First impressions are everything. And on LinkedIn, your photo is a big part of that impression. I’ve found that most people, especially recent college grads, struggle to find a good photo. We don’t all have an awesome professional headshot sitting on our computer waiting for its moment to shine. I promise that it’s worth it to take a photo of yourself specifically for your LinkedIn profile. You can always tell if someone repurposed their senior photos or cropped out a significant other (the tell-tale floating limb). I’m definitely not a professional photographer, but I end up taking a lot of LinkedIn photos for people as the program coordinator at Koru. When I first started grabbing people and making them take a new LinkedIn photo, these were the tips I found most helpful.
Phone and computer cameras are fair game.
LinkedIn photos are small, so the resolution doesn’t have to be great. If you have access to a nice camera, go for it. They do have that magical way of making you look awesome. But phones will do a wonderful job too, especially if you have a friend around to take the photo for you. I also like to use Photo Booth on my computer because I can look at myself while taking the photo. Just know that setting it up at eye level is tough.
Stand 5 feet away from a wall, not against it.
Depth of field will keep it from looking like your high school portrait, and give it the “Oh, I didn’t see you there” effect. It also gets rid of shadows that make you look pinned to a wall against your will.
Make it a fun background.
Off-white sideboards on your front porch are boring. And are you boring? Of course not! I find that taking photos outside is pretty difficult because the light is stronger and changes so much. I’d recommend somewhere inside, with natural light through windows. Try to find somewhere with cool interior design or artwork, and a place that hints at a professional setting. It doesn’t hurt to visually put yourself in the setting where you want to work.
Get that small smile.
Yes, smile! Smiling makes you look approachable, agreeable, and confident. But because LinkedIn photos are professional, close-up headshots, I suggest that you don’t give it your biggest cheese. That’s why I like the small smile. Tug up the corners of your mouth (teeth or no teeth) just enough to make it a smile. Then channel Tyra and smile with your eyes! It also helps if there’s someone around to really make you laugh.
Make it look like you.
I mean literally look like you do in everyday life. LinkedIn is mainly about finding people, so it decreases stress for others when you can be identified in a coffee shop from your LinkedIn photo. But I also mean symbolically. It should be a photo that is authentic to you and your style. We all know that communication is overwhelmingly non-verbal. It’s just as true online as it is in person. Your photo doesn’t have to be perfect. It just needs to be good enough to show that you think about your personal brand and you’re intentional about it. Plus, it’s pretty easy to change. Here are some examples that I really like: