Are you happy with your LinkedIn profile photo? Do you have one? Is it professional?
I get tons of questions about LinkedIn profile pictures. Should I have a professional photographer take my headshot? What should I wear? What kind of background should I have? Should I smile? These are all questions I hear frequently.
The people I talk to are afraid to make a mistake since the profile photo is your first impression in many cases. A profile photo can mean the difference between a potential employer contacting you or not. Even so, you only need to know a few basic tips to get a great profile photo.
In order to answer these questions, I enlisted the help of my friend Mia Ulmer of Birchtree Studio in St. Louis. I wanted to show some of the
mistakes improvements you can make to your picture. LinkedIn resizes your pictures so that they are relatively small on your profile and in the activity feed. Maximizing the space you have is critical to making a good impression with your network and those who happen on your profile.
You need to know that the photo on your profile is 100 pixels wide by 100 pixels tall. If you have a 10 megapixel camera, it is capable of taking pictures that are 3,648 wide and 2736 tall. THAT’S A BIG DIFFERENCE! Even worse, your picture in your contacts’ activity feeds is only 60×60. You have to use every pixel available to you to make an impact.
Can someone recognize you when your photo is scaled down to 60×60?
One of the biggest problems I see with profile photos is that they are either too dark or the background is dark and the person blends in. Have you seen this before?
In this example, I am wearing a dark shirt and obviously have fairly dark hair. I don’t stand out from the background. I actually kinda like this picture of myself (I normally hate almost all pictures taken of me), but this isn’t an appropriate profile photo.
Here is how it would look in my contacts’ LinkedIn activity feed. Even worse, right?
Photos with Family, Friends, Business Partners, Pets
I don’t see this one as much lately, but your profile should be only you and should be professional. I have seen group photos as profile photos. These are fine for Facebook, Twitter, and Google+, but LinkedIn is a professional network and the picture should be of you.
Here is a picture of me with Mia’s dog. Not a bad picture, but not appropriate for LinkedIn.
Not a Headshot – Zoomed Out Too Far
I have seen many pictures that aren’t of the person’s face. If your whole body is your profile photo, this means we can’t see your face. If we can see more of your surroundings than we see of you, we definitely can’t see your face.
I have seen some great examples of photos that go down to the waist. If you have a professional photo that shows off your personality and shows more of your body, don’t change it on my account. On the other hand, if your profile photo is like this one, change it immediately.
No Photo At All
Now, the mistakes that I have mentioned so far are fairly prevalent. I haven’t gotten to the worst mistake though… Not having a photo at all is worse than having a bad photo. How will people that search for you confirm that they have the right person (especially if you have a common name)? How do you show off your personality? Don’t do this. Even if you break every rule I have laid down so far, get a photo if you don’t have one already.
My Profile Photo
One of the fringe benefits of this photo shoot was that I got a new profile photo in the deal. Here it is.
As I mentioned at the beginning of the post, all photos were taken by Mia Ulmer of Birchtree Studio. Please contact her if you need a new profile photo or are looking for someone to photograph your family, new baby, or wedding.