You know what they say, 'first impressions matter', and this is definitely the case when it comes to how you appear on LinkedIn.
From hiring managers, colleagues, and employers, to industry peers, anyone can judge you based on how you have presented yourself in your profile.
That's why whether you're on a job search or looking to build new connections, the quality of your profile picture is critical.
Your photographer, lighting, right down to the dress code, can all play a role in how you're perceived right from the very first click.
In this article, we'll provide you with a few essential tips to help you curate a professional headshot that will impress potential connections and get the invitations to roll in.
The Right Photographer
A simple selfie will not get you far on LinkedIn. Invest in hiring a professional photographer or ask a friend to help you find the perfect headshot.
Have them take multiple photos of you, preferably on a DSLR camera, to optimise both the photo quality and overall professional look of your headshot. From there, you will have extra help handling all the camera equipment (e.g. tripod or phone stand, ring light, etc.) and directing you on how to pose more naturally- this will make all the difference.
Getting a second opinion is also ideal, especially from either a professional or multiple friends and colleagues.
The right photographer will know how to frame you appropriately for a profile photo that is only a small thumbnail. The image should be cropped from a couple of inches above your head to the top of your shoulders.
A photo of you from a distance will not make your face readable, and consequently, your profile will not be recognisable by your friends or colleagues.
LinkedIn suggests your face should fill 60% of the frame for optimal reception of your profile image.
A Realistic Image
It should go without saying, but your professional photo for LinkedIn should represent how you look on a normal workday. Your viewers need a clear, professional image of how you look in real life while at work. Not a photo of you five years ago, in casual clothing, or a candid from a party.
If your photo is unreliable, people will be prompted to question your credibility. An updated profile image needs to show the minor details that make ALL the difference, such as your latest eyewear, hair colour, or makeup style. An additional tip is to keep consistent across your social media platforms.
If you have scheduled a meeting with someone you have only contacted online, chances are they've had a little stalk of your profile to prepare them for seeing you for the first time. Therefore, it is recommended to use similar images and themes on your professional and social networking profiles to make you more recognisable and leave a great impression.
The Right Expression
Your profile picture is a powerful tool—it's like your visual business card. It provides an immediate sense of who you are, whether that's stern, approachable, or somewhere in between. While everyone's approach is different, a genuine smile tends to break barriers, fostering an inviting atmosphere for connections.
LinkedIn found that showcasing a smile with teeth can make you appear twice as likable and influential. It's not about being flashy but about authenticity. When gearing up for that photo, make sure your facial expressions are genuine and your body language relaxed.
Direct eye contact with the camera can be impactful—it's as if you're engaging in a face-to-face conversation. A bit of practice in front of a mirror can help in achieving that natural yet professional look.
Dressing the Part
Once you've mastered the expression, it's time to consider attire. Your outfit should be a reflection of your profession but also stay true to your personal style.
For men, a crisp dress shirt, a neat suit jacket, or a tie can elevate the image. Women might lean towards refined blouses or well-fitted blazers. Here's a handy hint: Collared shirts tend to work wonders. Even if the photo captures just your upper frame, the hint of formality remains evident.
While personal flair is encouraged, overly bright colours or bold patterns might divert attention. Stick to solid, understated shades. And a gentle reminder: moderation is key when it comes to jewellery or makeup. Let your professional essence be the focal point.
Lighting makes a big difference in your profile photos. We recommend soft, natural lighting for your images, as it emphasises a warm, welcoming look and feel. This means your photographer won't require much after-effects and over-editing because it brightens up your face and minimises shadows, which are flattering qualities.
Therefore, avoid cloudy, overcast days because there is little direct sunlight to illuminate your face. That way, you won't have to worry about any additional editing, ensuring the photos come out as natural and quickly as possible.
LinkedIn has photo editing features that you can take advantage of. There are six filters to choose from so you can set a mood with your photo. While the platform generously offers a suite of filters, it's wise to tread lightly.
Be careful not to over-saturate the background image by turning up the filter to 100% opacity because you may risk lowering the overall professional feel. And if you feel the itch to fine-tune, LinkedIn's toolbox awaits: from brightness to cropping, every adjustment is an opportunity to craft that impeccable image.
A Simple Background
The background of your photo is like the setting for a story—it should complement, not overwhelm.
Don’t take focus away from your photo by having a busy background or distracting subjects in the frame. Where the picture is taken is important because you must ensure you are the focal point.
While you want to avoid scenes that are too chaotic or plain, seek spots that accentuate rather than dominate—think a stylish office backdrop, a serene park, or a sleek building exterior.
Aim for a backdrop that's intriguing yet subtle. Remember, your profile should highlight you. Avoid including elements like pets or children, as this space is solely dedicated to showcasing your professional self.
Keep the frame exclusive to you. Avoid using cropped group photos that may affect the quality of your LinkedIn picture. For a sharp, clear focus on you, it's best to go solo in your professional headshots. If showcasing your team feels essential, reserve that for the banner section.
Making First Impressions Count with the Right Profile Picture
Your LinkedIn profile picture does more than just show your face - it's the book cover that tells your story.
Choosing the perfect image is crucial for attracting potential employers and expanding your professional connections.
From considering lighting, background, expression, and all these other factors, they all help to make sure all your first impressions on LinkedIn truly counts.
For more advice regarding your LinkedIn, speak to our team today to help you build your professional network online.