LinkedIn: Choosing the perfect profile pic

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(MoneyWatch) These days, few recruiters won't read your LinkedIn page before they call you in for an interview. Because of this, your first impression happens when they click on your profile and see your photo, not when you meet face-to-face. "The reality is people make assessments about us, including our competence, confidence and even experience, in about 2.2 seconds. That's not nearly enough time to really get to know us, see what we can deliver or even read our whole profile, for that matter," notes LinkedIn's Connection Director Nicole Williams. Recently, I asked Williams what she considers key to a picture-perfect profile photo. Here's what she said:

CBS MoneyWatch: What qualities make a great profile photo?

Nicole Williams: An effective profile photo conveys energy. Sit up straight, set your shoulders back, smile, open your eyes and think of something you really enjoy -- hopefully that's your job -- and voila! You're non-verbally communicating that you're confident and competent.

MW: What makes a bad profile photo?

NW: The worst thing is to have no photo at all. It's a lot like when you're online looking for a house, a car or a date -- if there's no photo, it's like 'there must be something wrong.' Your LinkedIn profile is seven times more likely to get viewed if you have a photo.

MW: Any other poor choices you see people make too often?

NW: Other photos you want to avoid are those that include both you and your baby (unless you're a pediatrician) or your dog (unless you're a vet). Also, don't use an old photo even if you're concerned about your age. At the end to the day, your goal is a professional relationship which is hard to build when you're basing it upon a false identity.

MW: How important is your industry in determining what type of shot to use?

NW: It's definitely a consideration. The more quickly and pervasively you can convey "fit" the better. Your hair style, the clothes you wear, even the background of the picture can help people to see you in your professional role.

MW: Do you need to pay to have a professional headshot taken?

NW: If you aren't looking for an on-camera gig then you do not need to spend extra money on profile shots. Have your photo taken by someone who puts you at ease. Also, people respond better to color photos, which have more life and energy than black-and-white ones.

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons user TomChen1989

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    Amy Levin-Epstein is a freelance writer who has been published in dozens of magazines (including Glamour, Self and Redbook), websites (including AOLHealth.com, Babble.com and Details.com) and newspapers (including The New York Post and the Boston Globe). To read more of her writing, visit AmyLevinEpstein.com.

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