Many of us have a LinkedIn account. Many of us do not use it as often as we should. Unlike Facebook, LinkedIn is, in their own words, “A place to manage your professional identity, build and engage with your professional network, and access knowledge, insights and opportunities.”
One of the first impressions you make on LinkedIn is with your Profile photo. But what exactly does your profile photo say about you? On a professional networking site, how you present yourself could affect the opportunities that may (or may not) come your way particularly if you haven’t met in person.
A recent study conducted by TheLadders found that human resource personnel and recruiters spend 19% of their time on your online profile looking at your picture. If a picture is worth a thousand words, what does your LinkedIn profile photo say about you?
Do you look credible, professional, and confident? Or silly with a duck-faced selfie? Look at your profile photo. Would you hire you?
Barbara Pachter outlines some guidelines for professional profile photos in her book, “The Essentials of Business Etiquette.” Here are some of the basics to bring your professional profile photo up to speed.
Always use a photo.
When you don’t have a photo, it is assumed that you are not actively using your account. Not having a photo also makes recruiters suspicious. It seems strange, but consider how you feel about profiles without photos. It is worrisome. Also, since there may be multiple people with your name, having a photo allows the people who know you to make sure they are connecting to the right Tom Smith. Vivian Giang of Business Insider, “LinkedIn profiles with a photo are seven times more likely to be viewed than ones without an uploaded photo.”
Use a photo that looks like you right now.
We all want to post photos of our best selves, but sometimes, we post photos from 10 or 20 years ago. You may have changed your hair color, or maybe you no longer have hair, or maybe you have a beard now, or maybe you have gained or lost 20lbs. Your current profile photo should be a current photo of you – what you look like now. You don’t want to show up to a job interview or a networking meeting looking vastly different than your profile photo. You want to be recognized.
Only you should be in the photo.
This is a professional profile picture of you. If you post a picture with a friend or a collegue, it may not be clear which person in the photo is you. Steer clear of photos with friends, partners, children, pets, or inanimate objects. Just you. In focus.
Be sure you are wearing professional clothing, facing forward and are smiling (at least a little).
Photos of you at the beach in swimwear, drinking at the bar wearing club clothes, or participating in recreational activities in sweats and sneakers is not appropriate for a professional profile photo. Be sure your clothing is appropriate for business and work, and always have photos of you facing (and looking forward). Steer clear of photos where you are looking over to the side pondering life or photos that resemble mug shots. Be dressed professionally, look forward confidently, and use a pleasant facial expression.
Professional headshots are best.
Consider having professional headshots made. Professional photographers that specialize in headshots know just how to help you present your best self. Having a professional headshot also conveys that you are indeed the professional that you say you are. These headshots will be clean, will look like you, and will be given to you in a number of sizes and formats for you to use. You can then take this headshot and use it on your various social media sites, as your profile for your email contacts, and more. Consider using this professional headshot on your business cards too.
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