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April 18, 2024

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Spring Housing Guide

Profile pictures on LinkedIn may impact staffing decisions

While qualifications for a job are important for recruiters, physical attractiveness also plays a determining role among many hiring managers.

“When applying for a job, most people don’t include a picture with resumes because employers have the option of scanning through online profiles if interested in what you look like,” Nicolas Salter, an assistant professor at Ramapo College of New Jersey and member of Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology in Bowling Green said.

Research found that personal pictures can bias staffing decisions. If someone does include a photo, the person is allowing the chance of being judged, but if someone doesn’t upload one, people may begin to wonder why there isn’t one when the majority of profiles have them.

“The debate on whether or not you should include a picture of yourself on your LinkedIn® account is an important one when it comes to staffing decisions,” Salter said.

Senior Kali Gibbons agrees with Salter.

“I think it all comes down to the type of picture you put online,” she said. “LinkedIn’s purpose is to show your online resume, so of course you want something professional.”

Salter and his partner in the study Tiffany Poeppelman, a scientist at Aptima and member of SIOP, sought to learn how having an attractive versus unattractive picture on a LinkedIn® account is perceived and compared to no picture at all.

“I can’t stress enough how vital it is to have a profile picture, especially on a site designed as an online resume for hiring managers to view,” Salter said. “It is there for a reason and people should utilize it.”

The study included recruiters who were split into two groups and randomly assigned to look at two online resumes with equivalent content consisting of one profile with a picture, and the other without.

While one group viewed a profile with a more attractive picture of a person, the other group looked at one with a less attractive photo. Overall, the results found that people prefer a picture over none at all.

“When we viewed the results from the group who looked at the person with the attractive picture and the resume with no photo, the recruiters favored the attractive person’s resume,” Salter said. “Then we viewed the results from the second group who looked at the unattractive photo and the profile without a picture and they said both candidates were equally qualified for the job.”

A follow-up study was conducted where participants were asked open-ended questions.

“Some recruiters said a person without a photo might be considered dishonest, hiding something, lazy or sloppy,” Salter said. “They also viewed the profile as incomplete, indicating the applicant may not be very detail oriented.”

Recruiters think they can look at a picture and know the personality of an applicant before meeting them, Salter added. The tricky thing for applicants is they may not know what kind of photo for a resume account, such as LinkedIn®, is appropriate.

Gibbons said she has seen multiple profiles with goofy pictures that don’t qualify for the website at all.

“You want people to take you seriously, so people should make sure their profile picture isn’t one of them drunk at a party,” she said.

An article by the Miriam Salpeter at U.S. News & World Report suggests steps to consider before uploading a picture. It recommends posting an up-close, high-quality photo, and a nice smile with no distracting accessories.

“They may think by viewing a picture they can learn more about who they are by piecing together parts of their resume with the photo, as well as determining their qualification for the job,” he said.

Gibbons agrees and said she thinks profile pictures for any type of social media website can help others get a feel of someone’s age and how they might portray themselves.

Senior Nate Adams also agrees, which is the main reason he tries to put a profile picture up for every social media site.

“I think it is a little silly that employees seem to judge or pick and choose like that, but on the other hand, I do understand they want to see the whole package and putting up a profile picture allows them to do that,” Adams said.

Ultimately, employers prefer looking at a resume with a picture provided, Salter said.

Everyone makes judgments about a person’s profile so Salter encourages people to completely fill out their online account and profile.

“Take social media seriously, because employers will,” Salter said.

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