While there are probably a million different tips out there aimed at helping people have LinkedIn profiles that stand out, I would like to take the time to give you some advice on how not to stand out. Why? Well because sometimes standing out is bad – especially when you are standing out because your LinkedIn profile looks ridiculous. In fact, your LinkedIn photo alone is enough to lose you the job before you ever even had a chance to win it.
Recruiters are pressed for time and if your profile picture is offensive or unprofessional, you can kiss your chances goodbye of landing that great job.
(Note: I want to take a moment to say that these tips are for people looking for regular office jobs. If you’re in a non-office based job - a personal trainer, tattoo artist, etc. these tips really won’t be applicable. Okay, now down to business!)
- At the gym – Sure, you want to convey that you’re healthy and active. However, this picture of you sweating in a tank top or shirtless doesn’t convey professionalism.
- In a wedding dress – You got married, which is great. However, unless you’re a wedding planner, this definitely belongs on Facebook instead of LinkedIn.
- Having something (like a beach ball) obstructing your face or using an overbearing filter– The purpose of a profile picture is to help people identify you. This is basically the equivalent of not having a picture at all. (Oh, and substituting a picture of an animal or your favorite ice cream for a picture of your head is even worse.)
- In sweats, a t-shirt or beachwear – I hate dressing up and I know I’m not alone; but unfortunately, that’s kind of a requisite for many types of jobs. If you want to be taken seriously when applying for a job, change into something a little more professional for your picture.
- Including your pet – I know you love your teacup chihuahua, but Sprinkles just distracts people from focusing on your qualifications. You want to convey an image that you are ready to get to work and do a good job (and unless you are a dog groomer, your dog probably won’t help you do that).
- Wearing a costume, superhero cape or other fantasy outfit – Just like the wedding dress picture scenario, this is best left for Facebook… unless you really are a Batman impersonator. While we’re at it, LinkedIn wasn’t around during the Renaissance, so your Ren Faire pictures shouldn’t be on there either.
- Making an offensive gesture or sticking your tongue out – You want to attract people to take a closer look at your LinkedIn profile, not repel them.
- Getting drunk/high – Do I even need to explain why this is inappropriate? Yes? Fine. You clearly have no moral or political objection with these substances, but a future employer might. Heck, a current employer might! Just… don’t do this.
If you need some tips to help you achieve a more professional profile picture, here you go:
- Use a neutral wall, nature scene, patterned background or your company’s office as your background
- Make sure you're in a well-lit area
- Remove sunglasses, hats and anything else that may obstruct your face
- Wear something appropriate for your industry – a blouse, dress, blazer, collared shirt, polo, suit jacket, etc.
- Take a headshot only
- Look at the camera to make your photo more engaging
- Smile (or at least avoid scowling)
Want a good laugh? Andrew Macarthy put together a helpful article on this topic that focuses more on the mechanics of your LinkedIn profile photo. He also included some funny real-life examples (including the image we used above).
Have questions? Connect with me on LinkedIn or send me an email and we can talk some more! Thanks!
Kate Pierce is the owner of LionShark Digital Marketing LLC, a West Michigan internet marketing company. Her areas of expertise include Paid Search, Search Engine Optimization, Social Media, Web Consulting for small businesses, Copywriting and Local Online Marketing. She lives in the Grand Rapids area with her husband and enjoys cooking, watching sports and spending time outdoors. Like a true digital marketing expert (i.e. geek), she loves talking about marketing theory and SEM trends… so don’t say you weren’t warned!