Could Your Profile Picture be Decreasing Your Chances of Getting the Job?

Body Image
Not a good choice for a profile picture!
 (Photo credit: Vlture.)

I’ve talked about social networking before and the fact that employers do look people up online.  The places that they are most likely to find you are your social networks since they usually show up first in the search engines unless you have a web site with your name in the domain (which isn’t a bad idea).  And what is the first thing that someone will see if they find your social network profile?  Your picture. 

You might choose to lock down all that info and even your picture on some social networks but what if you are purposefully using them to help with your job search?  Then you need to have a profile picture that will be helpful to you.

Here are some tips to choosing a good profile picture that won’t have employers throwing your resume in the trash:
  • Headshots: These are usually your best option.  Employers don’t want to see how fashionable you are (unless you are applying for a job as a fashion designer).  They just need a nice headshot that highlights your face.  Try not to use a cropped headshot though because those can be overly pixilated and come out unclear.
  • Focus: Make sure that the focus of the picture is you, not something crazy going on in the background.  If you’re doing a self-portrait (and those can work if you’re careful) make sure that there is nothing strange in the background that is going to detract from you.  We’ve all seen that picture of the girl with the self-portrait she took in the bathroom (you’ll know what I mean if you’ve seen it!)
  • Get Dressed: Yes, this needs to be said.  Put on something that doesn’t look like you just climbed out of bed.  No strapless tops because those often end up looking like you’re naked.  Put on something with some color, too.  Black and white are great but not for photos.
  • Skip the funny pics: I’m sure that your friends all love your funny faces (my kids love my lizard face) but your future employer doesn’t need to see that.  Just smile nicely.
  • Get someone to take the picture for you: Yes, as I mentioned, self-pics can work but the picture that is taken by someone else will be better.  If you have professional photos those are great but you don’t have to have them.  Just make sure that the background is simple (a white or light colored wall will do the trick) and that the person holding the camera has a steady hand.
  • Be up-to-date: Don’t put up a picture from your high school grad if you are older than 20 or so.  Put up a picture that represents what you actually look like now.

It is true that an employer can not choose to not hire you because you’re unattractive.  But they might choose not to hire you if your profile picture shows you downing tequilas at your most recent weekend party.  

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