Your Profile Picture is Bringing Down Your Job Search

Your head shot should add value to your profile. Fix these common mistakes to get it on the right track.

To help, I’ve created a list of nine profile picture pitfalls to avoid.

Profile Picture Pitfalls from Ladders Blurry or Too Small

Ideally your photo should be 200 x 200 pixels or larger. Anything smaller and you’re guaranteed to end up with a fuzzy or teeny tiny image that just screams unprofessional. I recommend choosing a square head shot, as it’s sure to work with all your professional social media accounts.

Too Close or Too Far Away

Stick with a standard head shot for your profile pic. Prospective employers and those in your professional network have no desire to examine your dental work, and a shot from far away won’t help them identify you at an event or interview.

The Group Shot

Remember, this picture is supposed to represent your professional brand – no one else’s. Don’t make recruiters guess which person you are in the photo. Use an image that shows you and only you.

The Crop

Cropping yourself out of the group shot doesn’t work either. While it may be your favorite picture, no one wants to see half of your loved one’s face or your best friend’s hair on your shoulder. Stick to a solo shot that doesn’t require Photoshop.

Bad Lighting

Not only do these pictures look creepy, but they are certainly not providing employers with a positive, professional first impression.

Too Serious

Opt for photos where you’re looking at the camera and smiling. You don’t necessarily need a cheesy grin on your face, but you want to appear friendly and approachable. The “glamour shots” aren’t doing you any favors.

Goofy Expressions

Remember, this image is supposed to represent your professional brand. When you look at your profile photo, does it send the same message as your resume?

Pet or Baby Pic

Yes, your puppy is adorable and your family is beautiful. However, that’s not what your professional network or a prospective employer needs to know about you. Save these cute pics for your personal social-media channels such as Facebook or Instagram. Stick to a photo of yourself for your professional profiles.

No Photo

As I mentioned earlier, recruiters today expect to find a head shot with your professional profile. In her article on profile photos, job search strategist Meg Guiseppi says the first thing recruiters and hiring managers notice is your photo…or lack of one.

“If you have no photo, their initial thought will likely be, ‘What is this person trying to hide?,’” says Guiseppi.

If you’re concerned that including your photo could cause people to discriminate against you, I urge you to carefully weigh the benefits and drawbacks of the profile photo before making a final decision. The right image can reinforce your brand and help viewers connect more easily with your profile.

Best Practices

Use a recent head shot that meets the file type and size and pixel size recommended by each site. Consider your outfit, the background of the shot, and the lighting to ensure it reflects your current professional brand and career goals.

Having no photo is better than uploading one that doesn’t project the right image, so put some thought into the picture you choose to represent your professional brand.

Amanda Augustine

Amanda Augustine Amanda Augustine is a well-recognized expert in all things related to career advancement: from identifying your dream job, to developing your professional brand, to acing your next interview. She is a job search and career consultant with a passion for helping people find the find the right job, sooner. Learn more at JobSearchAmanda.com