If a picture says a thousand words, does your LinkedIn profile picture speak volumes or is it whispering “help me!”? You know by now that it’s important to be on LinkedIn. You may have even added a picture after reluctantly not wanting to be identified. But is your picture an accurate reflection of your personal brand?
- If you’re a creator, do you look like you have your own personal style, or do you appear as a stick in the mud?
- If you’re a motivator, do you look like someone others would listen to or do you appear unapproachable?
- If you’re a leader, do you look like someone in a leadership role or do you appear to be just like everyone else?
Would you ever show up to a job interview not looking your best? Well, that’s kind of what happens when you have a blah LinkedIn profile picture. Keep in mind that your profile will often be the first impression you make with a recruiter, hiring manager, or potential networking prospect. It is your 24/7 online introduction to anyone who views your profile.
If you’re going to be on LinkedIn, you might as well come correct and put your best brand forward. It’s worth the investment to get a headshot taken by a professional photographer. A great way to find a good photographer is by doing a search on Yelp. Many photographers offer special discounts and Groupon deals, which can save you money. You can also ask colleagues who have professional photos for referrals or even a friend who dabbles in photography.
A good photographer will be able to guide you based on your personality and make sure you’re reflected in the best light (literally, there’s something about a professional camera and good lighting that kicks a picture up a notch). But if a professionally taken photo is not in the budget right now, that’s okay. You can still portray a professional personal brand with these tips.
1. Show your personality
If you’re a warm friendly person who usually smiles, smile in your picture. Sometimes people go into business mogul mode and think that looking professional means you have to put on your most serious face and show the camera who’s the boss. Great if that’s your thing, but it’s completely unnecessary if it’s not your personality (you’re welcome to those who are breathing a sigh of relief).
Often the misconception, especially for women, is that to be taken seriously you must look “serious”. But how about this thought: If you want to be taken seriously, appear likable and smart. A smile goes a long way.
2. Nix the picture with other people in it
We all have that one photo where for once your eyes are open, your hair looks great, there are no signs of lack of sleep, and you actually look like what you think you look like in your head. You think it’s perfect for your LinkedIn photo, but there’s one problem: other people are in the photo with you.
I’ve seen profile pictures that are wedding photos, pictures with the kids or Fido, and bar pictures with random strangers in the background. Nothing against spouses, kids, pets, and random folks getting their happy hour on, but they don’t belong in your profile picture. If you insist on using that picture, crop anyone else out as best as possible. If you can’t crop, that picture must get dropped.
3. Love yourself, but ditch the selfie
Under no circumstances should your LinkedIn profile picture be a selfie. Even if it’s a decent picture, it just isn’t professional. You can almost always tell you took the picture yourself (and the bathroom curtains or dirty room corner negates the good lighting.)
It’s just as easy to ask someone to take a picture of you on a day that you are going to work or at an event where you’re looking your best. Please do your personal brand a favor and keep your selfies off LinkedIn. Enough said.
4. Keep it real (and current)
Okay, I will approach this one as gently as possible. There are some people that are not being honest with themselves, and others, with their profile picture. Your picture should be the closest reflection of how you currently look. You don’t have to change your picture every time you change your hair or gain 5 pounds, but if there is a huge disparity between your LinkedIn profile picture and how you look today, you should update it.
For example, if you meet with a recruiter who found you on LinkedIn and they look completely perplexed as they glance at you and your resume, (twice), then there is a disparity.
Not being honest about how you look may cause someone to question whether there are any other exaggerations. It’s not forthcoming to use a photo from the early 2000s when you may have been at your prime. Embrace the beautiful person that you still are today and focus on having a picture that reflects you positively.