What does your profile picture say about you?

Advice for PAs and carers looking to find new work

A picture is worth a thousand words, so the saying goes. What does your profile picture say about you – and are you portraying the right image?

Research has shown that although it only takes up a very small amount of screen space, your profile picture can tell a viewer a lot about your personality, from how outgoing to how conscientious you are.  

On EYJA your profile photo is likely to be the first thing a potential employer will see. With that in mind, it’s very important to portray the right image as this may help you connect with potential employers more quickly.

Your intended audience

“The picture you chose should match the intended audience,” says Graham Jones, a psychologist who specialises in Internet use and behaviour. “Consider who will be looking at it, so you can make sure the viewer connects with the image and isn’t put off.”

Those using EYJA to find new job opportunities should choose an image that portrays professionalism and friendliness. For starters, pick a photo where you’re suitably dressed.

“It is amazing how many people have profile pictures from holiday snaps, where men are shirtless and women are in swimsuits. This means even if the picture is cropped, there is bare flesh visible on the shoulders, for example. Dress in the clothes that the visitor you are targeting would find acceptable,” Graham advises.

Following on from this it’s also important to consider cultural and generational differences. For example, you may want to remove visible body piercings or cover extensive tattoos. It all goes back to thinking about who will be looking at your profile and what will attract them to your picture.

A professional or personal photo?

There are two strategies you can take for choosing a profile picture – going for a professional image or one with a more personal feel.

Graham notes that for the majority of potential employers a head and shoulders photo is the most appealing, with the individual looking directly into the camera – thereby making eye contact. Images that appear professionally taken are also rated more positively than ‘snaps’. But although Graham recommends a professional photographer, he does point out that you can easily put together a ‘DIY’ professional pic.

Say no to selfies

“A good headshot photographer might cost money, but it will be repaid in the increased likelihood of getting the work. But if you can't afford a photographer, avoid selfies,” he advises. “Get a friend to take a picture outside and use something like an ironed sheet hanging on a clothesline to provide a clean white background.”

Revealing your personality

However, when it comes to employers who are looking for someone to work and often live in their home, they may want to learn more from your profile picture, such as personality traits. With this in mind, you might want to use a photo that reveals more about you – perhaps a shot of you doing something you love. Full body photos can also be good for showing a potential employer your height and build, as some clients may need manual lifting or other physical assistance.

Food for thought? Clearly there are pros and cons to choosing either type of profile picture, however, in the end, there’s one thing you’re trying to achieve – a connection.

“People look at these profile images for a short amount of time simply to assess one thing: "is that person like me?’” Graham concludes.  

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