We discuss what makes a good LinkedIn profile picture and which mistakes could affect your credibility.
The most important thing to keep in mind when selecting your LinkedIn profile photo is that LinkedIn is a professional social networking site.
As such, you want your profile picture to convey a professional image that will make a strong first impression with prospective employers.
To build your credibility, make sure that you avoid the following faux paux that could cost you your next opportunity:
1) Using a Facebook photo on LinkedIn
A photo that is appropriate for Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter may not be appropriate for LinkedIn.
You should avoid photos:
- with other people (including your family)
- on vacation
- from parties or social events
The ideal LinkedIn profile picture is a professional headshot that shows off your face from the shoulders up.
Once you upload your photo to LinkedIn, crop it so that your face fills up the majority of the space provided.
To put it into perspective, consider the following examples of suitable pictures by social media channel from Jimmy Kimmel:
As Jimmy clearly demonstrates, photos of you engaged in your favorite activity or spending time with your family belong on Facebook or Instagram - not LinkedIn.
Oprah provides another excellent example of an effective LinkedIn photo that is both professional and perfectly cropped.
2) Wearing unprofessional attire
Your LinkedIn picture is part of your personal brand, so think about the impression yours will make on prospective employers.
In your headshot, make sure you're wearing something that you would wear to a job interview.
While some industries will have more tolerance for casual attire than others, we recommend playing it safe for the purposes of your LinkedIn profile.
Stewart Butterfield, CEO of Slack, nicely pairs a blazer with an uncollared shirt for a professional yet casual effect.
3) Choosing a photo with a cluttered background
While your background doesn't necessarily have to be plain, it shouldn't be distracting.
Jeff Weiner, LinkedIn's Executive Chairman, provides a strong example of this approach. Note that his outdoor backdrop is blurred to help keep the focus on him.
4) Uploading a heavily edited or blurry photo
When you upload your photo, make sure the image does not appear grainy or blurry.
You're most likely to run into this issue if you are cropping your face out of a full-body photo or a photo with other people in it.
While you may be tempted to apply filters to help you look your best, we recommend keeping them to a minimum.
One option you can consider is using a black and white photo, which some studies show can even lead to a higher click-through rate when your profile appears in searches.
Instagram's Co-Founder Kevin Systrom uses a black and white photo that also manages to infuse a bit of personality.
Quick tip: To take a LinkedIn profile picture without a professional photographer, you can even take a photo of yourself in front of a plain background on your iPhone.
Then, use Lightroom or another editing software to make the picture black and white. A black and white filter can quickly and easily eliminate imperfections and resolve lighting issues!
5) Paying little attention to your facial expression
First impressions count - even online.
Your facial expression can speak volumes to what you are like as a person.
When building your personal brand, choose a LinkedIn profile picture that gives off a first impression conveying:
You'll likely agree that Anjali Sud, CEO of Vimeo, accomplishes just that with her profile photo.
6) Leaving your photo blank
We'll argue that your LinkedIn photo is not optional.
Given that LinkedIn is a social media platform, a photo tends to be expected.
Recruiters and potentials employers are simply more likely to ignore a profile without a photo, even if it comes up in search results.
When combined with an effective headline, the right LinkedIn profile picture can help drive more clicks to your profile.
Most importantly, you'll make a good first impression, increasing the likelihood that a positive message from a recruiter lands in your inbox.
To learn more about LinkedIn best practices, check out our LinkedIn Series here! You'll find links to a variety of brief, punchy articles that will help you get the most out of the platform.