Which photo mistakes can affect your credibility on LinkedIn and top tips for choosing yours
The most important thing to keep in mind when selecting your headshot is that LinkedIn is a professional social networking site.
As such, you want your headshot to convey a polished image that leaves a strong first impression.
You don't need to spend money on a professional photo to boost your credibility on LinkedIn.
However, 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 favourite activity or spending time with your family belong on Facebook or Instagram - not LinkedIn.
Oprah provides another excellent example of an effective LinkedIn headshot that is both professional and perfectly cropped.
2) Wearing unprofessional attire
Your LinkedIn headshot 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 headshot 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.
Quick tip: If you have a photo that you're otherwise happy with but that has a messy background, you can quickly remove the background using PhotoScissors.
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.
Need help writing your LinkedIn profile or could use some one-on-one LinkedIn coaching?
Our team of experts can help!
Book a quick introductory call or email email@example.com to learn more.
About CV Pilots
CV Pilots is an award-winning executive CV writing, career coaching and outplacement firm. Our previous clients include CEOs and senior executives at the world's leading companies.
Here's how we can help you:
CV, Cover Letter and LinkedIn Writing: After a one-hour phone consultation, one of our expert writers will prepare your top-quality personal marketing materials from scratch.
Career Transitions: A powerful combination of our document writing and career coaching services helps position you to secure a new role.
We're a proud member of the Professional Association of Resume Writers and Career Coaches. All of our writers have studied at top-tier universities and have solid industry experience.