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Choosing the right LinkedIn photo is no easy feat: you can't just upload your latest selfie and expect to score your dream job. The snapshot should be professional, and show prospective employers that you're the perfect person for a role without looking too staged or cheesy. Choosing an exemplary photo just got more involved: new research suggests looking at least a "little" happy in your picture will make you appear more trustworthy to prospective employers.
So what does a "little" happy mean, as opposed to just, um, regular happy?
Through a series of experiments, researchers at New York University found that people who weren't overtly smiling or laughing like hyenas in their pic, but rather adopting a positive, upward-curving expression (upturned eyebrows included) seemed like more reliable candidates. And on the other end, if you sport a down-turned expression, or look more hardened in your photo, you are more likely to be perceived as untrustworthy. Basically, don't look too happy. Or deranged. I'm not sure why anyone would post a shot of themselves frowning, (no one likes an office grump!), but now you know.
One experiment involved face perception, where participants looked at different computer-generated faces on a screen and were asked who they would choose to be their financial adviser and who they would consider to most likely win a weightlifting champion. Not surprisingly, the participants chose the happier-looking faces to handle their money, and the faces with wider, more serious expressions to lift the weights.
Some bad news: you can't really change how competent you appear in a photo, which is dependent on facial structure. That one seems unfair since LinkedIn is a very judge-a-book-by-its-cover space, but you gotta work with what you have.
Considering all of this and the stressful process of finding a job, try these sound tips when choosing the best photo for your profile: relax. Be yourself.
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