Your profile photo on LinkedIn is very important. According to LinkedIn, “members with photos receive 21 times more profile views and up to 36 times more messages.”
LinkedIn, of course, has a vested interest in encouraging us to upload photos, so I looked for an independent source. A recognized expert told me “profiles with photos attract 50% to 70% more inquiries than profiles without photos.”
Regardless of the actual number, it’s clear that adding a profile photo will improve the chance you will be found in searches. Here are some tips I’ve gathered for your LinkedIn photo:
- Do not use an old photo. There are few things worse than meeting someone for the first time and not recognizing them because their profile photo is from several years ago.
- Use a photo of you in your profile — don’t use a photo of an object. Also, don’t use an avatar or cartoon photo (like a Bitmoji).
- Your photo should include your head and shoulders, not just a close-up of your face. Experts advise your face should take up 60% to 75% of the frame. Do not use a full body photo.
- Do not include other people in your photos (and do not crop other people out of your shot — there should not be any errant body parts in your LinkedIn photo!).
- Make sure the background in the photo is not distracting. Plain backgrounds are better.
- Relax. Look directly at the camera. A smile can help you radiate warmth and approachability in your photo.
- Wear your most complementary color. Bright colors can attract attention, but muted (tan or light olive green) or jewel tones (dark green, navy, or burgundy) will draw attention to you, not your clothes. Above all, avoid patterns.
- Your photo does not need to be professionally done, but it should look like it was! If you are not using a professional camera, use a cell phone that takes high quality, high resolution photos. If the photo looks blurry when you upload it, choose a different one.
- Experiment with LinkedIn filters. When you upload your photo to LinkedIn, you can apply different filters. See which one you like best. You can also adjust brightness and contrast in the photo uploader.
- Take multiple shots and ask people their opinion on which one makes you seem most “approachable.” Consider using a website like Photofeeler.com to choose your photo.
- Do not use an inappropriate photo. (If you have to ask if it is inappropriate, do not use it.
- Tips for Men: Wear a dark blue or black dress shirt. No t-shirts. No busy or crazy patterns.
- Tips for Women: Wear something you feel comfortable in. No t-shirts. No big or busy patterns. Soft, dark V-necks look great. Long sleeves are best so you are not drawing attention to your bare arms — instead, you want them to notice your face. (Bare arms also appear “bigger.”)
The biggest decision for some job seekers is whether to get professional headshots or take their own photos. Smartphone cameras are quite good now, so the do-it-yourself option should work for the vast majority of job seekers. Selfies do not look good, though—have someone else hold the camera.
Of course, if you work in the visual arts, performing arts, or advertising you are expected to be an expert at getting great headshots. You may want to invest in professional headshots if you do not have them already. I went the professional route because my business is creating great profiles. The photographer I went to had an inexpensive “social media” package that was about half of the price his performing arts clients pay.
Keep the photo off your resume.
A question some job seekers ask when I suggest adding a photo to their LinkedIn profile is whether to add a photo onto their resume, too. Traditionally, we do not include photos on resumes we send to US employers because employers in the United States want to avoid an appearance of bias based on age, race, gender, ethnic group, or other personal factors. Resumes, unlike LinkedIn profiles, become part of personnel files. LinkedIn profiles are essentially public. In short, LinkedIn is a social media site so we should use it as such although it has become part of the formal recruiting process.
LinkedIn “photo ops” are not limited to the headshot.
Your LinkedIn page has other places where you can include photos and images. Many job seekers do not seem to realize they can upload a “background image” to display. Use this opportunity to upload something that represents your brand. A professional bicycle racer, for example, used this image.
The background image on my own profile is one of my certification badges. You can also use a website such as Canva to superimpose a tag line onto your background image. LinkedIn’s search engine will not recognize a tag line that is part of an image, but recruiters will see it when they open your profile.
Additionally, you can upload images to many of the narrative sections on your profile. Per my previous posts, I recommend uploading portfolio material, such as examples of brochure designs that you would ordinarily carry to interviews.
The important thing is that the images you upload reinforce your personal brand. You are the brand, so from a social media point of view, your headshot is important. Another part of your brand is the unique value and service you offer to employers and their customers, so this can be represented in your background image.
Get a headshot and background image for your LinkedIn page. We can help you with the narrative. Just set up a call with us to talk!
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