinkedIn, your picture may affect the opportunities that come your way — especially if you haven’t met the other party in person.
An eye-tracking heatmap created by job site TheLadders found that recruiters spend 19% of their time on your online profile looking at your picture. Not as much time is spent on your skills or past work experience. Therefore, your picture plays a big role in whether you’re able to interest a recruiter enough to reach out to you.
You want to look like a credible, confident, and professional person who anyone would want to have in their office.
Career coach Barbara Pachter outlines guidelines for professional profile pictures in her latest book “The Essentials of Business Etiquette.” We pulled out the most important ones you need to know:
1. Always use a photo.
“It is important to include a photograph,” says Pachter. “It can also help in making sure that people know that they have connected with the right person.” For example, there may be many people named Bill Thomas, so a photo helps identify the right Bill Thomas. LinkedIn profiles with a photo are seven times more likely to be viewed than ones without an uploaded photo.
2. Use a recent photo of yourself.
We like to post photos that we think look like the best version of ourselves, but if your photo was taken eight to 10 years ago, it’s too old, says Pachter.
If people are surprised when they meet you in person because you look nothing like your picture, they may wonder why you posted such a misleading photo.
3. You should be the only subject in the photo.
It’s your professional profile picture, so it should focus on you. This means no inanimate objects, group shots, or photos of you with your significant other, child, or pets.
4. Your face should be in focus.
“The background can be slightly out of focus, but your features need to be sharp, not blurred,” says Pachter. If there are darker shadows in the background, make sure they aren’t obscuring your face.
5. Wear appropriate professional or business casual attire.
“Appear as you usually would in a business situation,” says Pachter. “This may also mean that you are freshly shaven or wearing [appropriate] makeup and jewelry.”
Never post a photo of yourself at the beach, in a night club, or even running a marathon.
6. Keep your head straight and upright.
Pachter says women, in particular, tend to tilt their heads in photos, which makes them look less self-assured. Again, this is your professional photo, so you need to look confident and capable in it.
7. Use a pleasant facial expression.
You need to look like someone others will want to work with, Pachter advises. This means looking pleasant and confident and not having a “too serious” look on your face.
“Photos should express vivaciousness and life,” she says. “Not sad, angry, or vacant stares. Also, stick to color rather than black and white shots.”
8. Don’t use your company’s product or logo as a photo.
People want to connect with you as an individual, so avoid displaying your company’s logo — unless it’s your company’s page. Once they connect with you, they’ll be able to learn about your product and your company via your company page.