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Your social media profile photos are creating a first impression whether you like it or not.  If you are not using an image on your profile, chances are your potential employers are checking you out on social media.  What impressions do you think your social images are projecting?

We asked Karen Merry, a professional portrait photographer from Melbourne to give us some tips.

A study by job website theladders.com indicated that recruiters spend more time looking at your photo than reading your resume.

An eye-tracking heat map found that they spent 19% of their time on your photo and significantly less time reviewing your skills or past work experience.

People spend a lot of time putting up a profile, creating content and documenting evidence of their experience and successes, but your profile might not even get past the first hurdle.

The message you send with the image is always going to be open to interpretation and although you can’t control your audiences response, there are definitely photo types you can avoid to improve your chances.

9 Tips for a Great Profile Photo

  1. Show a recent (last 12 months) photo of you
  2. Show a photo with a solid background and no distraction around you
  3. Engage your target audience
  4. Show you in a professional light
  5. Show a photo of only you
  6. Wear what makes you feel confident. It’s the best way to improve your image.
  7. Wear clothing that is appropriate for your profession.
  8. Choose colours that will assist with sending the message to your market.
  9. Be intentional with your message.

Images to Avoid:

1. No Photo: Silhouette Image of Generic Head

If you haven’t found time to add your profile photo, remember that you are 14 times less likely to be viewed without a photo.  You may think that it shouldn’t make a difference, but it will be interpreted as “what are you hiding?”

Projecting a great image of you will create a memorable first impression and an authenticity in that connection.

2. A webcam or phone selfie

We’ve all done them,  right?

The truth is that the webcam angle is never flattering, the extra chins from the angle alone should be enough to stop you from taking these shots!  Phone selfies can afford a better angle but can make you look narcissistic, especially if you use the pouty Kardashian look.

The connection with your eyes is usually not good on a selfie because you are busy looking at the screen instead of your camera.

3. Poor Composition

Cropping the chin out of a photo because you don’t like it, creates an imbalance in the image that will put people off subconsciously.

They will know that something is not quite right, even though they might not recognise why.

Your image has only 1/10 of a second to connect with some someone and there’s a lot of competition for jobs, don’t give an employer a reason to move on.

4. Photo With Alcohol

You’re all dressed up and feel confident in the photo, you just happen to have a drink in hand.  Is that so bad?

It sends an unprofessional message to your audience which may have human resources or agents moving on to the next candidate very quickly!

Leave the social shots for social media like Facebook or Instagram feeds but not for your profile photo.

5. Sunglasses

Your eyes are the most important way to connect with others. They are the window to your soul and will demonstrate your authenticity.

People make a connection with you by looking at your eyes.

With no eyes there is no connection.

6. Photos With Other People

What was the first thing you looked at in this shot?  Was it the half face?  It’s quite confusing to have half of someone else’s face in the shot and the viewer is drawn to the half face as it tries to make sense of the shot. The impression is that something is not quite right. When your profile shot is only viewed for a short time, you want it to be as memorable as possible and you want it to be memorable for all the right reasons.

People will want to find out more about you when you look approachable and project a professional image. Create a reason to connect and generate opportunities.

As a headshot photographer I have seen some interesting before shots! I can tell you that the difference a professional shot makes to the success of your profile is immeasurable. Most people walk in to the studio saying how much they dislike having their photo taken. Your facial expressions will tell just how comfortable you are and a good photographer will always create a space for you to feel more comfortable and confident.   It’s not about how attractive you are, it’s about the professionalism of the image that is being projected.

Karen Merry is a Melbourne based photographer who specialises in headshot photography. The images she creates will engage your audience and send the right message, head to merryimages.com.au or contact karen@merryimages.com.au.


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