The Social Age: How Your Picture Impacts Your Job Search

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We are living in the social age; a world where social technology provides us with countless portals of access to our friends, families, businesses, and communities. Every hour of every day, my iPhone alerts me of a Facebook notification, a tweet, a comment on an Instagram photo, or someone reaching out to connect on linked in. So not surprisingly, social media plays a huge role in everyday life. Here are some proof points:

• 46% internet users are on FB.
• More FB profiles are created every second than people are born.
• There are more than two billion searches on twitter every day.
• 56% of phones in the U.S are Smartphones, smartphones to access FB, LinkedIn, and Twitter.
• More than 350 million photos are uploaded to FB in one day, which hammers out to be around 4,000 per second.
• The average American spends 40 minutes a day accessing social media.

As technology and social media continue to grow, more and more organizations are recognizing its importance. Nearly 92% of companies use social media to recruit possible new hires. More often these days, an employer may peruse your linked in, or Facebook profile before determining your hire status. One of the biggest deal breakers, believe it or not, is your photo. Your picture is how you chose to represent yourself. It’s your “individual brand.” Having a picture too grainy or pixelated, or in a poorly lit atmosphere, or at a party with your favorite adult beverage in hand usually signals your potential employer that you aren’t detail orientated, nor a determined professional truly seeking a new career.

Princeton researchers have found that people form their impression of you from your photo in one tenth of a second. Your employers spend an average of 6 seconds looking at a Linked in Profile, with 19% of that time looking at your profile picture. Wearing sunglasses make you appear 10% less likeable, while anything that obstructs clear view of your eyes, like a shadow or glare bring down your professional competence by 15%, and knocks another 8% off of your influence on others.

Smiling with teeth shown has twice the effect of benefitting you, leading your audience to find you relatable, likable, and someone they can trust, versus smiling with your mouth closed. Smiling with your mouth closed leads your viewer to believe you are potentially cold, uptight, or too rigid.

There are two things one can do to add a boost to their “individual brand.” The first: hire a professional photographer. A professional knows lighting, angels, how to pose you, and the biggest benefit being Photoshop to edit any unnecessary shadow or glare. The second thing you can do: DRESS FORMALLY! Dressing in appropriate business attire doesn’t only make you look like you fit the part of a true professional, but also plays a key part in getting you hired. Employers perceive you to be 43% more competent, and 58% more influential in the industry you work in!

“One Picture Worth Is Worth Ten Thousand Words.” – Fred R. Barnard, 1927

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