Profile pictures, worth a thousand words
Profile pictures you choose to have across your social networks, resumes and portfolios are highly important for your personal brand. They can influence it in either a good way, or a very bad one. Making the effort to use professional headshots in your profiles may prove to be the one action, decision, choice to have the biggest impact on the growth of your personal brand, as it is your photo that makes the first impression, in the first two seconds of online contact.
On a professional networking site, such as LinkedIn, your picture may affect the opportunities that may come your way — especially if you have not met the other party in person.
An eye-tracking heat map created by job site TheLadders found that recruiters spend 19% of their time on your online profile, looking at your picture. They do not spend the same amount of time reading your skills or past work experience. Therefore, your picture plays a big role in catching the eye of a recruiter.
It is not too often that your casual photos will look professional enough to impress people. Even if you are proficient with the camera of your smartphone, one selfie will not do for a professional photo that can really represent your personal brand. Most of the time, even the photos your spouse, family member or friend takes, are likely to be inappropriate. Investing in a professional photo session, with a professional photographer may turn out to be a really good choice. The photographer will know how to setup the lighting and how to edit the photo to make you look professional. You are only left with the choice of an appropriate outfit.
Bellow you will find some advice regarding the proper use of profile pictures.
- Always use a photo.
In this way you can be 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 person. LinkedIn profiles with a photo are seven times more likely to be viewed than the ones without one.
- 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 ten years ago, it is no longer appropriate. 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 and imagine that you misinformed them on other issues, as well.
- You should be the only subject in the photo.
It is 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.
- Your face should be in focus.
The background can be slightly out of focus, but your features need to be sharp, not blurred. If there are darker shadows in the background, make sure they are not obscuring your face.
- Wear appropriate professional or business casual attire.
Appear as you usually would in a business situation. 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.
- Keep your head straight and upright.
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.
- Have a pleasant facial expression.
You need to look like someone others will want to work with. This means looking pleasant and confident and not having a “too serious” look on your face. Do not forget that photos should express vivaciousness and life, not sad, angry, or vacant stares. Also, stick to color rather than black and white shots.
- Do not 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 on your personal networks. Once they connect with you, recruiters will be able to learn about your product and your company via your company page.
Remember that a professional photo on your website and social media profiles can be worth a thousand words.