7 Tips for choosing your Linkedin photo

Linkedin is a Social Media site with a business focus. Unlike Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and other Social Media sites, this site focuses on business networking, which is why, more so than other social sites, it’s important to get your Linkedin Profile picture right. 

Linkedin itself, states that photos which are of a higher quality receive up to 21x more profile views and are 9x more connections. To me those stats make it in an easy decision. 

So how do you choose a photo for Linkedin? 

old headshots.jpg

Make sure it is up-to-date

It might still look great but if it doesn’t look like you currently don’t use it.

It’s incredibly common for people to keep using the same photo for years if not decades, but those people also find that they are met with confusion at interviews and/or client meetings when they aren’t recognised straight away. 


Your face should occupy >60% of the photo

You have the perfect photo but you have cropped it and/or displayed it in a way that when your profile is viewed you struggle to make out your face.

It’s an easy thing to do, but bear in mind it makes it hard for people to see who you are. Perhaps it’s purposeful due to security concerns, but if not try to crop it in a way that showcases your face the most. People will be able to recognise it’s you Sam smith that they know from London, and not Sam Smith from Hull. 

To smile or not to smile (that is the question)

Knowing what facial expression to do can be hard, but these questions might help you narrow it down:

If you work with clients what clients do you have? Are they more serious than most or are they relaxed? If you have meetings in t-shirts a casual photo with a nice smile might be the best option. If you all wear sharp suits and ties perhaps less of a smile and more of a serious expression. 

Does the company you work for have guidelines? Some companies can be stricter than others, but usually there are some rough guidelines in place for company based headshots. It doesn’t mean you have to use company headshots for Linkedin, but it might give you a good idea of what branding style to portray if you want to align with your company. 

What are you comfortable with? You might wear sharp suits but if you naturally smile a lot it might be nice to bring that into your photo as long as you’re happy with it. 

If in doubt of all of the above, I suggest a “half-smile” like the above picture. It seems strange to achieve perhaps, but it gives a nice balance between casual and formal. 

Keep an eye out for reflections

If you wear glasses it’s likely in quite a few photos, especially those taken with flash, that you have reflections in your glasses. Usually not large, but in some cases can completely detract from an image no matter how good the rest of it is. No pun intended but keep an eye out for these, it’s a shame to spend time setting getting a good photo only to have this small thing go wrong. 

To avoid such reflections/glare, think of where you the subject are facing, and if lights are involved think of the angle of the light vs. the angle of your face. Usually with a little bit of moving and perhaps placement of a white card in the foreground of where you are looking can solve the issue. 


Keep it simple

The backdrops of photos and how focused they are can make a world of difference. Photos with simpler backdrops or out of focus backdrops allow the user to focus purely on you rather than perhaps the guy sitting behind you in your office. 

To keep things clean either try to use a plain wall  for a backdrop, or if you want the slight offic

e backdrop make sure you or your photographer uses a camera which will allow you to create a shallow focus (<f4.5). 

No group shots

Don’t use a cropped group shot for Linkedin. Using a cropped group photo usually ends up with awkward spare legs and a cut off arm as you crop out the drink in your hand. It might work for you on the likes of facebook, but when looking for a job it can look unprofessional because it’s easy to fix. 


No selfies

Similar to the above scenario, using selfies for a Linkedin picture looks unprofessional and is better placed for instagram. You might look great but recruiters dislike it enough that it could stop you from getting interviews. 

Getting a headshot without a professional photographer, or a spare friend is easy enough to do with a plain wall and a self timed iphone thats balanced either on a stand or supported by an object. 

To CV Photo or To Not CV Photo

I am frequently asked whether or not a person should include a photo on their CV, it seems like a simple question but in reality it provides a lot of anxiety for some people. We always stand by the opinion that you should simply ask yourself: “What do I think?” because after all it is your CV, however, we know that life isn’t that simple and even the most confident of people still question themselves a little, so we did a bit of research for you.

It is Illegal To Discriminate But We Do Live In A Multi-Media Age

In the UK it is illegal to discriminate against a person because of their age, gender, marital status, whether they are pregnant or on maternity leave, disabled, their race, their religion, their sex, or their sexual orientation, as a result of this, many companies, for legal justification, prefer that you don’t include a photo on your CV. In some cases, usually financed based companies, a CV photo is a firm no. This is understandable, but in reality it is likely they will see a photo of you elsewhere.
In today’s multi-media age it can be important for companies to know what your social media accounts look like, especially if they are public, as such it is pretty likely that prior to hiring you, a company would have searched for you across various platforms as a means of assurance. Unless you are a private person and/or don’t use Social Media it is likely then that a photo of you will appear on a companies radar.

In Some Countries A CV Photo Is The Norm

According to MoveHub.com’s 2017 Global Moving Trend Report 60% of 18-35 year olds enquired about moving abroad, citing reasons such as better salaries and new cultures as the reason. With this is mind it’s worth mentioning that in some countries CV photo’s are expected. It seems to be both Mid to Eastern Asia and Eastern Europe where a CV photo is quite normal, especially for customer-facing service jobs. So if you are considering a move it might be worth investigating.

Who Are You Applying To

Not only do companies have different CV requirements, but you might also want to consider the following study: Two economists from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, found the following response results after sending out 5,312 CV’s in pairs to 2,656 jobs, including no CV photos and CV photos of what they deemed attractive & plain people:



Attractive females received fewer job responses than attractive males, why is this? The team did a subsequent follow-up study and found that 96% of people receiving the CV’s were female, the average age was 29 years old, and 67% of them were single. To the team at Ben-Gurion this suggested that women were being biased towards other women.
It’s worth baring in mind that this is one study, and based in Israel, but for some, perhaps if you are in a notoriously competitive industry, this bias might be something to consider.

Our Thoughts

Be smart. Unconscious bias will always be a factor, even the most aware fall prey to it unknowingly, but laws and specific company requirements do change, so know who you are applying to, where they are and what message you specifically want to send across. And if you need a headshot, you know who to call.

Good luck!