My dear readers, we need to talk about LinkedIn profile pictures, and more specifically what a recruiter does not (!) want or need to see in your chosen photo. First, a quick review. LinkedIn is a personal networking social media site for the purposes of professional networking. Please make a note before we move on, LinkedIn and Facebook are different social media outlets that have different purposes. While many businesses or individuals gain professional benefits from Facebook, that is not its underlying purpose; whereas LinkedIn’s entire existence is for professional networking and advancement.
Therefore, there are several kinds of photos that shouldn’t be used as your LinkedIn profile picture. I have seen many offenders of these guidelines below and instead of publically calling out users with links, you’ll just have to trust me. They include:
- Baby pictures of your kids – I’m not hiring your child; in fact, that’s illegal.
- Wedding pictures – Yes, you looked beautiful on your special day, but I don’t really need to see the cleavage shot or the “candid” photo of you smearing on lipstick in the mirror. Being married or single has no bearing on your professional capabilities.
- Glamour shots from the ‘80s – Anything with tinsel should be eliminated. This doesn’t make you look professional; it makes you look outdated.
- Anything where you’re trying to be sexy – No explanation should be necessary here.
- Cartoons or Clip Art – Do you want what could be the first impression you give to your next employer to be a joke?
Use a profile picture even if you don’t want to. According to Forbes, a recruiter is seven times more likely to view your profile if you have a photo. Also, the more complete your profile, the higher it will appear in a recruiter’s search results.
Does my profile have to be of me in a suit? No, definitely not! Your profile picture doesn’t have to feel stuffy to you. It should be a shot where you look presentable and professional (see above for guidance). I am not wearing a suit in my photo, but it’s still an appropriate, professional representation of me with or without a jacket on. If you love your suited-up photo, use it! Ask yourself if you photo conveys energy and the ability to do a great job. If your photo doesn’t say that, or again, isn’t even of you (!), consider changing it.
Well if it’s a personal profile, why can’t my profile picture be of my baby? Technically, it can be, but here’s your forewarning, it doesn’t speak well for you as a professional to feature your kids as your profile picture. In the aforementioned article, Forbes summarized that, “[for mothers], a picture of their child doesn’t convey you’re ready for a full time job.” Upload the baby pictures on Facebook; it’s a much more appropriate place for them.
Ultimately, it’s important to consider what your LinkedIn profile, and any visual image says about you as a professional. Yes, the decision is yours, but I hope you’ll consider the above when posting or changing your LinkedIn profile photo.