LinkedIn Profile Photo? 5 Things NOT To Do

If you’re reading this article, the chances are you will already be on LinkedIn. Today’s tip sheet post is about a key part of the profile that all us have spent either too much or too little time thinking about – the Profile Picture. This post is about why you need to have one, and 5 basic rules on what not to do once you’ve decided to put it up. Let’s get started.

You need a profile picture

In today’s socialised and connected world, anonymity is in full retreat.
While we all care about personal privacy, it’s incongruous to opt in on
being on social networks, and yet be there not showing your face.
Humanising your account through a profile picture is the first step in
an exchange of information that you tacitly agree to by being on the
platform in the first place. And it communicates a great deal – by
simply having a profile picture, it’s telling the reader that you
actually use the platform, that you not a spammer with zombie account
and that you are serious about networking with others. You don’t need a
Hollywood smile, Terry Venables perma tan or a Donald Trump hair weave –
you just basically need to be you.

Now here are 5 things to avoid when selecting your photo.

1. A Non Human Avatar

This is not War of Warcraft. Putting a comedy/fantasy/sci-fi avatar on a professional network like LinkedIn is telling the world that you value your imaginary life more
than your professional life – its not the kind of image that will
encourage employers or recruiters to give you a call. It’s the digital
equivalent of turning up to an interview with a Bart Simpson tie on –
your attempt at comedic differentiation will succeed only too well, but
in a way you did not intend and with consequences that will not be in
your interest.

2. The Body Shot

The dimensions for the average profile picture is approx 150 x 150. In other words, they are thumbnails, designed to display a human face, not your Olympian physique. I’m sure
you look great in the ball gown or in that muscle Tee you like wearing,
but that’s not the point of this photo. It’s about your face. If you
must, I think it’s OK to have head & shoulders but any more torso
and you will reduce the resolution on your face making you difficult to
identify, whilst also raising questions as to you are selecting a shot
of your body when everyone else is going with the head shot.

3. Special Effects

You can do wonderful things with image editing software; emboss your face, X-ray your outline, put everything into sepia or reverse it all into film negative. Do none of these things
on your profile shot. It may look great – if you are in art school –
but there is a time and a place and this isn’t it. Remember the primary
reason why the photo is there in the first place – to humanise your
profile. The viewer needs to be comfortable that you are a real person,
that you use the system and that you pass the freak test. Embossing your
face in gold will probably not help you achieve any of these

4. The Over Pose

I think I’ve just invented a term. Think David Brent and you’ll know what I’m reaching for here. Profile photo’s on LinkedIn should communicate personable plus professional – wearing a
white collar and smiling at camera is all you need to do. Anything more,
any attempt to add ‘character’ or gravitas and you will be entering
dangerous territory.

5. Change It All The Time

If LinkedIn is a online shop window for your skills, it will do you no favours to be switching your image around every day. The more you use LinkedIn, the more people will identify
with your image and too much change might well have damaging effects on
the nascent online relationships that you have been developing. Clearly,
there is an ethical imperative for currency – it won’t do to have a
picture that is no longer looks like you in real life, but if you’ve got
an accurate, up-to-date shot, stick with it.

Views: 19359

Comment by Celinda Appleby on June 22, 2012 at 8:54am

Great article! I was just talking to my co-workers about this.

Comment by Mark on June 22, 2012 at 11:57am

Joshua, I have no idea why it's all of a sudden so interesting but, there ya go!

I see your point about candidate profiles. My preferred candidates are guys who have their cards punched with CCIE R&S or SP, and 5+ years in Tier 3 or 4 support.

I can see why you would want guys with more of a creative bent.

I do have to say that one of my favorite profile photos is of a candidate tearing his shirt off "Superman style" to reveal a CCIE T-Shirt underneath.

Comment by Joshua Lee on June 22, 2012 at 12:05pm

Mark - there you go! :)

Comment by Chuck Klein on August 9, 2012 at 10:49am

You forgot to mention avoiding the use of a photo with your 5 kids.  LI isn't Facebook


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