When you're setting up your professional profile on LinkedIn, it's very important to choose an appropriate photo. While LinkedIn is a social media site, it isn't a forum for posting fun, cutesy images or selfies. The photo you choose for your profile should be a high-quality image that focuses primarily on your face and depicts you as a competent, qualified professional.
Portray a Professional Appearance
Your LinkedIn photo should look like you on your best day at work. Think about it as if you were named to the executive team of a high-profile company. Your LinkedIn profile should be so professional that it could be published on that company's website, along with the press release announcing your promotion.
Choose the Background Wisely
The background of your photo plays a role in how professional the image looks. If you're going for a studio portrait look, stand in front of a single color wall or curtain that looks good against what you are wearing. If you'd like to show a bit of your work environment, make sure there's nothing in it that would be distracting or look odd. Avoid a shot that looks too candid, such as one where you're halfway in front of a door and halfway in front of a wall.
Avoid DIY LinkedIn Profile Pictures
You don't have to hire a professional photographer to take your LinkedIn picture. It's even fine to use a picture taken with a cell phone, as most phones take high-quality, high-resolution pictures. However, you should not go the selfie route with a photo this important. Selfies always have a telltale angle that looks a bit too casual for a professional photo.
Crop to Focus on Your Face
Your LinkedIn profile photo should show more of your face than anything else. At least 60 percent of the photo you use should highlight your face, with your shoulders also in the image. That's why professional headshots are sometimes referred to as head and shoulders shots. This is an easy way to make sure the image in your profile is focused on you rather than something in the background. It's fine if your face takes up more than 60 percent of the frame, but not less.
Dress Appropriately for Your Profession
Whatever your field, it's always safe to wear professional business attire in your LinkedIn photo, though some occupation-based adjustments are acceptable. Whatever you wear that shows in the picture should be clean, pressed, and fit properly.
A good headshot of someone wearing a dress shirt and suit jacket always sends a professional image. For men, ties are required only if they are the norm in their occupation.
Modified Professional Apparel
If you're in a field where the dress code is a bit relaxed, you can forego the jacket and opt for a conservative, professional-looking shirt or blouse on its own or with a sweater.
If you're a medical professional, you could opt for a clean scrub top or medical jacket in a color and style appropriate for your profession. If you are a doctor, nurse, or veterinarian, you could wear a stethoscope if you'd like.
If you work in another industry where a specific style of apparel is the norm, you could adapt appropriately. For example, if you are a safety professional or construction worker, you could have on a safety vest and hard hat in your image. However, do so only if the type of apparel you are wearing represents what would be the next level in your career. If you are a laborer but are looking for a management job, dress like a manager.
Smile in Your LinkedIn Photo
The expression on your face in your LinkedIn photo could be the first visual impression you make on a potential professional contact. Even for those who know you in the real world, your profile photo reinforces their professional opinion of you. In research conducted by Photofeeler, people who are smiling in their profile pictures tend to be viewed by others as more competent, likable, and influential. Smile the way you would at a job interview in your photo and you'll make a great impression.
Use a Photo That Portrays You Accurately
The photo on your LinkedIn profile needs to actually look like you. In particular, it needs to look like the professional version of you. Avoid wearing too much makeup; stick with the amount you would ordinarily wear to work. Do not use photo filters to alter your features. The picture doesn't have to be brand new, but it shouldn't be so old that it doesn't look like you anymore.
Don't Show Other People in Your Profile Photo
Your LinkedIn photo should not have anyone in it other than you. LinkedIn is not the place to post a profile picture that shows you with your children, significant other, or any other people (or pets!). If you want to depict yourself teaching a class to a packed room, you can put that image in your cover photo or post it as an item on your news feed. But don't use it as your profile image.
Properly Size Your Profile Picture
The best size for a LinkedIn profile picture is 400 pixels x 400 pixels. For the best results, crop a high-resolution image to this size, being sure (per the earlier tip) that your face is at least 60 percent of the cropped image. The site will allow you to upload files as large as eight megabytes, though you don't have to go that large. However, it is important to avoid using an image that is too low resolution. Doing so could cause your image to be fuzzy.
Complete the Rest of Your Profile
Once you have a great profile photo, you'll be ready to complete or update the rest of your LinkedIn profile. Whether you plan to use LinkedIn to find a job or simply to build your professional brand, having a great profile picture will help you accomplish your goal.