e've all been there. You've taken 30 selfies, and now you are down to 3. Which one do you upload? I'm sure you've faced these issues when uploading social photos as well as professional photos. You want to make sure your personal brand sings to the top of its lungs every time you post. However, that pesky piece of hair or that smudge of lipstick ruins the moment! Should that be a big deal?
According to The Association For Psychological Science, Princeton psychologists Janine Willis and Alexander Todorov found it only takes 100 milliseconds to form an impression of someone from just looking at a photo of their face. I didn't mean to put pressure on you, but this is something you do every day. You make judgments based on one photo and you either swipe left to decline or right to accept. What if an employer did the same? What if that dream job decides to swipe left on your aspirations? Is it your fault or are they just "too judgemental"?
I don't think it is fully your fault; however, if you take the time to understand human behavior you can steer clear of certain perceptions. User Research has been used to study human behaviors, their needs, and motivations through observation techniques. You can use user research for your professional life as well.
I thought this photo was perfect for my professional image. After reading an article about The Psychological Impacts of Your LinkedIn Photo, I totally changed my mind and I trashed every "professional" photo I thought I had. I realized my seemingly professional photos weren't professional at all. I took new pictures and here are the results based on the survey from Photofeeler.
There are lots of factors to consider when analyzing the results. I've already considered potential racial bias, a lack of understanding when it comes to what a User Experience Designer is, beauty standards, gender bias, etc. I even thought about removing my photo completely. There are a few companies using LinkedIn Unbiased, a Google Chrome extension used to remove profile photos from LinkedIn in an effort to reduce bias. Though it sounds cool, I removed my photo for a month and found cobwebs in my inbox. I'm assuming catfishing is a problem on LinkedIn as well. There are definitely benefits to both but I decided to upload a photo even if it was for experimental purposes.
My thoughts: This reminds me of the "Since you're pretty, you must be dumb" line. I'm likable but I'm not that competent or influential according to the survey takers. Personally, I don't think the color red allowed me to create the best persona for this photo. Also, my background was very busy. For the eye comment, I think that's more of a hair comment so I guess I should pick a hairstyle where my face is completely visible.
My thoughts: The results from this photo made me chuckle. Flirty? Arrogant? Unprofessional? Here I am with a black top, and a professional black pencil skirt from the clearance section at Ross. How did I become unprofessional when I shopped in the "professional" section of the store! Is it my arms being folded, the body language, my keys in my hand, my naturally serious face, or my angled gaze?
My thoughts: Yes, I agree, the background is distracting.
My thoughts: For some reason, I was very uncomfortable while taking this photo. My smile was definitely forced.
My thoughts: This photo and the photo underneath were the two photos I liked the most. I felt the yellow background helped me stand out in LinkedIn Search results. Also, based on Color Psychology, yellow promoted the persona of creativity so I wanted to highlight that. I thought this photo captured my natural smile, my signature look (Big Hair and Bold Colors) and highlighted my face well. I paid for the survey to run a little longer for a precise result.
I think the results were great. There were comments about smiling less or choosing a different hairstyle but there is nothing I can do about my naturally big smile and natural big hair.
My thoughts: The results were great for this photo as well. The surveyors still mentioned my hairstyle and background but overall there were good comments.
I based my decision on 4 factors:
The last photo gave more of a professional tone in my opinion. Even though the photo with the yellow background highlights my signature look, I think the last photo shows a look that I also sport during the year. I'm aware that this photo will promote more racial bias because I have braids/dread/extensions in my hair and there have been lots of issues around hiring someone with this hairstyle: See Essence article. A Federal appeals court ruled that refusing to hire an employee with locs is not racial discrimination in 2016. This is my way to help companies who have problems with braids/locs/hair extensions to look elsewhere. This will be my hairstyle majority of the year and it's my way to protect my hair. I'll rather be seen this way upfront than to come into work with braids and face potential issues.