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.
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Beth Taylor has a background in theater arts, education and psychology. She started writing the Undercover Waitress blog in 2011 to help educate and empower non-union women in the labor force. She originally joined the PayScale blogging team in 2013. Since earning her master's degree in clinical psychology in 2015, she works full-time as a clinician performing psychological evaluations and offering therapy services. She continues to write about psychology and behavior at work.