Photo Credit: Photo by HTSABO

You need to have a photograph of yourself on your LinkedIn profile page if you want to use LinkedIn to find jobs, consulting gigs, potential partners, and customers.

A complete LinkedIn profile allows you to:

  1. apply to jobs through LinkedIn
  2. post recommendations – not endorsements, but actual text – from colleagues, bosses, clients, etc.
  3. add audiovisual material to showcase your talent and achievements

If you don’t have a LinkedIn photograph, people won’t think you’re a real person. Or they won’t take you seriously. People want to know who you are, and that includes seeing you. Potential employers also may want to see if you do things thoroughly; having a complete profile sends that message.

So what makes a good LinkedIn profile photograph? And why?

  1. you are facing the camera or at most have a slight tilt away: people get a better sense of you when they see more of your face. If too little of your face shows, subliminal messaging may be that you have something to hide.
  2. you are smiling: welcome people! show that you’re open and engaging and probably fun to work with.
  3. it is a head shot, perhaps with a bit of shoulder: again, people want to know what you look like, not what your body looks like. 
  4. the background is white or light gray or light blue: show off your face and let people see you clearly. Light backgrounds make everyone stand out.
  5. you are wearing clothing that is suitably professional for your occupation: put your best foot forward and show you fit into the industry in which you work or want to work.
  6. it is in color: show yourself off instead of trying to look artistic or mysterious. Neither is attractive to prospective employers.

Are there exceptions to these guidelines? Of course. However: Go with the tried and true if you’re not sure whether you can get away with a bowed head, or a black and white photo, or a busy background (e.g. trees, a library).  When in doubt, go with these guidelines.