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LinkedIn Profile Pictures: Why They Are a Must-Have and How to Pick the Perfect One

Vocamotive Feb. 1, 2019

Do I Need a LinkedIn Profile Picture?

In my interactions with clients of various industries and at different career phases, I often preach about the importance of a LinkedIn profile as part of an individual’s personal and professional brand. In response, I typically get a number of questions including the ever popular “do I really need to upload a profile picture?” In relation to this question, I also hear a number of concerns including:

  • I want people to make a decision about me based on my experience, not what I look like.

  • I am afraid I will face issues with age, race, or disability discrimination.

  • I am just not happy with how I look.

I have heard all these reasons and more for why people do not want to upload a profile picture on LinkedIn. While these concerns are understandable, my answer remains the same no matter the details: yes, you must always upload your picture.
LinkedIn states on profiles with no picture that,

“Members with profile photos can receive up to 21 times more profile views than those without profile photos.”

Not only do those with photos get more profile views, LinkedIn also concludes that having a photo “makes you 14 times more likely to be found on LinkedIn.”
I could rattle off statistics all day on this topic, but the resounding message is absolutely clear. Research shows that having a profile picture is crucial to your success on LinkedIn. If you still do not believe me, check out these articles by Forbes and the Huffington Post.
Uploading a LinkedIn profile picture also has benefits outside of just making your page more successful on the platform. These include the following:

  • A photo rounds out your personal and professional brand: LinkedIn allows everyone a space to proudly display their brand. Your professional, educational, volunteer, and other related history all play a big part in that, but the core of your brand is YOU, and that includes your outward appearance.

Your photo, in combination with artfully crafted LinkedIn content, deepens the impact of your personal brand.

  • First impressions form early: Having a photo allows people to put a face to a name prior to meeting. Although this is typically at the root of people’s concerns, my response is fairly simple (and may raise some eyebrows). People will form the same basic impression of you in person that they do when they look at your picture. If a person is going to judge based on your ethnicity, disability, age, etc., do you really want to waste your time letting them make that judgement in person?

You are who you are and you look the way you look – own that, let others see that, and you will be sure to have more worthwhile interactions.

  • You are more easily recognizable following an initial meeting: Your photo gives others the peace of mind that they are sending or accepting the correct connection request after an initial meeting. I cannot tell you how many times following a job fair, networking event, industry conference, etc. that I have a pile of business cards or résumés and only a faint memory of who that person was. With LinkedIn profile photos though, I can easily recognize the person I briefly met and continue forging a connection with them. On the other hand, if someone sends me a connection request, it quickly refreshes my memory and creates a lasting impression.

How Do I Pick a LinkedIn Profile Picture?

Once you have made the decision to upload a profile picture, the focus switches to ensuring that the profile picture you choose is the best representation of you. As we established above, there is a lot riding on this one photo!
Fear not though, it can be quite easy to pick a great photo. Take a look below and you will see my top 5 photo faux pas to avoid and my top 5 tips to ensure you are making the right impression:

Top 5 Picture Issues to Avoid:

  1. Unclear, unfocused, or grainy photos

  2. Photos where other people are obviously cropped out

  3. Selfies (particularly car selfies as they seem to be very popular)

  4. Distracting backgrounds or foregrounds

  5. Photos that don’t actually look like you

Profile Pictures – Need Improvement  

Photo 1 is taken too far away so my face cannot be seen and I am appearing blurry because the photo is so zoomed in. The background and foreground of the picture are also distracting.
Photo 2 has clearly been cropped from a group photo. This photo is also too formal as I am not dressed in line with my profession.
Photo 3 is a dreaded car selfie, which is all sorts of wrong! I am also wearing sunglasses, which does not allow people a clear view of my face.

Top 5 Tips for a Great Profile Picture:

  1. SMILE – I cannot stress this tip enough. The goal of your profile picture is to make you look personable, approachable, and someone with whom others want to spark up a conversation.

  2.  Make sure your face is the focus of the photo and you are making eye contact – A good rule of thumb is for your face to take up at least 60% of the picture and to ensure the photo displays you from the shoulders up. With your face on full display, you also want to make sure your gaze is directed straight at the camera for best impact as eye contact is a major factor with first impressions.

  3. Match the energy of your photo with your current or desired role – What you are wearing, your smile, the colors of the photo, and more can all impact the “vibe” of your profile picture. Be sure to match the vibe of your photo with the objective of your LinkedIn profile.

  4. Hire a professional – Although you can get by taking your own photo, hiring a professional photographer is an investment that will net high returns as they will work their magic with regard to lighting, angles, and much more. While you are at it, have them take a few rounds of photos in different outfits so you have options!

  5. Play with cropping – When you upload your picture, be sure to try out a few different cropped options to display your photo just right.

Profile Picture Examples – Good to Go!

All 3 of the photos will contribute to a good first impression and the decision on which one to display comes down to the energy I want the photo to give off. I have had all 3 as my profile picture at one time or another depending on the impression I wanted to create at the time.

Wrap Up

Profile pictures are an essential part of any LinkedIn profile and no matter what reservations you may have, I assure you uploading a picture is the way to go.
That said, do yourself a favor and really put some thought into which photo you upload as whichever you pick will play a key role in people’s first impression of you. Follow my tips and you will be making positive impressions left and right.
If you have thoughts on profile pictures, tips on how to select an optimal photo, or even a contrasting viewpoint please comment below!

* About the Author:

Brittney Beck, NCRW, CCELW is a Senior Associate Résumé and LinkedIn Profile Writer at Vocamotive with a focus on career development strategy for her clients. She is one of less than 60 Nationally Certified Résumé Writers (NCRW’s) in the country and holds an additional certification in LinkedIn profile writing. She has an education in strategic communications, as well as considerable experience in writing, career development, and personal branding. Brittney is highly talented in assisting her clients achieve their professional goals and the materials she creates quickly result in interview opportunities. Her dedication to her craft and expert business writing abilities result in top-tier products.

Follow Brittney on LinkedIn at: www.linkedin.com/in/beckbrittney/

Contact Brittney via email at: bbeck@vocamotive.com   

Obtain professional Résumé and LinkedIn profile writing assistance by contacting Brittney directly, visiting Vocamotive’s website or by calling to schedule a free consultation.
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Last Updated on June 20, 2022 by Voca_GC