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Advice / Job Search / Networking

What Does Your LinkedIn Photo Say About You?

When it comes to a photo for your LinkedIn profile, you know the rules: Use a current shot, make sure it’s professional, don’t choose something with other people’s heads sort-of-but-not-really cropped out of the frame.

But turns out, there’s a whole lot more that should go in to choosing the perfect picture—from how you smile to what you’re wearing to even the way you’re positioning your face in the frame.

In fact, research shows that all of these factors and more affect what people think of you when they see your photo—specifically, how likable, competent, and influential you seem. For example, having your eyes shaded or blocked by a glare, your hair, or sunglasses can hurt your impression, while slightly squinching them will enhance it. Even things you wouldn’t ever really think about—for instance, whether your full jawline is revealed in the photo—can have a significant impact on how you’re perceived.

Want to know what your photo is saying? Enter PhotoFeeler, a site that not only offers research-backed ways to boost the impression you’re giving off, it allows you to upload a photo and get a read on exactly what others think of you based on it.

Better yet, you can upload a few photos, and see how the results differ. For example, see how this professional’s perceived competence and influence goes up when he changes how he is standing and looking at the camera:

Aside from being sort of fun, the tool and its tips for boosting your score in each category help you see if the photos you’re using enhance your personal brand. Want to be seen as an expert in your field? Ditch the polo shirt and throw on a blazer. Are you a personal trainer or coach hoping to attract new clients? Make sure you use a big, wide smile instead of a close-mouthed one. Want to get a job in any field ever? Don’t use a selfie. (OK, you probably already knew that one.)

Fair or not, we’re often judged by our looks, even in a professional environment. But while you can’t change that, you can use this knowledge to your advantage to ensure you’re making the best impression possible.