The Do’s and Don’ts of Your LinkedIn Profile Photo

profile photo

There are plenty of different kinds of profile pictures.

But when it comes to your LinkedIn profile, you only get one chance to make a good first impression.

So don’t underestimate the importance of keeping your profile photo professional.

After all, you’re on LinkedIn to present yourself as an expert in your field. And how you’re viewed can literally make or break a deal.

If you currently have a photo on your profile that you just pulled off your photostream, you need to be sure it’s not giving the wrong impression.

Read on to find out what you should and shouldn’t do when it comes to getting that perfect photo for LinkedIn.

What Does Your Profile Photo Say About You?

Actual Photo Analysis Results:

Age: 42
Ethnic: Black/ African descent
Attraction: 9.96 out of 10
Emotion: Happy
Results: Great Dating Photo


What’s Cool for Your LinkedIn Profile Photo?

These might seem pretty straightforward, but you’d be amazed how many people don’t take the following into consideration:

1. Make Yourself Look Approachable

What does your LinkedIn profile photo say about you? It should convey that you’re friendly, personable and – simply put – someone with whom it would be a pleasure to work.

At the risk of sounding like a creepy guy addressing a woman: don’t be afraid to smile. We’re not talking a model fashion shoot with over the top with dazzling pearly whites. Just a natural smile.

And forget the rigid and serious expression. Because if your photo can be likened to a mugshot, then the visual message will be that working with you is like being in prison.

Finally, dress according to your profession. In other words, what do you wear to work each day? If you’re a lawyer or in finance, then go for business professional. If you’re a designer or work in IT, then something more casual will suffice.

2. Use a Recent Photo

And by all means, keep it updated. If you put up a photo that was recent eight years ago when you first got your account, it’s time to change it.

A photo that looks outdated implies that you don’t stay current with your LinkedIn account and aren’t all that concerned with investing in your branding.

This isn’t to say that you need to be hypervigilant and constantly monitor and curate your profile photo. But an occasional update keeps things fresh. Plus, everyone in your network will be informed of the update.

3. Include a Reference to Your Career

For example, if you wear a uniform for your job, then you might want to wear that. If you work in an exciting industry, maybe your photo could be from an industry event. Or perhaps you work in a factory, so you could show yourself on the factory floor.

Not everyone has a job that will facilitate this. And it’s certainly not a requirement. But it could be an easy way to connect you with what you do and to express that you enjoy your career.

4. Keep It Simple

As far as composition goes, at least.

Forget about using Instagram tactics in an attempt to get thousands of followers. You don’t need funky camera angles or filters that give a bizarre effect.

This is your professional profile photo.

To avoid looking careless and unprofessional, it should be well-lit and straightforward. Save the Eiffel Tower in the background for Facebook.

5. Hire A Professional

You might not need to do this, but it’s a great option if you do!

If you can’t seem to get the right shot or you’re just not that photogenic, then find someone in your area who knows exactly how to capture the most professional you, like a professional photographer and even a personal branding expert. Why not make your profile stand out in more ways than one?

That Being Said, Here’s What Not to Do

Similar to the above list of things you should do, the following list of what you shouldn’t do might seem obvious. But once again, you might be surprised at just how often the following suggestions are ignored:

1. Do Not Use A Party Photo

It’s no secret that many of us lose our business persona in the evenings and/or on weekends. Recruiters and hiring managers assume as much. But you certainly don’t need to plaster proof of it all over LinkedIn.

That photo of you at the bar holding up a stein of beer isn’t gonna cut it on LinkedIn. And neither will any other photo where you might be wearing the following attire:

  • Headwear (unless relevant)
  • Tank Top
  • Eveningwear
  • Bathing Suit
  • Miniskirt
  • Ratty T-shirt

Once again, the rule of thumb is don’t wear anything that you wouldn’t normally wear to work.

2. Do Not Use Your Dating Profile Pic

If you have one, that is.

Your dating profile picture may have landed you the ideal mate, but it isn’t going to interest a recruiter or someone looking to hire you.

Remember, the look you’re going for is assertive, confident and reliable – not dreamy, windswept and romantic. Save it for eHarmony.

3. Do Not Include Family, Friends or Pets

You love your kids/besties/ferrets. That’s why you have pictures of them on your desk, your screensaver, your Facebook profile pictures and your phone.

But here’s the cold hard truth.

Unless your family, friends and/or pets have some serious connection with your brand, leave them out of your LinkedIn profile photo. They are simply not relevant.

It’s important to remember that your personal life and your professional life are two different things. You want to emphasize your professional life on LinkedIn to promote your brand.

4. Do Not Use a Photo with Someone Cropped out

In spite of how advanced photo editing software has become, it’s often easy to see when someone has been cropped out of a photo.

As tempting as it might be to use that amazing picture of you with your coworker and just cut her out of it, don’t. There are too many assumptions that can be drawn from the exclusion. And none will work for your brand.

5. Do Not Ignore LinkedIn’s Technical Specs

LinkedIn has specific technical requirements for your photo so you can’t upload any old photo. If it’s too big, they’ll reject it. If it’s too small, the resolution will leave you looking blurry.

It’s important to abide by these instructions:

  • When you upload your headshot, it should be a square.
  • Be careful not to crop too tight and cut off edges.
  • Choose the best file format – JPEG for portraits, PNG for logos and graphics.
  • Be sure your profile photo is at least 400 x 400 pixels, but no bigger than 20,000 pixels wide or tall.
  • File size cannot exceed 10 megabytes.

Do all of those, and you’ll keep the LinkedIn tech folks happy.

Get the Best Results from Your LinkedIn Profile Photo

There are going to be a lot of other candidates vying for the job you’re seeking. You want to communicate to employers that you’re taking your job search seriously.

Remember, if the above do’s and don’t’s feel like too much, it may be well worth the investment to hire a professional photographer.

If you’d like to learn more about how we can help, contact us today. And you could soon have a truly professional LinkedIn profile photo!

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2 Responses

  1. These are very helpful. I never really thought about these things about my Linkedin profile. Thanks for sharing!

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