Welcome to the College Prep Confidential Podcast
Aug. 26, 2019

CPC Episode #17 - The Most Important College Recruitment Photo You Will Ever Take

College Recruiters research your social media. To reel them in and get attention, optimize this photo on LinkedIn with tips like: Discover the most important social media photo you will ever take for college prep 3 traits college recruiters...

College Recruiters research your social media. To reel them in and get attention, optimize this photo on LinkedIn with tips like:

  • Discover the most important social media photo you will ever take for college prep
  • 3 traits college recruiters judge your LinkedIn photo on
  • Learn what the squinch is, and how it magnetically attracts more college attention
  • Wear these clothes to get more social media connections
  • Where to "field test" your social media photos to optimize your connections

Welcome back to Episode 17, of the College Prep Confidential podcast. This week, we're focusing on the most important college recruitment photo you'll ever take. This photo will help you attract the attention of college recruiters, college alumni, and college admissions officers. If you do this photo right, it will tip the balance of power on your side.

As college competition increases, the race to get noticed and get accepted has turned into an arms race. And the next step in this arms race is students planning for college as early as the 9th grade. And one way they've started doing this is via a LinkedIn profile.

Forbes had a 2013 article talking about high school students setting up a work profile, as it's easier to show your work history then craft a resume and send it to multiple people. In addition, Haverford's admission's dean takes a LinkedIn profile for a college student more serious than Facebook since it has work history and features your networking prowess. 

Since LinkedIn is your digital resume and career book to the world, it makes sense for college students to use this for college acceptance. and just like the suburbs, where one neighbor gets a pool, and then the entire neighborhood gets a pool shortly after, the push for social promotion for college recruitment has followed suit.

And with good reason...

A recent study from Kaplan Test Prep of about 400 college admissions officers reported that 40 percent said they had visited applicants’ social media pages, a fourfold increase since 2008.

Now that we've established how a LinkedIn profile helps your college search, this episode will cover one of the top 3 important features on your LinkedIn profile...your profile photo.

Psychology behind the photo

  • Recruiters and many people skip profiles with no photo. LinkedIn released a statistic about profile photos you need to read:
    • LinkedIn Profiles with profile pictures are eleven times more likely to have someone view their Profile than those lacking a picture.
  • One, people want to see what you look like. Two, the theory goes, if you are too lazy to add a photo, you are probably too lazy to engage on the platform.
  • The photo is the first thing they see, next to your headline
    • Try this experiment: imagine you walk into a restaurant to grab some food. There are two lines open. Assume each cashier has equal talent, and equal speed in handling your order.
    • At the first cash register, you see a pleasant, well-dressed cashier smiling and waiting to take your order
    • At the other cash register sits a grumpy employee with disheveled hair, a scowl, and an untucked shirt.
    • Which cashier do you go to?
    • Human nature demands you choose the more pleasant looking person. It’s embedded in your DNA. We flock to safety.
    • The same thought process goes for profile photos. We judge subconsciously.
    • And if they avoid you because of your profile photo, then they skip the rest of your profile
  • In a series of experimentsstudying judgement from facial appearances, Princeton psychologists Janine Willis and Alexander Todorov found it only takes 100 milliseconds to form an impression of someone from just looking at a photo of their face.
  • Profiles without photos speak spam because LinkedIn spammers often create profiles with no photo and little details.
  • What if you share a name with somebody else? Your photo confirms your identity.
  • A March 14, 2017 LinkedIn blog post told us that profiles with a photo get:
    • 21 times more views
    • 9 times more connection requests
    • 36 times more messages

Think about it. You spend the time to take a professional photo, upload it, and you get more views and connection requests. Your photo provides passive promotion for you! Treat your photo like a digital asset. The right photo, pays you dividends for years after you upload it. More connections, more engagement, and more business. And it all started with trust and emotion from your photo.

No silly faces - You’ve heard the old saying to joke about ugliness, “You have a face for radio.”

So how do you "field test" your photo in advance? There's an app called PhotoFeeler which gets you unbiased opinions on your photo. It uses 3 categories:

  1. Competent
  2. Likeable
  3. Influential

PhotoFeeler Tests

  • Photofeeler is a photo evaluation site. Use this to "field test" your LinkedIn photos
  • May 13, 2014 blog post, 60,000 ratings for 800 photos evaluated for competence, likeability and Influential
  • Eye obstructions like sunglasses brought down likeability by 0.36
  • Other Eye obstructions like hair, glare, and shadow decreased Competence and Influence scores by -0.29 and -0.31 respectively.
  • Slight Squint (squinch) - As a result, squinching eyes garner an average gain of +0.33 for Competence, +0.22 for Likability, and +0.37 for Influence.
  • Accentuate your jawline...Or lose weight. Â A shadow line that outlines the jaw all the way around ups ones score by +0.24 for Competence, +0.18 for Likability, and +0.18 for Influence.
    • Jawline is noted as an attractive trait by all people
    • In addition, jawline defines a face
    • Try facial exercises, such as chewing gum, which is easy to do and fun. Gum chewing builds and can reshape the masseter muscles.
    • Or, try making a fish face. Since the face and jaw contain muscles, you can sculpt them the same as you do with the rest of the body
  • Most impactful on scores...A smile with teeth visible gains an average of +0.33 for Competence, +1.35 for Likability, and +0.22 for Influence.
  • Nothing we tested paid greater gains in perceived Competence and Influence than formal dress. an average increase of +0.94 and +1.29, respectively
    • People DO judge a book by the cover. By the way, you’d be surprised what you get when you dress well. Here’s a sample of the things I get when I dress better, suit jacket, tie, or both..Doors held for you, free samples at restaurants, and I once got to jump the line at a restaurant for a reservation.
    • Dress clothes imply success, and success implies wealth. This presents an automatic authority and awe factor.
    • Plus, you get automatic confidence when you dress sharp. Even if you don’t think you do, your subconscious does. And it shines through to the surface.
    • Top CEO recruiter James Citrin advises job candidates ”especially new college graduates” to dress a little better than everyone else in the office, specifically 25% better. On The Today Show, Citrin was asked how a graduate should dress for a job interview. “A grad should do her homework and then be 25% more formal than the prevailing dress culture,” he said.
      • By the way, there's an old saying, "Dress for the job you want, not the job you have." Which means if you're a college bound student, dress up a level from college students to stand out and show your professional side. It pays dividends far into the future.
    • Dressing well communicates effort, thought, and preparation. These 3 qualities make you magnetic for connections
  • When it comes to the “amount” of person shown, we found that a bust (head and shoulders) or torso (head to waist) shot is preferable.
  • Face-only close-ups pulled Likability scores down by an average of -0.21.
  • Full body photos negatively affected both Competence and Influence by -0.29.

Some general trends from PhotoFeeler:

  • As you get older, your competence and influence scores increase. With age, comes more trust
  • By far, the easiest way to crank up your likeability score is a smile, with some teeth showing. And the smile should be real. To do this, get into a happy or humorous state immediately before taking your photo. I had my daughter doing silly faces in the background until we got a good photo. And that photo has paid dividends in the form of 13,500 LinkedIn connections at the time of this podcast recording.
  • Competence comes from a good facial expression, good clothes, and a clean photo. No glare, no black and white, and no sunglasses. To avoid silly mistakes, get a professional photo taken.
  • Influence gets the biggest score jumps from your dress code, followed by a good smile
  • I read a Medium article about a guy named Andy Rashkin who changed smiles, clothes, and cropping and rotating of the photo. Even cropping changed his influence and competence. Each time he made adjustments to his clothes, expression, or photo editing, the scores changed!

Here's a few examples I've seen personally on LinkedIn for your Profile Photo

  • Professionally taken. Spend the money.
  • When switching from a polo and a silly smile to a professional photo in a suit with a relaxed smile, I got more unsolicited invites and more connection requests. I received 5 comments from existing connections mentioning the photo. Little details go a long way. Small hinges swing big doors. I remember joking with the photographer which helped me relax before taking the photo.
  • Smile, look at the camera. No sunglasses. Avoid taking a group photo. Remember, you are the star of this movie, and there are no other actors.
  • Natural Light

Bonus Tip: LinkedIn provides a photo editing tool right on the photo upload page.

The only way to discover in advance is to test on a site like PhotoFeeler. Let the crowd and the data guide you. 

We've covered a lot in this episode. And now, on to the next steps. If you're feeling overwhelmed about LinkedIn, and how to use it to best help your college search, we can help. If you'd like a LinkedIn profile review, then you can connect with me on LinkedIn and send me a message. Search for Don Sevcik, that's S-E-V-C-I-K. I'll also put a link to my profile at cpcshow.com. That's cpcshow.com. At the bottom of the page is a link to my LinkedIn profile.

For parents of college bound students, if you'd like help with financial aid and guidance in the college prep process, then you can book a free strategy session, worth $250, by calling 800-234-2933. That's 800-234-2933. Leave your contact information with my assistant, and we'll get you setup. Be advised, these sessions are limited each week, so after hearing this podcast, make sure to book your free session.

Thanks for listening, and I'll see you next episode.