Many people invest hours into creating the perfect LinkedIn profile. They tediously list every award they’ve won and scour the thesaurus looking to find the right verb to describe their work experience.
Yet, many of those same people spend little time thinking about their profile picture. Maybe it’s a cool candid photo someone took with a smartphone. Or maybe, it’s a professional head shot that was taken in a studio for another job. But either way, people often use what they have on-hand without laboring too much over the impact that photo might have.
But, there’s some evidence that says your profile picture might play the biggest role in determining whether you land a job.
What The Research Reveals
A new study published in Social Psychological and Personality Sciencefound that someone’s first impressions of you from a photograph are likely to stick, even after you meet in-person.
In the first phase of the study, participants looked at photographs of four women who were smiling in one instance and had a neutral expression in another. Then, they were asked whether they’d likely want to be friends with that woman.
They also were asked to weigh in on her personality. They judged how likely she was to be extroverted, agreeable, emotionally stable, conscientious, and open to new experiences.
The participants met one of the photographed women between one month and six months later. They weren’t reminded of the scores or impressions they had previously offered.
Participants were told to play a trivia game for 10 minutes with the woman and then they were instructed to spend another 10 minutes getting to know one another as well as possible. After each interaction, participants evaluated how likable the woman was and how they perceived her personality.
Remarkably, participants’ evaluations of the woman remained consistent with their impressions from the photograph. Those who thought she looked like a nice person continued to view her in a positive light after meeting her.
Participants who had thought she looked disagreeable, close-minded, and emotionally unstable in the photographs maintained those same judgments after they met.
Why First Impressions Remain Consistent
The authors of the study offer two reasons why first impressions from a photo remain unchanged after an in-person meeting:
1. The halo effect – When you have a positive first impression of someone, you are more likely to attribute other positive characteristics to that individual as well. For example, if you think someone looks like a nice person, you are more likely to assume that person is also socially competent, has a healthy marriage, and is a good parent.
2. Self-fulfilling prophecy – If you think someone is likable, you’re more likely to behave friendly, which increases the chances that you’ll have a positive interaction. Similarly, if you deem someone to be unlikable, you may be more standoffish, which can lead to a negative interaction.
What This Means For Your LinkedIn Photo
A hiring manager who sees your photo on LinkedIn will develop a specific impression of you. And that impression will likely remain constant during an interview–and beyond.
So it’s important to think about how you look in your photo. What are people likely to conclude about your personality and your competence by looking at you?
You certainly can’t control how everyone will perceive you. Perhaps you resemble a cousin someone never liked. Or maybe a grumpy hiring manager assumes anyone with a smile as big as yours must be hiding something.
But, you can take steps to ensure your picture will portray you in a positive manner most of the time. Your wardrobe, makeup, hairstyle, body language, and facial expression will give someone a lasting first impression.
It’s worth it to take some time examining what vibe your picture might be sending. You can even try different photos over a series of time to see which one seems to get you noticed the most on LinkedIn.
This article has been re-blogged from Forbes… view the original here.