How To Choose The Right LinkedIn Profile Picture

Despite being a business networking tool, LinkedIn is still considered social media. The “social” in social media is why it’s essential to have a photo.

While some people feel that including a profile photo might open them up to discrimination, there is no way to hide from a potential employer. Sadly, discrimination does exist. However, you can’t prevent an employer from thinking you are too old or too young or too whatever.

The key is to have a recruiter- and employer-ready photo that shows you at your best, business self.

Add Photo Do’s

While a photo taken by a professional is nice to have, it’s not critical. A clean head shot, wearing appropriate attire, and preferably smiling is all that you need.

While you may think that employers will respond to a serious look, studies show that likable people are more apt to be hired and promoted.

In fact, a study from Harvard Business School found that being viewed at competent but not friendly can hurt your chance of landing a job according to an post by Photofeeler.

Don’t forget to add a “background photo” to your profile as well. Leaving this area blank makes you appear that you’re not LinkedIn savvy.

Avoid Photo Don’ts

Given the fact that LinkedIn is primarily used for business, it’s surprising the number of inappropriate profile photos found there.

Unsuitable photos include: group shots, couple shots, family shots, or solo shots where you were cut out of the picture.

Always opt for appropriate business attire.

While recruiting, I was stunned to stumble across a LinkedIn profile where the woman was wearing a wedding dress, including the veil. Although, she had some relevant qualifications, her choice of attire took her out of the running.

Avoid photos where your attire is too casual, like shorts or a bathing suit, or too formal , like an evening gown or a tux.

Get Objective Insights

Most people ask their friends and family about their LinkedIn photo. Unfortunately, that won’t give you objective insights. While a coach may provide more objectivity it’s only one person’s opinion.

A quick, and inexpensive, solution is to submit your photo to Photofeeler. Depending on the size of the sample you request, you can have your photo rated in terms of being Competent (Smart, Capable), Likable (Friendly, Kind), and Influential (Industry-Leading, Respected, Quoted) *.

According to a study done by Photofeeler, the photos that scored highest on these traits had a few things in common. Here are three mentioned in the study:

  • Unobstructed eyes. Eyes blocked by sunglasses, hair, glare, or shadows will bring your score on Competency and Influence.
  • A smile with visible teeth scores well on Likability. However, a laughing smile brings down your ratings on Competency and Influence.
  • Business attire was the most important factor in garnering high scores in Competence and Influence. You may not like it, but you need to dress the part.

Although you may not want to be judged on your appearance, the truth is that we all are. While you may think that leaving a photo off of your profile will protect you from discrimination, the truth is it makes people wonder why.

While LinkedIn is primarily used for business, it’s still regarded as social media. That means people reviewing your profile expect to see a photo. By following a few suggestions, you can easily choose a photo that conveys your best, business self.

*More recently, Photofeeler added the ability to rate your photo for other purposes, like dating sites. If you choose the “dating” option your photo is rated on Smart, Trustworthy and Attractive.