Your avatar on social media

Whether you like it or not, a good part of who you are on social media is your image.

The images you choose to represent yourself – the pictures you choose to tweet, your Facebook cover photo, your LinkedIn profile picture – all come together to give the people you’re connected to a glimpse into who you are.

So if you haven’t given your self-image much thought, now’s a great time to start.

A Good Profile Picture Can Get You Hired

Why should you care about your social media image? Reason #1: it can get you hired (or cause employers to pass you over).

A study of LinkedIn profiles by the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology found that those with pictures were more likely to be hired than those without:

“Researchers discovered candidates pictured on their profiles were considered more favorable than candidates without a picture. The study also found that applicants with attractive pictures were not only seen as preferable but as stronger and better job applicants.”

If one of your reasons for using social media is to get a job, you’ve got to pay attention to the kind of image you’re projecting on LinkedIn and other networks.

Using a professional photo with a smiling face will engender positive feelings from potential employers, and can give you a leg up – even if it’s subconscious.

A Professional Profile Picture Can Make People Care More About You

A recent experiment from the folks at SEOmoz showed that by changing a profile picture from a blurry, web-cam-type photo to one taken by a professional photographer increased clicks on the articles shared from that profile by 35%, and improved engagement, too.

Good lighting, a smiling face and a focused shot can go a long way in helping people connect with you across your social media profiles.

And you don’t have to invest in a professional photo shoot, either: just get a friend to take a few snaps of you looking your best in a nice, well-lit setting and you should be set!

5 Types Of Profile Pictures To Avoid

If you’re ready to reevaluate your profile pictures, take a look at this list of five things to avoid first – and make sure you put your best face forward:

  1. Group photos – if someone visiting your profile can’t tell which of the 10 people in the photo is you, you’ve got a problem.
  2. Scenic shotsyou should be the focus of your profile picture, not mountains, the ocean, or a lush forest.
  3. Pictures of your pets, car, food… – again, you want visitors to be able to look at your profile picture and get to know you, not necessarily your new kitten.
  4. Pictures of your latest night out on the town – the picture might be flattering, but if you’ve got a beer in your hand and a low-cut shirt, it’s probably not the best way to present yourself on social media.
  5. A cropped photo – this one is the sin of many, so if you do it, you’re not alone: using a group photo and cropping to down to just your face. This is a bad idea, as it looks unprofessional (and usually pretty unflattering, too).

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