Picture Perfect Profile Pics For Professionals

A picture says a thousand words. But what does your profile pic actually say about you?

It used to be that only actors and models would typically send a headshot along with their resume. But nowadays, when recruiters are combing your social media accounts looking for signs that you are (or are not!) the best fit for the job, and people exchange digital follows instead of business cards, the profile pic acts as the proverbial first page of everyone’s professional portfolio.

We are all well aware that, despite always being told not to judge a book by its cover, we still make many rapid assessments and assumptions about a person within seconds of meeting them. This has simply been a necessary evil for human survival, where speedily navigating the differences between threats and non-threats in our environment could make the difference between life and death. And, while introducing yourself online may not be a life-or-death situation exactly, the stakes can still be high when making the right impression could make or break your career.

So how do you say the right thing with the thousand words you have? Here are some helpful tips to being picture perfect!

Smile for the camera!

Saying “CHEESE!” isn’t just part of the countdown until a picture is taken. It’s a way to stretch your lips out into the happiest expression you can muster.

Smiling in your picture profile is important, because it sends the message that you are friendly and approachable, and have a positive attitude. When recruiters and employers are looking at potential new team members, they’re looking for these types of traits, because that’s the type of person most of us would want to spend our working days with, and who customers will respond to best.

Lose the goofy

While being positive is a plus, when it comes to your professional profile pic, goofy isn’t so great.

While spontaneity and cutting loose are great traits to garner connections in your personal life, they can send the wrong message to potential employers who may not take you as seriously. Pictures of you partying or acting ridiculous will deter you from coming across as the professional you really are.

Go it alone

You might think you look great in that group photo from your last corporate retreat, or dressed up for a night out with your friends, but you’ll be turning your profile into a guessing game for people who haven’t met you yet.

Aside from recruiters having to play “Where’s Waldo?” with your images, it also has an added psychological effect of making you seem less independent, or confident in yourself when you need to be seen as part of a group instead of as a strong solo professional. And even in team-based working environments, employers want every person to be able to handle things on their own.

Get in close and personal

While high aerial drone shots are stunning, and you might look impressive in the distance on top of some monument you just climbed, you want to show off your face, not your photography skills.

A proper headshot is the best for the front of your profile. That means a close-up, upper torso framing that lets people see your face as if they were standing there with you.

Remember, too, that many profile pics are heavily reduced in size on devices. If you’re too far away from the camera, you’ll only be a blip on the screen after the image gets shrunk.

No pets allowed

No one can blame you for wanting to show off your fluffy new kitten, or your adorable doggo. But while pics with animals in them are one of the most popular things to share on personal feeds, they aren’t your best friend when it comes to a professional profile pic.

Think of your picture like an office environment; what is welcome there is how you should comport yourself in your picture. And unfortunately, unless you want to work at a veterinary clinic, chances are your next employer would want you to leave the pets at home.

Draw them in

Maybe you don’t have any great pictures. Or, better, yet, maybe you’re in a creative industry. If that’s the case, then you can consider using a custom designed avatar of you instead of the real thing!

Drawn by hand or with computer graphics software, a caricature of you can be an artistic alternative to the standard headshot. Just refrain from making it too abstract, and keep it lined up to your brand.

That means, if you’re an artist, keep it in your artistic style. Going this route is great if you want people to get a first taste of the kind of work you do. But it can quickly detract from your profile’s sense of professionalism if it gets too cartoonish.

Don’t not have a pic

We’re saying it with double negatives to reinforce how negative it is for your profile’s standing: if you use a default silhouette, or otherwise have no picture uploaded, it’s bad for business.

For one, it comes across as lazy. For two, it looks like you might be trying to hide something by going incognito.

Taking a picture isn’t difficult or time-consuming in today’s world. So grab your nearest camera, and get your face out there for recruiters to see! With these handy tips in mind, you can capture yourself looking as professional as you really are.

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