5 Tips for Choosing a LinkedIn Profile Photo

I have been seeing a lot of LinkedIn profile photos lately. Thousands, actually. I've been looking for candidates for Patch.com as a contract recruiter, so I have upgraded my LinkedIn account and have been running a lot of searches.

While looking at so many teeny tiny mug shots, I came across a blog post by a man named Hung Lee, who lists five things to avoid when selecting a LinkedIn profile photo. (I'm including six LinkedIn profile shots in this column that I didn't think worked well.)

Lee rightly surmises that anyone who reads his post must already have a LinkedIn profile. If you don't, I suggest you get busy. It has become increasingly apparent to me that, if you want to get found, you have to be where people are looking.

Lee's advice on what not to do when choosing a LinkedIn profile picture resonated me. Here are five things he says to avoid:

  • The non-human, cartoonish avatar (I am willing to cut you some slack on this one if you are an animator.)
  • The full-body shot where your head is the size of the the letter "o" in this sentence.
  • Special effects
  • Dramatic poses
  • Frequent changes

Lee does, by the way, recommend that you use a photo with your LinkedIn profile, saying it's incongruous not to do so. 

I have also found it, not incongruous, but weird, that some people on LinkedIn put their job title in place of their name. That is a deal breaker for me.

A good LinkedIn photo should not be a studio affair. (See numbers three and four in the list above.) They are only thumbnails, people. But they do require more attention than you can give them by holding your cell phone at arm's length and squinting. A picture with your Webcam can work.

Here are five things you need to have a professional profile photo:

  • Both eyes open
  • Good lighting, which essentially means the lighting is not behind you, making you look like a big silhouette.
  • A solid and light background
  • A shot that lets your face and maybe a little of your neck fill the frame. Crop the photo tightly and then upload it.
  • A photo of just you. (Though I did see one nice profile picture of a guy with the headstock of a guitar in front of part of his face.)

Coming Friday: Learn about hidden agendas in job interview questions.

Career questions? E-mail Joe for an answer.

  • Joe Grimm

    Joe Grimm is a visiting editor in residence at the Michigan State University School of Journalism. He runs the JobsPage Website.


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