Your LinkedIn Photo Sucks: Here Are 5 Reasons Why

LinkedIn Profile SucksYoung professionals tell me they find LinkedIn intimidating, and even “corporate” …especially after they’ve posted so many casual, social photos on other social web sites. However:

There Are Good Reasons to Have a GOOD Photo on LinkedIn:

1. Employers expect a professional pic. I’ve heard recruiters say numerous times, that not having a photo when they go to look you up, could land you in the discard pile.

2. It’s your chance to show how “likeable” you are. Yes, likeability is a factor in the hiring process. And as humans we constantly assess with our eyes. It’s your chance to make a good first impression on line.

3. It’s part of your professional reputation. Your photo is sending a message to potential employers, network connections, content experts and thought leaders about you. Is your photo expressing the “it” factor you’d like it to?

If you’re making these five mistakes, take corrective action.. now!

1. Shooting From Too Far Away

LinkedIn Too Far AwayThe best way to convey your likeability and pizazz is with a close up headshot of you. Photos like these below don’t allow that opportunity.

Solution: Shoot from the shoulders up, or crop to that, once you’ve taken a headshot with a smiling, likeable face.

For women, don’t include your bust line in the LinkedIn photo. Crop to shoulders and up! Also, avoid photos where you tilt your head. It’s considered a submissive posture. Others may perceive it as flirtatious. Both diminish your professional capital.

2. Using a Photo That’s not Employer-ready

LinkedIn Employer ReadySolution: Don’t use LinkedIn photos that are more suited for Facebook. Wear professional dress, and take a close in headshot.

There’s some leeway here if it’s directly related to your business. But as a newcomer you should keep it simple and professional.

3. Using a Photo That Doesn’t Fill the Pixel Space

LinkedIn Wrong Size

Solution: Your photo should endeavor to be the max pixel size: 200 x 200 minimum and 500 x 500 maximum in order to fill the space. Otherwise your photo shows up shrunken like this. Think of it as marketing real estate. Why give any up?

You can find details on LinkedIn photo guidelines here.

4. Using the LinkedIn Default

LinkedIn Default PictureJust… don’t.

Solution: Get in the game. Take and post your own photo.

5. Using a Background That’s Too Busy, Too Dark or Not Flattering

Remember, when people search LinkedIn, they are seeing a column of results with the photos. (Try a search and see what the results look like.)

You want yours to stand out because it’s good! A background that’s too busy, too dark or not flattering looks less appealing (and less professional) than those with good color and/or contrast.

LinkedIn Too Dark

Solution: Find a wall with a lovely color that flatters your skin tone and hair color. Next time you go to Panera, check out their cool colored walls and see if that might work for you. Then snap away.

Do You Need to Spend Big Bucks on a LinkedIn Photo?

No, but that is no excuse for a less than professional image. So take a crisp, flattering photo of yourself. Here are a few tips:

  1. Make sure you have good lighting (personally, I’m not a fan of fluorescent; natural light with a flash is good)
  2. Dress professionally (for grads, stay away from “cap and gown” photos… no one hires “students”)
  3. Find a nice background that complements your skin tone and hair color.
  4. Take as many photos as you need to get one you really like.
  5. Smile!

For emulation purposes, here are some good examples:

Quality Headshot Examples

Take all the time you need. After all, first impressions (and these days, online digital impressions) matter a lot… and you can’t afford to have a LinkedIn photo that sucks!





For this post, YouTern thanks our friends at Degrees of Transition!



Lea McLeodAbout the Author: Lea McLeod helps recent grads and mid-careerists navigate the job search. And once you have a job, she’ll coach you to the brilliant performance of which you are capable! Her “Developing Patterns of Success” Workshop has been deployed to help thousands of college hires worldwide do just that. Follow her on Twitter and her blog:


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