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 9x more connections. To me those stats make it in an easy decision.
So how do you choose a photo for Linkedin?
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 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 office 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.
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.