With a good application photo, an applicant can make a serious and competent impression before the first encounter with the interviewer. Though it is no longer obligatory to include a picture as part of your application package, it can help put a face behind your name. The interviewer can derive an impression through a picture and correlate your personality with the data from the rest of your application. In order for the photo to prove beneficial, however, some basic errors should be avoided.
Full body pictures
In most professions, it is not important to present your entire physique in a picture. The traditional half-portrait is sufficient.
Wear appropriate business clothes while taking your portrait. The clothing should be clean and wrinkle-free. Your clothing should also fit the job you are applying to. A conservative appearance is appropriate in most cases. However, if you work in an industry that demands creativity, then you can get away with a somewhat relaxed attire.
Too much jewelry & makeup
Strong colors, too much contrast and lush jewelry appear obtrusive in portraits; they do not make a serious impression. Make-up should be discreet and natural.
Wrong hair style
Your hair should be combed and business-like. If required, get a hair cut before taking your picture. Women with long hair should also comb their hair before taking a professional photo; open hair often does not look as competent as combed hair.
No eye contact
The eye contact in the photo is important to connect with the viewer.
Whoever smiles with closed lips runs the risk of appearing shy and closed. Depending on the occupation, a serious and determined smile is in order. However, you should not come across as feeling bored.
Poorly chosen background designs often look like a sloppy snapshot rather than a professional photo.
Size and format
Standard formats for professional photos are 6×4 and 9×6 cm. The portrait format is well suited for most scenarios. The cross-format can also be selected for other scenarios. As a rule of thumb, the profile photo should not be older than two years.
I am Mithun Sridharan, Founder & Author of Think Insights and INTRVU. I am a Global Industry Advisor at a leading cloud technology company, where I advise CxOs & Executives at global corporations on their strategic initiatives. Previously, I served on leadership and executive roles at global Management Consulting & technology firms, such as KPMG, Sapient Consulting, Oracle, and EADS. My insights on this website are based on my 1st-hand academic, managerial and leadership experiences across diverse industries and functions. Please feel free connect with me on LinkedIn.