Recently, at a client visit, the security guard used the picture on my driver’s license to create my visitor’s badge.
Usually, that’s not a problem. But in this particular picture, I had a horrific haircut that called my entire gender in question! It wasn’t the image I wanted to present to my client and definitely not the impression I had hoped to create.
If pictures and images of ourselves are so important in the professional world, I wondered why many of us do not give our LinkedIn profile pictures much thought.
As a recruiter, on any given day, I see hundreds of LinkedIn profile pictures and encounter an assortment of questionable ones daily – such as the selfie in the front seat of a car complete with seatbelt and sunglasses, pictures with the entire family or strangely enough- a LinkedIn profile picture of just a dog, no person!
You can’t help but wonder what is that person trying to convey? And I asked myself, “What would they say if I put that picture on their nametag when they go for an interview?”
At a time when so many recruiters and job hunters are online, what does your LinkedIn picture say about you? What should you include and what should you toss?
Let’s start with no-no’s first:
1. No pictures with multiple people in it: When a recruiter or hiring manager looks at your picture, they should be able to tell easily and clearly who you are. And unsurprisingly, that’s hard to do when you have multiple people in your LinkedIn picture. So, while you think you look cute in that group picture from college or from an office outing, you’re not helping the hiring manager pick you out from the crowd.
2. Refrain from posting pictures of your family: While tempting to celebrate relationship milestones like a wedding or new baby, refrain from posting LinkedIn pictures of your family, the new baby, or yourself in a tux or wedding dress. While these are wonderful milestones, they don’t convey your professional image. You would also not go to work in your bridal dress or wear a tux to meet a client. Also, if you are meeting another professional – would you meet them as a professional or as a family man / woman? This should help frame what your picture should look like.
3. No sunglasses: Would you wear your sunglasses in your cubicle? Or perch them on top of your head at a big partner’s meeting? Well, you have your answer, then.
4. Pay attention to your photo’s background: Pay close attention to not just what’s right in front of you but also what’s in the background. I have seen multiple pictures where the LinkedIn picture, with a clearly visible toilet, or an unmade bed or partial body parts of people in the background! Think about the message you’re sending your peers and bosses when your LinkedIn picture is posted without much thought, attention to detail, or preparation. Be thoughtful in how you crop the picture as well.
5. No animals! This should be a no-brainer but unless you work with animals (or the animal itself is looking for a job, hah!) – they have no business being in your profile picture. In my long stint as a recruiter, I have seen profiles with pets in the picture, a giraffe and in one profile, just a picture of the dog – no human!
Given these no-no’s how should you plan for your Profile picture?
1. Wear something professional: Think about how you dress everyday to work and take it up a notch for your profile picture. If you work at an office where a button-down is daily wear, take your picture in a suit. If it’s a more casual environment, wear a nice button-down or a pretty blouse with simple jewelry, for the ladies.
2. Stand in front of something solid: A good clean, well-lit background makes for the best pictures. Think of an exposed brick wall, a solid colored wall, or even pretty landscaping.
3. Smile, be natural: You want to look friendly, approachable, and professional in your picture. Take a few shots so you can select the best picture to present to your professional world.
4. Update every few years: Your profile picture should be an accurate and up to date representation of how you look right now. Recruiters or would-be co-workers should not be shocked at the dramatic or drastic differences between you and your LinkedIn picture from 12 years ago.
These tips, though by no means comprehensive, are meant to help you think about your career, the direction you want it to go, and how you can present your best self to your work world.