7 LinkedIn Profile Photo Tips
Your LinkedIn profile photo matters. It can determine if you appear likeable, competent, and influential. Try and get an interview, new client or speaking engagement if any of those three things are missing.
A profile photo can also determine if people think you are approachable, helpful, and attractive. *Cough*Dating Sites*Cough.
We make these judgements about photos quickly. In 40 milliseconds, we’re able to draw conclusions about people based on a photo.
There is a fantastic article on all the aspects of a good profile photo, according to research and science, check it out here.
Your Personality Comes Second
At this point, let’s talk about your personality. Just kidding. I’m sorry to tell you this, but your face matters.
When was the last time you went for a job interview with a bag over your head? How about a date?
Your personality is your face too. Your presence, confidence, charisma, authority, expertise and everything that makes you you, gets conveyed through you face.
Yes, also from your writing (but only 10% on OKCupid), your achievements, spoken words and more. But we exist IRL, and that needs to be represented as something. Your face is the shortcut to that.
Seven Tips For Good LinkedIn Profile Photos
1. You need one!
I just covered why above, but don’t join LinkedIn or OKCupid and not upload a photo of yourself.
2. Just your face please.
There is never a reason to have any other face in your professional or dating profile photo. Never. Ever. Likewise non-faces. No pets, logos, hobby items or anything that isn’t your face.
Specifically for dating sites, pet photos are gold, but make that photo number two, not your profile photo.
3. Head and shoulders.
I’m happy that you have a boat, and you want to show potential [INSERT AUDIENCE HERE] how cool you are. Just stop already.
Profile photos are about people being able to see your face. To recognise you when you rock up to the small bar wearing a carnation (no? Just me?)… or walk into the interview room.
4. Don’t hide your eyes.
Windows to the soul or not, eyes are important. No sunglasses, or other coverings.
5. Smile. With teeth.
You. Must. Smile. Do it. And do it with teeth. Again, go back to the research on this one.
And no ‘laughing smiles’ either.
One caveat is a cultural one. Smiling in professional photos can, in some cultures, be inappropriate. If you’re reading this, then it’s highly likely that the no-smiling rule doesn’t apply to you because you’re in Australia.
6. It’s really a ‘job interview’ photo or ‘first date’ photo
Here’s my rule about the clothes, skin, style you put in your profile photo: The photo should reflect your first day at work or your first date. Depending.
Too many of these lists say ‘suit and tie for men’ or somesuch. This is rubbish.
How many graphic designers do you know who wear a suit and tie? Moreover, the people who hire them don’t want to see that.
With showing skin, apply the same rule.
Whether you’re looking for a date or a job, think about the first date/day one and wear that in your photo, and you’ll be fine.
7. Technical stuff.
The main type of photo you’ll need is square. And sometimes a circular one, but start with square.
Use the latest smartphone and you’ll be ok. Too many times on LinkedIn I see this tiny square photo that is way too small for the allowed space.
If you get your friend to take the photo with their phone, have them email you the photo, but make sure they select the maximum size photo when they send it (iOS lets you select before sending a large file).
Face the light. If you are standing near an office window, or outside in the park, have the person with a camera stand between you and the window/sun. Then make sure they aren’t creating a shadow, and you’re good to go.
Like this: Light source then the camera then you.
8. You’re not done.
There’s quite a bit more, including the rule of thirds, the squinch, down the barrel or not. But these seven tips will make a huge difference. And always remember, this isn’t the 1980s, everything is digital and essentially free. Don’t worry about the 99 bad photos you get taken, use that one good one.
Don’t do these things
If you’ve followed the above, not only are you awesome, but you’ll have a good photo for whatever purpose you need it for. But maybe you don’t like positive; you like negative. Fine.
Here’s a bad profile photo list of actual photos I have seen on LinkedIn:
- Holding alcohol: In a professional photo? Really?
- Too small: If your attitude to this photo is ‘good enough’ why would I hire someone with that kind of attitude?
- Dark: Light equals positive, dark equals negative. Don’t be negative.
- Mug shot/no smile: Did your puppy just die? Why take this photo?
- Who is the profile photo of?: You have friends, I’m happy for you. But which idiot in this photo is you. Can I be sure that the competent looking person is you and not that numbskull next to you?
- Selfie: Yes, this post has been borderline narcissistic, but take the 2 minutes and get your photo done properly
- In a toilet cubicle: True story. I wish I could share the photo for proof, but that seems mean.
- Company logo: Repeat after me, ‘I am not my job.’
- Bad hair, bad skin, scruffy, tired: You get to pick this photo. There aren’t paparazzi hiding out in the bushes to get that humiliating LinkedIn photo. Why would you upload this one?
- Blurry: Focus isn’t rocket science.
- Badly etched: This is the extreme version of the corporate photo, but it happens a lot. Essentially the professional photographer your company hired is crap. Sorry.
Turns out ‘toilet selfie’ is a thing. And, behold, the thing.