Your LinkedIn profile photo is your first chance to make a good online impression with recruiters, hiring managers and other professionals, and according to LinkedIn data your profile is 7 times more likely to be viewed if you have one.
A picture says a thousand words
While I was doing research for this blog I got sucked into LinkedIn’s “People You May Know” vortex and was perusing profile photos for hours (don’t tell my boss.) I was surprised (well…kinda) to see the wide range of photos people are using as their professional branding pic. Some people have professionally taken photos and others have photos that are well…not professionally taken. The most egregious photo I came across was someone who was holding a beer – they didn’t work for a brewery. Seriously?
A professional headshot can cost anywhere from $50 – $200. If you have the cha-ching to have a professional headshot taken, do it. If not, here are eleven tips to perfect a DIY profile photo. For your amusement I included examples of LinkedIn profile photo don’ts – real photos from my Instagram account.
1. Put your best FACE forward
LinkedIn’s maximum profile photo size (500 x 500 pixels) is too small for others to see what you look like if you use a full body image. Best practice would be to crop the photo so that your face takes up about 60% of the frame.
2. Do a background check
Is there a plant or a lamp sticking out the top of your head? Are you at a ball game and there is a Budweiser sign in the background? Are you being photobombed? The background should not distract from the focal point – you!
3. Be at your professional best
During my blog research I saw hundreds of profiles of people skiing, fishing, hunting, riding a motorcycle etc. My first impression of these folks was that they were more passionate about their hobbies than their roles. Your profile photo should show you at your professional – not personal – best.
4. The rule of thumb is the rule of thirds
Your photo style should reflect your industry. If you’re in finance and accounting it’s not a good idea to use an illustration or get creative with cropping (like in the example to the left).
The rule of thirds is one of the main rules in photographic composition. The basic principal is you imagine breaking down the photo into third both vertically and horizontally and aligning the most important parts of your image along those lines. In the photo of Jon to the right you can see I’ve aligned his left eye and smile along these imaginary lines making the composition a bit more interesting.
5. Are you a travel agent?
No? Then don’t use a vacation photo. This goes back to #3. Wearing a hat, sunglasses or snorkel on your head is not you at your professional best.
6. Don’t express your #selfie
Don’t use a selfie. You’ll be taken as seriously as Kim Kardashian.
7. Don’t date yourself
You might look great in your senior photo (that’s mine from 1999!), but that was years (maybe even decades) ago. Profile photos have a 3-5 year shelf life. Your photo should look like you today.
8. Just say no
Just say no to bad photography. The photo should not be blurry, grainy, pixelated or have bad coloring. You get the idea. Also, make sure you get rid of red eye.
9. Keep it real
Don’t use a wedding photo, a glamour shot or photos from any event where you are dressed to the nines. The photo should reflect how you look on a daily basis when you are at work.
10. Dress for success
We’ve all heard the saying “Dress for the role you want, not the role you have.” This is a really good rule of thumb when you are considering what to wear in your LinkedIn profile photo. In my photo on the left I’m smiling and I look friendly and all but I’m wearing a strapless top. Too much exposed skin is obviously not a good choice for a professional headshot.
Men: Button up shirt, tie and suit coat or a blazer. For the jacket and shirt, keep the colors neutral and stay away from patterns but feel free to be a little creative with the tie. That doesn’t mean wear a Superman tie – maybe just a green tie.
Women: A button up shirt and suit coat is always a good choice but if you don’t have one be sure to avoid blouses with big prints or patterns. Use the KISS principle when choosing your jewelry. Be stylish and fashionable but remember it’s a photo of your face, not your outfit.
11. It’s all about you
Don’t crop someone out and don’t use a photo with other people (like your family, friend or cat). This might be my biggest pet peeve of all. The photo should be of you, by yourself.
Want to know what your photo says about you?
PhotoFeeler is a free photo testing tool that allows you to upload photos to see how you are perceived in three different categories: competentency, likablility and influence. Below is an example of what the results look like. Check it out for yourself here: https://www.photofeeler.com/
What are your LinkedIn profile photo pet peeves? Tweet us at @OggiPro with the hashtag #OggiAsks.