How to Choose the Best Professional Profile Picture

How to Choose the Best Professional Profile Picture

Selecting the proper profession profile picture is critical to get noticed for job positions. In fact, many recruiters and companies will completely ignore profiles without a profile photo. A professional profile picture shows that a profile is a real account and that the candidate is serious about their career search.

But choosing the right picture is equally important. A study of recruiters viewing digital profiles indicated that recruiters spent almost 20% of the total time spent viewing a candidates profile looking at the candidates profile picture. So, if you were thinking any social media pic would do, think again.

You may have heard the phrase, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” In our current digital age, it turns out that this is more true than ever. Scientists have found that the human brain decides whether a person is trustworthy or not within less than a second of seeing their photo. Recruiters and HR departments of companies can view hundreds of profiles for a single vacancy. You want your profile to stand out — in a good way.

Choose the right professional profile picture

If you’re serious about getting noticed by recruiters and companies you need a professional profile picture. But how do you choose the right one? Don’t worry. It turns out that there are simple guidelines you can follow to make sure that you put your best face forward. Follow these guidelines to help you choose the best professional profile picture.

Show your face and look directly at the camera

You may feel that you look better from a side angle or are worried about how your face appears in photos. But chances are you are being way too hard on yourself. Remember this is not social media. You want to appear trustworthy, professional, and confident. A photo taken when you’re looking directly at the camera will appear as if you are looking directly at the viewer of your profile. This is much more powerful and engaging than if you are glancing away.

Smile, but not too much

Studies show that smiling in photos makes you appear both more intelligent and trustworthy — two key components companies seek when searching for new employees. Smiling also makes you look more approachable and friendly — These are desirable signs of social intelligence that show you may be friendly to work with. Smiling while showing your teeth actually doubles your likeability. But don’t go overboard. A smile too big or an open mouth smile can make you look giddy and unprofessional. Practice in the mirror to find a smile that you feel comfortable with.

Use a simple background

You want potential employers to look at you, not the background. A busy background is distracting and confusing. You don’t want those characteristics associated with you. Remember, your profile and professional profile picture is the only information that the person viewing your profile has to use to decide whether to contact you or not. You only want to reveal information that gives you an advantage.

Look professional

The best way to appear professional in your photo is to dress the part. Wear what you would wear to work. You may have a fantastic smile and a great resume or CV, but if you're wearing a T-shirt or something too casual, you may give the impression that you either don’t care or that you dress that way everyday. Solid colors that compliment your skin tone work best. Avoid ties, scarves, or shirts with too many details and colors. (And go light on the jewelry.)

Crop your photo correctly

When you crop your photo, start from the shoulder area and move up so that your shoulders, neck, and head are visible in the photo. Make sure your face fills about 60% of the frame. Your face should be the primary focus of the viewer. Avoid using photos that show you too far away. Save photos of you engaging in your favorite sport or activity for social media. Your professional profile picture is not the place to show off your hobby.

Be alone in the photo

Never use a profile picture with other people in it. Not only does it make it difficult for recruiters and HR to tell who you are, it appears unprofessional. You may have a great shot of yourself in a crowd, but unless you can get rid of other people’s body parts using a photo editing app, it’s better to use a different photo for your professional profile picture.

Use a photo that looks like you today

It can be tempting to use an older photo, especially if you think it’s a good one. But remember, if you do get called into an interview, the photo on your profile is who the recruiter or company expects to meet. If you use a photo that looks too different than how you appear today, you may come off as inauthentic or disingenuous. In today’s competitive market, vanity takes a second seat to consistency.

Use a high quality image

Make sure your photo is high resolution and the appropriate size. If you choose a low resolution photo, it will appear blurry. This can happen if you try to take a photo of an existing photo ID and then increase the size. If your photo is too blurry and your face is hard to see, it can put you at a disadvantage compared to profiles with sharp, clean images.

Use filters sparingly

Only use filters that correct lighting or that naturally improve your image in the photo. Avoid over saturation or too much contrast. A good rule of thumb is to make sure your skin tone looks natural. Any filters used should enhance your photo, not detract from it. Augmented Reality (AR) filters are fun on social media, but they don't belong on your professional profile picture.

Get a friend to take your picture for you

A professional photo shoot would be perfect, but not everyone can afford one. And with today’s technology, you really don’t need a professional. But selfies tend to contort your pose which makes it much more difficult for you to get the correct straight-on angle with the relaxed shoulders and facial expression that make for the best professional profile picture. Consider a fun photo shoot with a friend. It’s fine to use the camera on your phone, just have someone else hold it.

Take the time to show your best face

Looking for a new job can seem like a job in itself. It may be tempting to take the easy route and just dig through your social media pics to complete your profile. But taking the time to make sure you’ve got the best professional profile picture possible is worth the investment. The more professional your profile picture is, the better chance you have of getting your foot in the door of your dream job.

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