Much has been written about LinkedIn photos and the pros and cons of having one on your profile.  There are articles galore that implore the LinkedIn user to add a photo.  I’m personally way past that and will assume that everyone has gotten that message.

I’m now focused, and my suggestions here, on the quality of that photo.  I view a lot of LinkedIn profiles and well, let’s just say I am surprised at the choices some folks make.  I see many very polished profiles with well-written descriptions of accomplishments yet the photo is blurry and unprofessional.   I’m not sure why this is the case, I just want to point out why having a quality photo on your LinkedIn profile should be a high priority.

LinkedIn Heatmap

The graphic above is of a “heat map” of a Linkedin profile, created by the folks at The Ladders.  They tested the profiles in front of recruiters and the heat map tracks where their eyes went and how long they stayed on each section of the profile.  This study found that these recruiters 1) looked at the photo first and 2) spent 19% of the total time on the profile looking at the photo.

It should be obvious that your LinkedIn photo can enhance or detract from your professional persona.  In your LinkedIn profile you are trying to present a specific image.  Ask yourself, does this photo enhance or detract from that image and the value of the LinkedIn profile?  Also, review these 7 suggestions for making sure your profile pictures presents the best image possible:

  1. Easy on the selfies.    Seflies taken with your phone are a mainstay of Facebook.  Don’t assume this extends to LinkedIn photos.
  2. Don’t have more than one person in the picture.  I get a kick out of the husband & wife photos that make it to LinkedIn.  What does that say about you and your professionalism?
  3. No national landmarks.  A picture of yourself on the edge of the Grand Canyon or in Times Square is great, however the purpose of the photo is to show you, not your vacation destination. Keep the vacation shots on Facebook and Instagram.
  4. Avoid the “crop shot.”  Many folks take a picture of several people, like a wedding photo  and crop themselves out to make a headshot for LinkedIn use.  This technique seldom creates a professional-looking shot.
  5. Be aware of your background.  As you work with LinkedIn you are bound to see profiles with an otherwise perfectly acceptable photo ruined by the mess, distracting picture on the wall or television in the background.
  6. Use a picture that looks like you today.  We all know a real estate agent who has a 20-year old picture on their business card.  Don’t become that person on LinkedIn; use an up-to-date photo.
  7. Get a professional portrait if at all possible.  Yes, it is a hassle and an expense to visit a professional photographer to have a headshot taken.  Most people probably consider it “over the top.”  It’s not.  Your LinkedIn profile will be viewed in advance of every job interview or introductory meeting.  What if you are the only candidate without a professional photo?  Why take the risk?

LinkedIn is here to stay and we’ll use it in a multitude of situations.  The photo, while just one of many items on a LinkedIn profile, is likely the most important item on the page.  The photo often is the “first impression”  we all strive so hard to make well.  Take a look at your LinkedIn photo and ask yourself if it represents the first impression you’d like to have.  If not, upgrade it now!

What photos have you seen on LinkedIn that turned you off?  Is your profile photo all it can be?

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Heat map graphic taken from “Keeping an Eye on Recruiter Behavior” published by The Ladders