7 Tips for Creating the Perfect LinkedIn Profile Photo

Since the birth of social media, we have grown more and more inclined to give in to our narcissistic tendencies. Vanity has reached such proportions never seen before that, these days, we take photos not because we want to capture a memorable moment, but because we need a new profile photo for Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

Unlike most social networks, LinkedIn is not a place for narcissism—it is a place for professionalism. And yet, having a great profile photo is even more crucial in LinkedIn than in any other social networking site because it can make all the difference in getting you hired.

Here are a few tips to help you take the perfect LinkedIn profile photo:

1. Make an effort to look your best.

As much as we may want to believe otherwise, physical attractiveness really gives you a certain edge when it comes to job hunting. In 2013, researchers from the University of Messina and Marche Polytechnic University in Italy conducted a study on how beauty influences a person’s chances of getting hired by sending out 10,000 identical resumes (with different photos) to a variety of employers. The average callback rate for resumes with photos of attractive women was 54 percent, while the callback rate for less attractive women clocked in at just seven percent.

Suffice to say, the results are pretty disheartening—but that’s the sad reality of the job market these days. Some employers have an unspoken bias in favor of pretty people, and unfortunately, we can’t change how we look. But the positive thing here is that beauty is utterly subjective, which is why you need to put in an effort to look your best to increase your own chances of getting that job.

Here are some tips to help you look great for your LinkedIn profile photo:

  • Choose a flattering hairstyle that still makes you look professional.
  • Accentuate your best facial features with makeup—but keep it light and appropriate.
  • Find your best angle!

2. Wear an appropriate attire.

Even in your LinkedIn profile photo, you need to wear something business appropriate. Wear whatever you would wear to a job interview. Of course, depending on your chosen career, this could mean hoodies and blue jeans. However, just because your profession allows you to dress like Mark Zuckerberg doesn’t mean you shouldn’t make more of an effort to dress up in your LinkedIn photo.

And remember: no over-the-top jewelry, no hats, no sunglasses, and definitely no cleavage. Showing some skin may get you hired by some employers, but if you want to be taken seriously, you’re going to want to keep yourself covered up. Your LinkedIn profile is a huge part of your personal brand, and you want to make sure that your photo reflects that brand.

3.Use a pleasant, slightly happy expression.

When posing for your profile photo, make sure to look slightly happy—nothing more, nothing less. Why? Because according to the recent findings of a study conducted by researchers from New York University, employers tend to gravitate towards people who looked only slightly happy in their photos. Meanwhile, those who wore huge grins or laughing smiles (as well as those who appeared too serious or stern) in their photos were perceived negatively.

Stick to a small, sincere smile. You can even show off those pearly whites of yours—but just make sure to keep yourself from looking too happy.

4. Choose an inconspicuous background.

Your face needs to be the main focus of your photo, so avoid posing in front of a distracting background. After all that effort you put into making yourself look good and practicing the perfect slightly happy expression, you don’t want your background to upstage you, right? It doesn’t even have to be a boring white background—it just needs to be simple and neutral enough so that it won’t take the focus away from you.

5. Take your photo in the right lighting.

Everyone knows lighting can make all the difference in photos. For your LinkedIn profile photo, make sure your photo isn’t too dark or too bright. Natural lighting is best, but if you have other lighting options available to you, play around with them and see what type of lighting is most flattering for you and helps set the mood you are trying to create.

6. No selfies!

No matter how gorgeous you look in that selfie, you need to resist the urge to use it on your LinkedIn page. Selfies can make you appear unprofessional, and that’s clearly not the impression you want to make on your potential employers.

7. Use a high-quality camera.

Professional headshots are always a great idea, but those can get pretty expensive—plus it’s best to change your LinkedIn profile photo at least once a year, which means this is going to be a recurring expense.

Still, it is really important to have a high-quality photo, so if you don’t want to hire a professional photographer to do your headshots for you, you should consider investing in a good point-and-shoot digital camera or a professional DSLR camera. There are many affordable digital camera options on the market, and you can choose from entry level to something a bit more powerful, depending on your level of expertise with a camera.

If you’ve never used a professional camera before, you can go online and find some photography tutorials, or you can ask a friend or family member to take photos of you.

The perfect LinkedIn profile photo should have all the right components to present you as a confident, credible, and highly capable professional—someone employers would be more than happy to hire. And as they say, a picture is worth a thousand words, so yours should be able to effectively communicate your personal brand message all on its own.

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Ms. Career Girl

Ms. Career Girl was started in 2008 to help ambitious young professional women figure out who they are, what they want and how to get it.