Your LinkedIn profile picture can make or break that crucial first impression.
And really, with the great photos you can take on a mobile phone nowadays, we’re dumbfounded as to why we still see terrible LinkedIn profile pictures.
To make a great first impression you really need a good quality headshot. Don’t use a selfie photo or one that includes your partner, pet or children. This is not just the first picture a potential employer will see of you, it might be the ONLY picture they see of you. So keep it professional.
Try to look confident, positive, and have a relaxed expression, not serious and stern. Be yourself. In fact, according to a study conducted by researchers at New York University, the best profile pictures are those where you appear “slightly happy”, but not too happy.
If your photo is more than a few years old, it’s probably time to get a new one. You may look fantastic, but you don’t want an employer expecting to see someone entirely different when you rock up for an interview.
In terms of what to wear, we suggest business attire or smart casual but you should adapt your style to suit your (future) job/industry. Keep it simple, classic, timeless and work-appropriate. If you’re not sure what approach to take, find people on LinkedIn already working in the industry and look at their profile pictures to determine what might be appropriate.
Here are some tips for capturing a great photo:
- Go for soft, diffused lighting. Turn off your camera’s flash and avoid direct sunlight. It can work well if you stand near a window, but not directly in front of it.
- Headshots look best with a solid-coloured background. If you don’t have one, iron a sheet or piece of fabric and hang that up behind you to set a portrait-like backdrop. Avoid black or very dark backgrounds, particularly if you’re wearing dark colours (a floating head is not a good look).
- Get someone else to take the photo for you – it’s usually obvious when a photo is self-taken (unless you’re a professional photographer!)
- Take several photos, experiment with angles and lighting to find the most flattering combination.
- A moderate amount of photo editing is acceptable, but don’t beautify yourself so much that you’re no longer recognisable. Keep it natural.
We recommend using the same image across all of your social media channels to keep your personal online brand consistent.
And by the way, the optimal image size should be between 200 x 200 and 500 x 500 pixels. Click away!