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Why Your Profile Picture Is Making You Look Dumb (and How to Fix It)

Unfortunately, they’re everywhere – those “what were they thinking” profile pictures that baffle the rest of us. If you’re one of the embarrassing ones who just can’t quite get your social media profile pic together, then here are a few valuable tips to help you save face online.

professional picture

(Photo Credit: betsyweber/Flickr)

First things first: if you’re too lazy to even upload a profile photo, then you probably don’t deserve that potential employer to call you back. Not having a profile picture is worse than having a questionable one, because it tells hiring managers that you are careless, neglectful, and don’t follow through on simple tasks. Now that we’ve convinced you of the importance of having a profile picture, let’s discuss the components of what makes a good photo.

1. Smile – Choose a picture where you look pleasant and happy, rather than a photo that looks like you’re about to fight someone. We’re not saying you need a “cheesy” smile, by any means, but a soft smile will do. The point is to convey that you’re a likeable, friendly person who isn’t afraid to smile sometimes.

2. Professional – It definitely helps if you’re dressed the part in your photo, however, you want to remember that the main focus should be on your face so that people viewing your profile can clearly identify you. What we’re getting at here is that you should wear attire in your headshot that doesn’t make you look like you just finished working out. Obviously, that may get you noticed, but not hired. Opt for a simple button-down or blazer, not a halter top or bikini.

3. Clear – Another important component of a proper profile picture is that it is clear and not blurry. So many people assume putting a blurry, off-centered picture of themselves that a friend snapped at a networking event will suffice. Sorry, Charlie, that is a big no-no in our books. If your profile picture looks sloppy, hurried, and careless, then what do you think that says about you as a professional? These little things count when it comes to wooing recruiters online, so leave no rock unturned when snapping and selecting your social media profile picture.

4. Current – It may be tempting to put up a photo of you in your “younger years,” but don’t give in, because a current photo is always best. Ladies, this means those '80s style Glamour Shots simply will not do. Major letdown, we know and we’re terribly sorry. Having a current picture of yourself allows employers to see that you are who you say you are, and not a 40-something trying to pass himself off as 20-something. Convey the present-day you and you will be just fine.

5. Size matters – Every social media platform has different size requirements for profile pictures, so be sure to pay attention to this when you’re uploading your photo. To help you out, The Financial Brand published a social media picture cheat sheet explaining in great detail the different formatting requirements for each major social platform. You want to ensure that your picture takes up the entire frame and isn’t too small, big, skinny, or stretched after uploading it to each site. This step may be a big frustrating, as it may require a bit of re-sizing and reformatting, but it’s worthwhile if it helps you get noticed by a recruiter.

It’s time to get spiffy, people, and snap some profile pictures that scream, “Hire me!” You don’t want to miss out on any professional opportunities because you were too lazy to upload a decent picture of yourself.

Say, "Cheese!"

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What's the worst profile picture you've come across and why was it so bad? Share what you spotted on social media with our community on Twitter or in the comments section below.

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