I have now conducted 32 in-depth reviews of people’s LinkedIn profiles and one of the most common things I tell people is “Consider getting a new photo.”
Some people have privacy considerations and choose not to post a picture to LinkedIn. If you do have confidentiality concerns, I respect your choice.
However, there are reasons to include a photo in your LinkedIn profile. It builds trust and credibility and makes you a real person rather than simply an electronic profile. And it’s the first thing people notice.
If you do choose to post a photo on LinkedIn, the first question to ask yourself is: What image do I want to project?
Most of us will answer this question, “A professional image, of course!” Remember, this is LinkedIn. It’s not Facebook for your friends or a dating website for your cute and sexy look.
Yet here’s what I found in many business people’s pictures (and I may be talking to you):
- Cars, computers, and random objects in the background (these draw attention away from you)
- Dark backgrounds that make it hard to see your face
- Other people: girlfriends, kids, and drinking buddies (are you planning to bring them to your interview?)
- Dogs (are you planning to bring them to your interview?)
- Obvious cropping, creating an amateur look (maybe okay for Facebook, but not for LinkedIn)
- Long shots where we can?t see the person’s face (what’s the point?)
If you were an employer or a client, what would your reaction be to these photos?
To avoid these common blunders, I recommend to most people that they get a professionally done head shot in front of a plain light colored background. That’s the kind of photo that builds business credibility. (If you don’t want to go to a studio, a white house will do the trick as a background… all you need is a friend with a portrait lens.)
There are exceptions to every rule. Perhaps if you are in real estate, you want your picture to be taken in front of a house you sold — or you might just want your company logo in the corner of the photo. If you are in the travel industry, perhaps you want an exotic background. As a general rule, however, if it’s not relevant to your work, don’t include it in the photo! And make sure we can see your face.
Ask yourself: What image do I want to project? Then create a match for that image in your LinkedIn photo.
Remember, a lot of people are looking.
Click here for your $95 in-depth LinkedIn Profile Review.