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What makes a good profile picture

by Lindsey Nathan on 24 October 2017 13:58pm 2888

Don’t underestimate the importance of a good profile picture; people looking for a Home Helper may never get beyond it to read your story if they judge you to be unapproachable from your chosen image.

Whether you like it or not, people’s first impressions can be greatly affected by the quality of your photo, so it’s important to be aware of its actual effect on those looking for care or companionship. Invest time getting it right as it’s your first chance to convey that you are friendly, likeable, and trustworthy.

According to research by social psychologist Amy Cuddy of Harvard Business School, as much as 80-90% of that first impression is based on just two qualities — trustworthiness and competence. It may shock you to learn that it only takes 100 milliseconds to form an impression of someone from just looking at a photo of their face.

Here’s how to nail that all-important image:

Be authentically you

We all favour photos that we believe paint us in a good light and capture the best version of ourselves, but if your photo was taken more than three years ago then it’s time to consider an updated image.

If people are surprised when they meet you in person because you don’t resemble your profile picture then they’re unlikely to trust you and may question why you posted such a misleading photo.

Select a photograph that reflects how you look on a daily basis and wear what you’d wear to work, so that you’re instantly recognisable on that first meeting. Ask for the input of friends and family who know you best as to which picture to post.


A genuine warm smile, where your eyes are smiling as well as your mouth, provides a window into your character. By smiling you’ll help create an instant connection that will make you appear approachable. A smile is a powerful form of non-verbal communication.

Have a play around with your smile until you capture the real you – if you’re uncomfortable posing for the camera then it will show in your eyes. The best smile in terms of competence and influence perceptions is a smile with teeth, according to PhotoFeeler a tool that gives you feedback on your profile pictures via actual people who vote on your image.

No pouting and no selfies  

Remember that this image is designed to convey your professional qualities and help secure you a job – pouting does not belong here!

Selfies are a no, no too because they tend to be of lower quality, as your ability to frame the image correctly and control for light, etc., is compromised. People viewing your profile may also be forgiven for assuming that you’re not taking your role seriously.

Only you

This isn’t the place for a group or family shot – only your face should appear in frame and that also means that you shouldn’t ‘cut’ yourself out by cropping a larger image. No family, friends, pets, logos, statues etc.

Don’t hide your face either by wearing a hat, sunglasses or by having your hair over your eyes.

A few easy tricks

  • Light - great profile pictures are about great light and the source of that light should come from in front of you

  • Background - keep it simple so that you are the focal point and there are no distractions behind you

  • In focus - your features need to be sharp, not blurred so if there are darker shadows in the background, make sure they aren't obscuring your face

  • Frame - head and shoulders or head to waist and use the rule of thirds

So, what does your image say about you?

If you need any more convincing of the importance of your photo then we’ll leave you with this to think about:  an eye-tracking heatmap created by job site TheLadders found that recruiters spend 19% of their time on your online profile looking at your picture. Not as much time is spent on your skills or past work experience.

Happy snapping.

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