How to Take a Great Selfie for Work

Think the art of taking the perfect selfie is frivolous? Think again. In today's work world, we "meet" clients, co-workers, and even our bosses online before we meet them in person. Learning how to take a professional-looking and flattering photo of yourself is more important than ever before. The latest research in psychology shows how to make the best first impression online.

(Photo Credit: Proceedings of the National Academy of Science PNAS)

In a recent study from the University of York in England, researchers singled out three qualities that go into making a good first impression, online or off-: approachability, dominance, and youthful-attractiveness.

Some of the physical attributes that contribute to first impressions include eye height and eyebrow width, which we cannot control. However, with careful use of lighting, facial expression, and angle at which you hold your head, you can affect the appearance of your facial features and inspire positive reactions in those who view your pictures.


When ascertaining a new acquaintance's approachability, we ask ourselves, "Does this person want to help or harm me?" If you are looking for a job or new clients on LinkedIn, for example, you may want to come across as approachable.

Looking directly into the camera and smiling seems to enhance your approachability. The bigger the smile, the more approachable. Careful to give a real smile, however; a forced clown smile is obvious and doesn't inspire trust.


Dominance is about the question, "Can this person help or harm me?" Dominance relates to competence, or the ability to successfully help or harm.

Slightly squarer faces are seen as more dominant, as are straight eyebrows. Some eyebrows are shaped like an upside-down "U"; these are seen as less dominant. Also, a darker complexion is seen as more dominant. A dominant photo subject smiles, but not as big and wide as a more approachable person.


This category is more social; the question is, "Will this person make a good romantic partner or mate?" Highest-rated selfies for youthful-attractiveness have large eyes. Instead of holding their heads up directly toward the camera, high scorers in this category may have their chins slightly down but are still looking straight into the camera.

The dominant and youthful-attractiveness avatars are the opposite of each other, for the most part. The youthful-attractiveness avatars are more rounded and softer than their dominant counterparts.

Play with your head shots, and use this information to craft the best first impression on your social media sites.You won't get the job based solely on a more attractive photo, but making a good first impression won't hurt -- and it might even get you that all-important first contact from a recruiter.

Tell Us What You Think

What are your tips for taking a better selfie? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.


  1. 5 Dan 05 Oct
    Yes taking a good picture of yourself is a good thing to know; however, avoid the "selfie" like the plague when trying to take a professional picture. A selfie refers to those arm length self portraits usually taken spontaneously and almost never make for a portrait you'd want to send to a potential new boss or potential client. I get images like these all the time that we have to use in publications and they almost always turn out bad. Entertaining a lot of times and very occasionally are decent enough to use but the selfie for a business picture is akin to having a booger sticking out of your nose for the high school yearbook picture. Being a photographer myself I agree with Denise and coulkat...get someone to take it for you, hire a professional or get a decent tripod (the timer feature isn't too hard to learn :)
  2. 4 Colin 19 Aug
    So; modern professionalism is basically just applied phrenology is it?
  3. 3 Denise 14 Aug
    Get someone to take a pic on a smartphone then run it through the app YouCam Perfect. Sorted!
  4. 2 coulkat 14 Aug
    Best advice? DON'T take a selfie. Hire a professional. If you don't want to invest in yourself, then why would anyone else? Unless you are applying for an outdoors job at a ranch, zoo or camp position, it just won't work.
  5. 1 BrianW16 14 Aug
    I was expecting more "how to" than just looking directly into the camera. Most of this info is about physical attributes that we cannot control.


  1. Please prove to us that you're not a robot:

Find Out Exactly What You Should Be Paid

United States (change)

Comp Managers: Start Here »