Picking The Perfect LinkedIn Profile Photo

By Chris Kolmar - Nov. 13, 2020

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LinkedIn is the optimal social networking platform for all things business-related. Whether you a looking for a new job, a new employee, or searching for ways to market your company or business better, LinkedIn is a great tool to consider.

Your LinkedIn profile is one of the first places people will look on the social network. It’s often the first impression you’re giving your profile visitors. Your photo can make or break how others view your professionalism and credibility. Depending on what picture you choose, it could help or hurt you. That’s why it’s essential to be thoughtful about this piece of your profile.

Why Is My Profile Photo Important?

Your photo is important for a variety of reasons. First and foremost, it establishes your credibility. If you view a profile without a photo, chances are you will hesitate to trust the person behind that profile. Additionally, when you create contacts on the platform and meet them in real life, they’ll know who you are if you pick the correct photo. This is especially helpful for new hires and remote employees.

When you add an optimal profile photo to your LinkedIn profile, you can receive more profile views and are more likely to receive outreach on LinkedIn messenger. Ensure your photo gives off the impression that you are professional, hard-working, and approachable by having the perfect picture.

If you’re able, consider having a headshot taken by a professional photographer. Sometimes companies will offer this to new employees or at a company-wide event to ensure all employees have a professional photo to use. Be sure that you take advantage of opportunities like this so that a skilled photographer can ensure the lighting is correct and get the best angle possible.

Finding the right balance between a photo appropriate for both a social site and a professional recruitment and outreach platform can be a difficult task to manage. Below are some tips on picking the perfect profile photo to give off the impression you desire.

10 Tips on How to Pick the Perfect Profile Photo

  1. Choose a photo that represents you. Many people might be surprised to know that it’s not uncommon for people to choose profile photos that are significantly dated, filtered, or not representative of what a person truly looks like. The picture that you choose for your LinkedIn profile should give your visitors a clear understanding of what you look like at the current moment.

    If you see someone on LinkedIn and assume their profile photo is what they look like and then meet them in person, and they look totally different, you may question their credibility. Be sure to change your profile photo to an updated version if you change your hairstyle or color, start wearing glasses, or alter your makeup. Don’t use filters or any text on your image that could distract from your face. The profile photo is small, so use it to show off what you look like.

  2. Use a high-resolution image. The image size for your LinkedIn profile photo should be 400×400 px. Although you can upload files up to 8MB, you don’t have to choose one that large. However, you should stay away from any small, low-resolution images or anything smaller than 400×400 px.

    Once you upload your photo, you will get a chance to preview it. If the image looks blurry or pixelated in any way, you may want to consider choosing a different photo or taking a different one. There are various reasons this may happen, such as if you try to take a screenshot of a photo or take a photo of an existing picture, so make sure you’re taking a fresh one instead.

    Although you can use a professional to take a headshot, there are ways to do this with whatever camera you have on hand or even in portrait mode on your smartphone.

  3. Make sure your face is front and center. A good rule of thumb to make sure your face takes up at least 60% of the frame so that people who visit your profile get an immediate look at your face. While photos with impressive backdrops or friends might seem like the right choice for other social networks, it’s not ideal on a platform like LinkedIn.

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    Choose a photo that focuses on your face, with a non-distracting or solid color background, if possible. Make sure that your photo is also cropped from your shoulders down. If you notice any blemishes or red-eye in your photo, make sure that you use light retouching to eliminate those things.

  4. Don’t include anyone else in your photo. Although it may be tempting to choose a picture from a friend or family gathering, it’s essential to select a photo that only features you. This is important for a few reasons. First, you need to make sure that the picture is focused solely on you and your face to give your profile viewers a good understanding of what you actually look like.

    Secondly, it’s important because if you include multiple people in the photo, people could mistake you for another person. It’s best to have only you in the photo, so people are sure it’s you. Finally, it’s vital that the picture isn’t crowded or too far away, which including other individuals in your photo can do.

  5. Don’t take the picture yourself. Selfies are a popular photo form, but it’s best to leave those types of photos for Facebook or Instagram. It’s best to ask someone to take a picture of you or set up a timer on a camera that can take the photo from a better angle.

    The most important reason for this is that the front-facing camera often produces a lower quality image than one you would take the traditional way. It also typically captures a mirror image that can distort your face and make things look backward.

    Additionally, when you get someone to take the photo for you, they can take different angles with different lighting. They can also make you aware of anything distracting that might be in the way. If you have a camera timer, you can alter where you place the camera to find a few different angles that might suit you.

  6. Expression matters. As mentioned above, your profile picture is likely the first impression that others on LinkedIn have of you. It’s an opportunity to promote your brand. Depending on how you want others to perceive you, you should consider your facial expression. You may want to look serious in your photo, but smiling can help make you seem more approachable and friendly.

    Smiling has a more significant impact than many might think. When you smile in a photo, you come across as more likable, competent, and influential. Consider practicing your facial expression for your photo in the mirror, especially if you are getting professional photos done. It will give you a better feel of how your photos might turn out with the facial expression you choose.

  7. Minimal is best. Similar to not including other people in your profile photo, you should also consider not including busy backgrounds in your profile photos, either. Don’t use a picture where the background distracts from your face. Again, if possible, get a professional headshot done so you can ensure the photo’s scene is optimal for your face.

    If you can get a solid background, even better. However, you don’t necessarily have to find a white backdrop for your photo to work. Brick or painted walls can work as well. If you’re interested in showcasing your interests, where you work, or your skills visually, consider doing this in your portfolio or using your LinkedIn header image to showcase a few things.

  8. Dress to impress. Dress code can be tricky to nail down, especially nowadays, where there are major discrepancies in certain industries between casual and formal. However, dressing professionally in your profile picture is really just about your personal brand. Wear something that you like, colors that suit your features, and make sure it looks professional in your photo.

    Jeans and button-down shirts are a great option, as well as suits, dresses, sweaters, and nice blouses. Aim to wear a solid color, and a color you know looks good on you in photos. If you work from home, it may be tempting to take a picture of yourself in a regular t-shirt. However, it’s advised to dress the part and put something on that not only makes you look good but feel good too.

  9. Check your lighting. Lighting is more important than you think in a photo. There’s a reason why professional photographers have so many lights and reflectors in their setup. If you stand beneath harsh lighting, the photo may pick up on imperfections you may not even see with the naked eye. It can also create shadows on your face.

    Using a camera flash is also a concern as it can make your skin shiny and waxy looking. If you take a photo in a place that is too dark, you may have extra shadows on your face, and the details of your face may not be visible at all.

    If you are lucky enough to get a sunny day outside, you can consider taking photos in a slightly shaded area or when the sun is setting to soften the light. Natural sunlight can also work inside, as long as it’s shining toward you. Don’t stand with your back to the window to avoid shadows on your face.

  10. Use filters sparingly. Filters on photos can sometimes be distracting and overwhelming. However, natural-looking filters or filters that turn your photo black and white can be used in professional settings to give your photo a different feel.

    Again, make sure to stay true to your brand and be aware of the mood your filter sets for your photo. If you feel comfortable, feel free to send your photo to friends or colleagues to get their impression before you put it up on LinkedIn.

    Additionally, if you have an outstanding photo, but it’s too dark to see, you may be able to use editing tools to adjust the brightness or contrast in your image to make it more visible.

How to Upload Your Photo onto LinkedIn

Uploading your photo to LinkedIn is simple and user friendly. Be sure to save your profile photo to your desktop before you begin the process. Additionally, check your photo for any last-minute details you may have missed before uploading it to your profile.

Photos should adhere to the LinkedIn user agreement as articulated in their photo guidelines and conditions.

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Chris Kolmar


Chris Kolmar

Chris Kolmar is a co-founder of Zippia and the editor-in-chief of the Zippia career advice blog. He has hired over 50 people in his career, been hired five times, and wants to help you land your next job. His research has been featured on the New York Times, Thrillist, VOX, The Atlantic, and a host of local news. More recently, he's been quoted on USA Today, BusinessInsider, and CNBC.

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