How your LinkedIn profile picture can increase your chances of getting hired

Let’s go back a few – a dozen, tens, or maybe hundreds of years to huge wigs, strong make-up, frills, and decorations on clothes…

Actually, there’s no need to do that as we are still in a reality where no one is staggered by the importance of appearance. Beauty is automatically equated with virtue and wisdom. Despite the undoubted passage of years and changes that have occurred in our reality, these habits are still present. Once implanted in our heads, the roots will not let go so quickly. Although we would prefer not to admit it, we still judge by what we see. Each of us: you and I.

At all ages and in all walks of life, attractive people are judged more favorably, treated better, and cut more slack. Mothers care more about the babies that meet general norms of beauty. Men are considerably more likely to help attractive women. Teachers favor more good-looking students and find them smarter.

Why a LInkedIn profile picture is so powerful

What about business? Do similar schemas rule the LinkedIn world? And if so, how to use them to your advantage? Read on, and learn about the following topics:

  • The importance and psychology behind profile pictures
  • What makes the profile picture the be-all and end-all?
  • Can a LinkedIn profile picture be a selfie?
  • When to change a profile picture?

The importance and psychology behind profile pictures

Psychologists claim it is the first seven seconds of interaction when people construct a solid impression of who you are. Some research proves it is even a tenth of a second to start determining traits like trustworthiness. In such a period, you won’t even open your mouth. All thoughts on you are based just on your appearance. Equal schemas rule the online world. People won’t bother to read your posts. Even if so, they will already have an idea about your personality as they have seen your Profile Picture.

The halo effect

In the profile picture phenomenon, it’s worth taking a while to understand Thorndike’s term “halo effect”. It is an error in reasoning where assumptions are formed based on a single characteristic. The overall basis of this theory shows that there’s a tendency to create a persons’ characteristics outline based on physical traits. The approach resonates for the attractiveness impact. This can result in either positive or negative perceptions (a beautiful girl appears smart, while a man with a beard feels dangerous).

While the halo effect may be a new term to you, it’s present in just about every aspect of your daily life – at work, in your relationships, in how you react to marketing campaigns, and… in business.

For example: You work in a pretty big company in a high-level position. Having a ton of duties and responsibilities, you don’t really have a chance to get to know everyone in the office. However, you know the faces and would recognize each team member. The evaluation time comes. Your boss has picked one person to be promoted. However, before deciding, ask for your opinion if it’s the right candidate. You remember the man he’s talking about – young, tall, and with good posture. Even though you can’t tell if that’s true, you say he could be a good fit for the position because he looks that way.

An image can express a person’s personality

Written words cannot replace real-life interaction. In virtual reality, an image can express a person’s personality and contain validity we typically get unconsciously during face-to-face contact. Although first appearances can be deceptive, it’s shocking what people can tell about your personality from a photograph, one study found. Of course, we can argue how many of the formed impressions would turn out to be correct. But it isn’t the point. What should bother us is the fact that our photo is the only thing where someone can form these feelings, and you can actually control it. How? Just use the halo effect, and encourage positive emotions with your appearance.

What makes the profile picture be-all and end-all?

Recently, Passport-Photo.Online conducted research with over 200 HR pros and leading positioned people asking about their opinions on profile pictures for LinkedIn. Eight out of ten respondents surveyed for the study agreed a candidate’s LinkedIn profile picture helps them get to know the person better. Furthermore, 80% believe it’s an important ranking factor for hiring processes.

The study also revealed four ingredients of a perfect profile picture – Charisma, Professionalism, Quality, and Personality. Employers use LinkedIn to get the very first impression of candidates. They often tie the quality of their profiles to their accomplishments.

The power of emotions

It’s good to show a bit of personality, but being authentic and encouraging positive emotions proves to have more impact on final feelings.

According to facial attractiveness: evolutionary based research, displaying emotions associated with happiness in your facial expressions makes others assume you have positive personality traits. So, a smile works in your favor, yet, keep in mind that LinkedIn is a business platform. Try to find the balance between being professional and showing off your quirky personality.

At the end of the day, your position indicates how your profile pictures traits. Lawyer and artist profession will require different approaches. Let’s not be crazy; there’s nothing wrong with having a colorful, a bit chaotic background as a graphic designer!

Even though the best picture is going to have various characteristics based on the field and the position you work in, there are things considered as red flags that apply to everyone. These are:

  • Lack of fully visible face
  • Usage of filters
  • Using a cropped group photo
  • An unauthentic image
  • Over-the-top casualness

Keep these points in mind, and make sure to avoid them in the future!

Can a LinkedIn profile picture be a selfie?

A few years ago, there wouldn’t be any doubts. If you have asked any recruiter or HR professional whether it’s ok to use a selfie on LinkedIn, they will immediately say NO.

But with time passing by, changes came, and the same thing happened to the selfie on the LinkedIn phenomenon. A selfie might be the most realistic way to add a professional portrait without taking out your authenticity.

However, there’s a big problem with self-made images using our phones – their quality. A high-resolution is vital for a positive impression. You can fail to prove charming if the picture is pixelated, lacks proper lighting, or was simply taken poorly.

LinkedIn shares guides for the profile picture; 400 x 400 pixels is a suggested size. Larger files work, too (although 8 MB is the maximum).

Plus, there are two tricks for improving selfie quality you can use that are very simple and do not require any additional skills, yet can change a lot:

Use your back camera

Most phones’ front (selfie) camera produces a lower-quality image than the rear camera. By simply switching to the back one, you will receive a better-quality picture. 

Edit your photo with special apps

There are many apps dedicated to helping you with your professional photo. Take advantage of them. They can not only help you crop the image but also adjust the colors, change or remove the background, and many more.

When to change a profile picture?

Have you ever noticed that people who have an up-to-date, professional, and consistent profile picture seem more organized than those who don’t? Our profiles on LinkedIn are our business cards.

You should update your profile once-a-year. Such a period is enough for you to change slightly, and from a personal perspective – it shows your audience (or potential employer) that you are an active user.

However, in business, this can mean one more thing. The frequency with which you change your profile picture can indicate your good relationship with technology. Plus, if you’re currently in the job market, it can help reinforce the image you’re trying to convey to potential employers, if you do it the right way. One thing that can help you build up our brand in the eyes of potential partners is using the same photo across social media platforms you use – LinkedIn, Twitter, or perhaps your blog? It all can work well.

Key points to remember

A profile picture is essential. Why? In business, your profile on LinkedIn acts as a business card. Recruiters and potential business partners will browse your page to get to know you and find out what you can offer.

Also, studies have shown that a photo is what truly adds value to a profile and builds a sense of trust. Some people will not even bother to check out your experience if the photo field is blank.

“I ignore any profile that doesn’t have one [picture]. If they haven’t taken 5 minutes to put a profile photo up, I can’t take them seriously.”

-Ravi Davda, chief executive officer, Rockstar Marketing

For final clearance and to make things easier, here’s the list to follow to make your LinkedIn profile picture work best. Make sure to check if your current one applies to all!

Encourage positive emotions with your profile picture

Recruiters and business owners are people too – they want to work with people they like. You can increase your chances of being selected by smiling at your picture. Remember to keep it professional. You are a human and friendly underneath your professional exterior.

Good quality is key

A high-resolution picture adds credibility and makes it look more attractive. 400 x 400 pixels profile picture on LinkedIn is a perfect size. Larger file formats are also acceptable (although 8 MB is the maximum), but try to avoid small, low-resolution images.

Use the same image consistently across multiple sites

Doing that helps people recognize you and builds the whole image of you. If a potential employer is going through your online footprint and finds the same photo on each business platform (blog, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.), it confirms that you’re active in your area.

Show that it is a real account

Having a photo in your social media profile, especially on LinkedIn, tells people that your account is active and it is a real account. However, once uploaded, an image may not be enough. Make sure to keep your photo updated at least once a year. It will tell your business partners you’re in the job market and feel that you’re up to date with technology.

Keep your profile photo consistent with your industry

Authenticity is one of the most important factors influencing the first impression regarding your profile picture. Therefore, it is critical to present a little bit of yourself in the photo (while still maintaining professionalism). Wear outfits that match your position and adjust the characteristics of your photo to it. This way, you’ll gain trust and credibility

This guest blog was written by Magdalena Sadowska, a community manager and content writer at passport photo online. With a background in psychology, she is fascinated by how people interact and create their reality. Given a choice of sea or mountains, she chooses both. You can connect with her on LinkedIn.