In today’s digital world in-person job fairs are quickly becoming a thing of the past, and sites such as LinkedIn are a recruiter’s new go-to source for finding talent. Your profile picture is one of the most important aspects of your profile, yet it’s often overlooked or chosen hastily. Like it or not, you will be judged by your photo — though not the way you may think. We have to reevaluate our preconceived notions of what constitutes a “good” picture of ourselves.
As a recruiter for over a decade, I’m not looking for attractive; I’m looking for a good fit. My advice is to get a professional head shot if you can afford it. If not, have a friend who’s handy with a camera help you. Carefully plan your attire and backdrop. With all the advice out there on this topic, I’m still surprised everyday by what I see! This overview includes the seven deadliest picture sins, and saintly tips to help guide you in your journey to creating a well-received Linkedin profile picture.
PRIDE :: THE SELFIE
As a recruiter, this is my number one pet peeve. All I can say is just don’t do it. Even if you have your office in the background, don’t do it. To hiring managers this says unprofessional. Take pride in your photo. If you need a picture fast and can’t do a professional shoot, at least take five minutes and have a co-worker snap a picture of you smiling against a plain backdrop in the office; this is a hundred times better than a selfie.
GLUTTONY :: THE BACKGROUND
I’m going with the weird background on this one. That picture of you in a restaurant eating, or in a club drinking, is not okay. You may think this shows you are fun to be around, but managers want someone serious and committed. These odd background choices could make a hiring manger question your professionalism.
LUST :: THE SEXY PICTURE
LinkedIn is not a dating website. The recruiter is not going to pick you from Linkedin because you look hot. Dressing in skimpy outfits sends the wrong message, yes ladies I’m talking to you. No pouty lips or sunglasses please! Whether managers know it or not they are subconsciously using that picture to judge key traits about you. Remember, you want to look competent and bright; glamour shots say immature and do nothing to bolster your perceived intellect.
WRATH :: SLICING AND DICING
Do you dislike your friend, because I see you cut off half their head? Don’t crop people out of photos that’s just weird.
GREED :: MY STUFF
Occasionally I see pictures where the candidate is attempting to impress viewers with material possessions. They are in front of a fancy car, house, or posing with a celebrity, athlete, politician, etc. Recruiters will judge success based on your employment background and credentials, not by how much money you have or if you know someone famous.
ENVY :: MY POSSE
Yes, your baby is cute. I know you love your dog. I think it’s great you have a boyfriend too. Please, please, please, leave them out of the Linkedin photo.
SLOTH :: NO PICTURE
No picture? Say what? The most common excuses are, I don’t have one of myself I like, I’m too old, or I’m overweight, and I hate getting my picture taken. My response, no excuses!
What are you going to do at the interview, put a paper bag over your face? The company you want to work for has to see you at some point. Above all have confidence. Believe in yourself and be proud of what you have accomplished. Put on some makeup, wear a nice suit and smile. Show the world how beautiful you are, inside and out! Don’t get hung up on physical attractiveness, employers are looking for someone who is eager to join their team and will fit in with the company culture.
Saintly Tips for Linkedin:
- Use a calming background such as a brick wall or an office, nothing too busy or distracting.
- Dress the way you would come into the office; this will help the manager “picture” you in the role.
- I’m often asked if a nature background is okay. I’m very outdoorsy so I love them. A word of caution, you should still be in professional attire (no hiking gear). Yes, it will look awkward if it’s a full body shot of you wearing a suit in the middle of a forest, so plan carefully. A waist up shot with trees blurred out in the background could be lovely though.
- Use an up-to-date photo. It’s tempting to use one where look thinner or younger, but you don’t want to walk into an interview and surprise people with looking completely different. It can give off a “dishonest” vibe to the hiring team.
- Smiling is important. No smile or the “mug shot” photo can leave an initial impression that you are unfriendly and not approachable. Relax and try to think of something that makes you happy. When you genuinely smile (even a tiny smile) you will notice your whole face lightens, even your eyes will look different.
- Your photo should reflect who you are. If you don’t wear suits to work and prefer cardigans that’s what you should wear. If you love to read, consider a photo shoot in a library.
- Try to have the photo of your face and shoulders; even to your waist is okay. A full body shot is unnecessary and can be distracting on your Linkedin.
Annette Clayton is a writer and human resources professional residing in the Frederick, Maryland area. She has a Master's Degree in Writing for Children and Young Adults and has published several books with more on the way. When she's not reading or plotting out her next novel, you can find her hiking on the Appalachian trail.