We live in a visual world and LinkedIn, the professional social network is no exception.
Research has shown that LinkedIn profiles with photographs are 10 times more likely to be viewed than profiles without. Why? First, a profile without a photograph looks incomplete and busy recruiters are not going to spend their valuable time looking at profiles with information missing. Secondly, and probably most importantly, we are a visual species with over 50% of communication being conducted through body language and appearance. We like to know what people look like in order to judge them in our normal manner and believe us when we tell you that people are judging your LinkedIn profile photograph.
Your LinkedIn profile needs to convey your personal brand and the photograph that you use is an essential part of this. What does your photograph say about you? Does it position you as the competent, influential professional that you are? Here are our top ten tips to use your LinkedIn photograph to convey your professional personal brand.
Dress for the job that you want
Your LinkedIn profile should position you as a professional in the industry that you want to work in. Make it easy for people to envisage you working in that industry by using a photograph that shows you dressed as you would for an interview. Depending on the industry, this is likely to be business formal or business casual, avoiding any distracting accessories (i.e. glitzy earrings) or revealing/low-cut/sheer clothing. If you are not sure whether business formal or business casual applies to your industry, check out the ‘Meet our Team’ website section of relevant organizations website to determine what the dress code is…and copy it.
The purpose of social networking is connecting, and body language is just as important in online networking as it is in face-to-face interactions. For people to want to reach out to you, you should look approachable and likeable. The easiest way to do this is to smile and look at the camera.
Leave the selfie stick at home
We are all guilty of taking the occasional selfie. When we take a selfie, we position our head in a certain way that screams “this is a selfie!” While this is ok for Facebook vacation photographs, it is not perceived as professional enough for LinkedIn. Put the selfie stick down and ask someone to take the photograph for you.
Who is that?
You want people to be able to recognize you from your LinkedIn photograph. They will not be able to do this if your face is covered up with sunglasses or you upload a work team photograph or, even worse, a family photo with everyone including the pet dog in it. Your image should be a head and shoulders shot of you and only you, no matter how great your colleagues are.
What’s that behind you?
The focus of your photograph should be you, so avoid any distracting backgrounds that draw attention away from you. This doesn’t mean standing in front of a plain white wall with the risk of creating a mugshot style image! Coloured or outdoor backgrounds can create a more flattering image, but avoid including distracting items such as cluttered rooms, Christmas trees or other people!
Showcase your tech skills
LinkedIn photographs should be 200 by 200 pixels. Uploading a photograph that doesn’t meet these requirements can result in a fuzzy image that causes people to doubt your technology skills. Additionally, avoid uploading a file that you need to zoom-in on repeatedly, as this will likely result in a pixelated image that doesn’t showcase you as the professional that you are.
Hire a professional
Sometimes, only a professional will do and the financial investment is worth it. If you work in a particularly image-conscious industry or simply want to show the best version of yourself, invest in a professional photographer to take your headshot.
Keep it current
You might have preferred the way that you looked 5 or 10 years ago, many of us do! However, you don’t want to be known as that person who uses an out-of-date photograph. Make sure that you are recognizable by using a current photograph that represents your current appearance.
Make use of the background photograph
A relatively recent addition to the LinkedIn profile is the background photograph (the same idea as your wallpaper on your Facebook account). This can be used to support your personal brand, by showcasing the company logo of the organization that you own/operate or uploading an image that relates to your industry. If you don’t have an image of your own, websites such as Free LinkedIn Backgrounds offer free images in the correct size for uploading.
While you have to be satisfied that the image that you upload accurately presents your personal brand, it is ultimately the opinions of others that count. You can, of course, ask trustworthy friends and colleagues for their opinion but there is now also an online alternative option. PhotoFeeler provides unbiased feedback on your Linkedin profile photograph with anonymous users assessing how competent, likable and influential you appear.