On the first working day after New Year, your Facebook account may be littered with photos of you indulging over the Christmas break. Maybe you tweaked your profile photo to reflect the festive ambiance?
Is this wise? No. Research suggests the nature of your Facebook profile photo is correlated to your ability to find a new job.
Stijn Baert, a professor of empirical economics at the University of Gent conducted an experiment in which fictitious job candidates applied for real job vacancies in Belgium. They were identical except in one respect: their Facebook profile photos. Baert found that candidates with the most ‘beneficial’ photos were a lot more likely to receive invitations for job interviews than those with least beneficial photos.
More importantly (if you work in banking), Baert found that Facebook profile photos have a greater impact on hiring decisions when candidates are highly educated. They’re also more significant when recruiters are women.
What do beneficial and non-beneficial profile photos look like? Baert used the four pictures below.
Profile photo number 1: A photo that’s most likely to get you a job
Baert found that fictitious candidates using this photo were most likely to get a positive call back from employers. The photo was chosen for its attractiveness, extraversion, agreeableness, emotional stability and openness. However, it ranked less highly only conscientiousness.
Profile photo number 2: A photo that’s fairly likely to get you a job
Fictitious candidates using the photo below were the second most likely to get a positive response from recruiters. The photo below ranked highly for conscientiousness., but more moderately for the other personality dimensions (s attractiveness, extraversion, agreeableness, emotional stability and openness).
Profile photo number 3: A photo that’s less likely to get you a job
The photo below got moderate scores for all personality characteristics. Candidates who had this profile photo were less likely to receive a positive response from recruiters than candidates with the two photos above.
Profile photo number 4: A photo that will dissuade recruiters from getting in touch
The photo below is a turn-off. It ranks badly for attractiveness and for all personality traits and candidates using it were the least likely to get a positive response from recruiters.
What does this mean if you want a job in banking, where candidates are highly qualified and recruiters are often female? Firstly, you might want to wear blue in your Facebook profile photo. Secondly, you might want to smile and exude positivity. Thirdly, you probably shouldn’t engage in any kind of negative body language, including defensive gestures like crossing your arms, or shielding your face. Fourthly, don’t wear green or dark colours. And don’t sit on a park bench looking despondent…
Update your Facebook profile photo. It makes a difference. Candidates with photo number one got 39% more job interview invitations and 21% more positive reactions from recruiters than identical candidates with Facebook profile photo number four.