Is your picture sending the right message?


With social media playing an ever-increasing role in our daily lives, there are now a great many more things to consider when embarking upon a job search that one certainly wouldn’t have had to worry about five years ago: something we must now consider is the importance of a profile picture.

Many more candidates are now opting to include a photo in their CV, and even those of us that are not doing this will most likely have a LinkedIn Profile, which requires a photograph at the top of your page. This then begs the question, what kind of photograph should you be uploading?

Here are a few tips to help make sure that your profile is getting a good reception...

1. It’s not Facebook

This is quite possibly the most important thing to remember. Whilst LinkedIn is a social media network, it is most definitely not the same sort of profile as Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, so photographs suitable for those are generally not going to impress on LinkedIn or within your CV. A selfie is one thing, but make sure the picture is professional!

2. No group shots

Whilst your trip to Bali with your best friends from university might have been amazing, it is not the first thing that your potential employer needs to know about you. Your profile is exactly that: yours! You want to make it clear who you are, if your photo is of a group of people, it might give the impression that you are more inclined to disappear in the crowd. It is good to show that you are comfortable with in a group, but there’s a time and place to do this, and your professional profile picture is not it.

3. Consider the roles you are applying for

Your CV and/ or your LinkedIn profile will be the first impression that a potential employer gets of you. Once a first impression has been made, it is very difficult to turn this around. When viewing your profile photo and reading your CV, your employer will automatically begin to imagine how you will fit into their team. Whatever types of role you are applying for, make sure that every aspect of your profile/CV gives the right impression.

4. Think about what else is going on in the photo.

If there is a distracting background, the focus will likely be taken from you. If this is going to be the case, make sure it is for the right reasons. If the photograph is of you volunteering at a charity event, make sure that this is clear and not confusing so that it sends the right message. Your profile picture doesn’t necessarily have to echo a passport photo with completely blank surroundings, but if there are other things going on, make sure they are things that you would be comfortable discussing with a future employer.

5. What are you wearing?

This once again comes back to how you want employers to view you. It is important to remember that you don’t necessarily have to be wearing a suit, but you still want to maintain some level of professionalism. A lot of people (men in particular) will opt for a photo where they are in formal dress as it automatically strikes a tone, but it isn’t the only way to achieve an ‘employable’ look. ‘Selfie’ style photographs are generally not a good choice for your LinkedIn profile of for including in your CV.

6. Say cheese!

It might sound a bit silly, but we are obviously automatically inclined to warm to people who look bright and friendly, and the simplest way to achieve this in a photograph is with a smile. Let’s face it, would you really want to hire someone who is scowling? Or worse still, duck-facing?

7. Make sure what they see is what they get

Ideally, you want to try and make sure that your photo is a recent one, taken no longer than 18 months prior to your application. If the person that turns up to the interview looks completely different to the person advertised, this could potentially lead to some very awkward questions!