Whether it’s a dating profile picture or a LinkedIn profile picture, first impressions start with the profile picture in the digital age. Here are 5 LinkedIn profile picture tips to leave a positive first impression.

5 LinkedIn Profile Picture Tips to Leave a Positive First Impression

“Emily, what do you think about this guy’s profile?” I glance over at my friend’s screen displaying a profile on a dating app called Happn. I view the single-page and see his photo, age, location, occupation, last activity, interests, and music selection. Snickering inside, the recruiter inside me can’t help but think about the need to figure out his last name to cross-reference and fill in the remaining blanks of his profile picture, educational background, work history, groups, and followed influencers on LinkedIn.

“Meh. He’s okay. Show me a better picture.” I feel slightly shallow at making this quick judgement call but isn’t that what all of these apps aim for these days? 2-second snap judgements based on physical appearances. Swipe right or left and on to the next. Finding a date has become a numbers game.

When reviewing a resume, I often scan, review, and either move forward (swipe right) or reject (swipe left) based on words capturing stability, growth, skills, and pedigree. I can tell that job searching is also a numbers game, especially when the wrong title or company is written on their objective statement (which in my opinion shouldn’t even be on a resume – topic for discussion at a later time). Addressing the wrong company name is like calling your date Tiffany, Britney. Big no no.

5 LinkedIn profile picture tips for leaving a positive first impression is as follows:

1. Straight-on Selfie
You may be as cool as Kanye West and have an entourage, but leave them out of your picture. Your LinkedIn profile picture should be about you, angled straight-on. No Myspace angle from the top showing off cleavage. No prom side profile snapshots. No group photo with someone’s severed arm cropped off with a mystery hand on one side of your tummy.

2. High-Resolution
You don’t need a professional photographer to take your photo but your LinkedIn profile photo should be clear. Most cameras on smartphones these days come with at least 8 megapixels. This is plenty sufficient for quality close-ups. A standard photo should capture either head and shoulders or head to waist.

3. Wardrobe: Hoodie vs. Suit
When it comes to wardrobe, know your industry’s standard. Zuckie, CEO of Facebook, wore his iconic hoodies, t-shirt, jeans and sneakers to important Wall Street meetings and this has been widely accepted in tech. But if you’re in tech and interested in moving over to professional services like law firms, finance & banking, real estate, etc., then dust off that suit or wear a nice blouse/ironed shirt. Know your audience and who you are trying to target. If you’re in sales, oftentimes you want to present your professional foot forward so a good rule of thumb is wear what you would to an interview.

4. Smile!
Your LinkedIn profile picture should be warm and inviting. If you clamor up in front of a camera, just have a friend tell you a joke or think about something that makes you happy. If you don’t smile often, the good news is a photograph lasts forever. Have fun with capturing the perfect smile!

5. Light & Background
When taking a photo, the main source of light should be facing you. Make sure your background isn’t distracting and you have contrast with your background. If you are taking a photo against a white wall, be sure to wear something color. The background can be fun, just make sure it isn’t distracting as your main focal point of the photo should be your face.

Of course this post would be incomplete without an example of the 5 LinkedIn profile picture tips put together. Here is my current LinkedIn profile picture… (Hi!). 🙂


5 LinkedIn Profile Picture Tips


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