The Do's and Don'ts for Finding the Perfect Job Seeker Profile Photo

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The perfect profile photo doesn't exi... (The White House/David Hume Kennerly)

In life, as in dating, looks aren't everything, but they are something. Recruiters and HR professionals will tell you they don't judge candidates based solely on social media and photos, but they also can't unsee certain things.

So when a recruiter or headhunter comes across your LinkedIn page, they're going to look at your profile photo and will likely make certain snap judgments. How can you make that judgment work in your favor?

Photofeeler.com uses artificial intelligence developed by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University, along with human voting, to give your photos a score based on their intended use. You can test your photos for professional purposes, social media or dating.

After uploading your photo or linking your LinkedIn profile, Photofeeler will ask for your current job title. The first evaluation, called a Karma test, is free. It just takes time. You can speed up the process by voting on others' photos. The AI will rate voters' voting patterns and determine how useful their feedback is, ensuring quality feedback for all, according to the site.

It conducted a study of 800 photos using 60,000 ratings on perceived confidence, likability and influence in its own database. The company's in-house mathematician analyzed the feedback and came up with some pretty significant do's and don'ts.

Things You Shouldn't Do in a Job Seeker Photo

Wear Sunglasses.

While this should be obvious, the fashion item that makes you look so cool in all your Facebook photos doesn't really fly for professional photos. Sunglasses can put your likability ratings in the toilet, according to Photofeeler.

On that note, other facial obstructions, such as hair and shadows, also negatively affect the perceived competency and influence of photo subjects, the site found.

Dress Casual.

Formal dress is a huge factor on perceptions of competency and influence, Photofeeler found. The darker the jacket, the better. And photo subjects paid big for missing an accessory -- namely jackets and ties.

Get too close.

Or too far. Profile photos that show only the user's face take a hit on perceived likability, while full-body photos negatively affect everything else, according to the site. The best option is a head-and-shoulders bust shot.

Overedit.

Overly saturated, overly dark or anything else that isn't a natural, professional type of photo really hurts the subject's ratings in all areas, according to Photofeeler. Save it for MySpace.

Things You Should Do in a Job Seeker Photo

Squint slightly.

This is also known as a "squinch," and it's a concept from New York-based photographer Peter Hurley, who swears it's the secret to looking more photogenic in headshots. The idea is that you may look wide-eyed, surprised, scared or any number of other perceptions when your eyes are fully opened.

Whatever you think about the squinch, remember that the eyes are the window to the soul and neurologists will tell you that, when people really smile, the muscles around their eyes contract -- that's how to spot a fake smile. The squinch is just adding authenticity to your grin and a bonus to perceptions of competency, likability and influence.

Accent your Jaw.

Hurley also advocates for accenting your jawline -- that is, to ensure the light clearly separates your chin and your neck. This also adds a bonus to all three areas measured by the study.

Smile big.

Don't just smile, give us a full grin and show those teeth. The effect of a full-tooth smile is twice that of a close-mouthed smile in terms of likability and gains an advantage in competency and influence perceptions, Photofeeler found. A closed-mouth smile gave no benefit to the two other areas.

To read Photofeeler's entire study, check it out on the site's blog.

-- Blake Stilwell can be reached at blake.stilwell@military.com. He can also be found on Twitter @blakestilwell or on Facebook.

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