Have you ever asked yourself, “Does LinkedIn profile picture discrimination exist?” or “Will putting my picture on my LinkedIn profile make recruiters and hiring managers discriminate against me?”
According to research published by Prasanna Prasurama of New York University’s Stern School of Business and 3 colleagues:
1. Women are 9% to 10% more likely to get calls, interviews, and offers than men.
2. Black, Hispanic, and Asian applicants are 8% to 13% less likely to get calls, interviews, and offers than White applicants.
However, putting your picture on your LinkedIn profile can also make it more likely that members, including recruiters and hiring managers, will engage with you.
Arguments for a Photo
I think of LinkedIn like it’s the hallway outside an industry conference keynote speech. You wouldn’t mingle with the other attendees wearing a mask. Thus, in general, you shouldn’t show up on LinkedIn hiding your face.
In addition, your photo displays on profiles where you write recommendations and endorse skills. Those affirmations carry more weight when you show your face than if you don’t.
The Potential for Discrimination
Sadly, many people worry that using their photo will cause recruiters and hiring managers to discriminate against them.
Their concern might be MSUing (making stuff up), or it might be smart.
People who discriminate do just that, they discriminate. If they don’t like your gender, age, weight, race, etc., a profile photo will certainly help them figure it out quickly.
What to Consider
The calculus here is, if they met you in person, versus in an online photo, would you be able to overcome their prejudice?
The question is important. When discrimination happens, it affects our ability to earn a living.
For all the benefits LinkedIn offers, this is a real concern for many people.
I originally shared this post in 2013 with a strong bias for including a photo. I’m reissuing it because I have additional information to share:
1. You will see comments (below) where people clearly encountered discrimination with a photo and got better results without a photo.
2. The successful candidates in my last two C-suite searches didn’t have photos on their profiles. I didn’t care.
3. I often get people in my page 1 search results who don’t have photos. My eye isn’t drawn to them as quickly, but LinkedIn doesn’t appear to be penalizing them in search results.
I still think it’s usually better to show your face than not, but it’s a career myth that you always need a photo on your LinkedIn profile.
What you always need is good judgment about whether or not to use a photo — and maybe a change or “with/without” testing as described in the comments below.
Let’s Connect on LinkedIn
Please don’t hesitate to invite me to connect on LinkedIn here: Donna Svei, Executive Resume Writer.
The more I know about my readers, the better I can make my blog.
Updated March 2021
© 2014 – 2021, Donna Svei. All rights reserved.
Donna Svei, an executive resume writer and former C-level executive, retained search consultant, and CPA, authors all of AvidCareerist’s posts. She has written for and been quoted by 100+ business and general media outlets, including Forbes, Mashable, Fast Company, Inc., Entrepreneur, the New York Times, USA Today, Time, CBS, the BBC, Lifehacker, Social Media Today, IT World, SmartBrief, and Business News Daily.
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