10 Things Employers Want to See in Your Online Profile Images

online profile imagesWant to hear about one of the job search secrets hardly anyone talks about? Want to learn a proven way to make a great first impression? Hint: it has a great deal do with the your social media presence… and maybe the use of boring online profile images.

That’s right: your online profile images on social media can make a great first impression, or underwhelm the very person you’re trying to impress. In fact, the headers and profile pics you choose sets the tone for every recruiter who checks you out online. So the more attention you pay to your online profile images, the better chance you have to impress!

So let’s give your profile pics on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook a make-over!

What Do You Want To Convey?

What message do you want people who find your profile to remember about you? The answer IS NOT that you are available for work. That’s not how this works. Your availability is only important to you. If you have all the right stuff, a recruiter won’t care if you are working or not.

You want to convey your personal brand, in other words, what’s different about you and the value you bring to an organization. What are the problems you are good at fixing, who benefits and how you do it uniquely? Always focus your message with the reader/viewer in mind. Think about what is important to your future employer or people who stumble across your profile. And what online profile images will help make you memorable?

Defining your personal brand isn’t easy, but well-worth the effort.

Ideas for Cover Images

  • Your favorite quote. You can use your own quote or someone else’s.  But if you do use a quote by someone else, provide attribution (credit).
  • A photo of you doing your job.
  • A collage of photos and images of you at work (and play perhaps).
  • An image that represents your field of expertise.
  • Sample of work or current projects you are working on
  • Your work environment
  • An upcoming event you are part of
  • Summary of your skills and experience
  • CTA (call to action).  Let’s connect, follow me on other social platforms, see my work, see my online portfolio, etc.
  • Highlight a testimonial

Find Photos

You may have screen shots or your own photos to pick from. But in case you don’t, you can find royalty free, attribution free images and photos. (This means you can use and edit the photo without providing credit). You want to use these types of images instead of the ones you find online because using someone else’s photo without giving them credit is not a good idea.

Personally, I’ve had great luck using Pixabay to find royalty free, attribution free images. No sign up or fees involved if you choose from their curated images. However, don’t get suckered into using the “sponsored” ones from companies like Shutterstock.

  • Finding the right image may require you try searching by different terms. A single word works best.
  • Horizontal images will work best.
  • You could also try and filter results by “Category” or just browse by category to get ideas.

Play around with Pixabay. If you still can’t find images you like, you can try some of the 17 sites suggested by HubSpot in this post.

Getting the Size of Cover Images Right

Each social platform has a different size requirement for cover images/photos. Here are the dimensions in 2016.

  • LinkedIn:  1400 x 425
  • Facebook: 851 x 315
  • Twitter:  1500 x 500

If you are not familiar with what all these numbers mean, here’s an easy work around.

Use Canva To Create Your Cover Image:

  1. First, create a free account on Canva
  2. Then, click on the green “create a design” button
  3. Search for the template you want to create (Facebook cover, Twitter cover)
    • For LinkedIn, you will need to select “custom dimension” and insert the dimensions (1400 x 425)
  4. Next, upload your images and fit to the full screen
  5. Then add text (if desired). Just note, you don’t want to put anything close to any of the edges as they may get cut off.
  6. Download to your computer as a .jpg file and name it “first name last name cover [Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn]”.jpg
  7. Finally, your design will be saved on Canva and you can see them by clicking on “all your designs” on the left side of the screen. This makes it easy to go back and edit if you make a mistake.


Many people don’t know what to do with their cover image on LinkedIn. And even when they do, they have difficulty getting it to appear just right. Use work-appropriate messaging, but don’t be afraid to inject some personality.

The city you work in can be a powerful image because people from that area will recognize it. However, if you plan on moving or are not “tied” to your city, this wouldn’t be a good image to use. Also, a collage of photos of you in the news (or presenting) helps build credibility.


The cover image you choose to use on Twitter can help the viewer learn more about you. A quote is another way to create a unique brand. Hence, a combination of words and an image helps display your expertise and cement your personal brand.

Your tagline or  branding statement let’s the viewer know exactly what you do (beyond what you are able to write in your bio on Twitter). Adding media appearances or logos of past employers is also a good way to establish credibility.


Don’t overlook personal branding opportunities on Facebook, especially if you are actively job hunting. You could use the same image from LinkedIn so your friends can see it or you can choose an image that represents who you are or something important to you like a hobby, professional interest, or life event.

You can change your online profile images as often as you want. So go ahead, experiment!

See what works best. Then let your make-over go to work making that great first impression.


For this post, YouTern thanks our friends at Career Sherpa.


career sherpa


Hannah Morgan hiring prosAbout the Author: Hannah Morgan is a career sherpa, guiding new job seekers through the treacherous terrain of job search. If you are looking for no-nonsense advice, check out her site Career Sherpa. And follow Hannah on Twitter for the latest job search news and trends!



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