Tips for a Great LinkedIn Photo

Because your LinkedIn profile often serves as the first impression you make on a business contact, it’s important it portrays you as attractive and likeable as well as competent – someone the contact would like to work with. For instance, if a friend of yours emails a contact of theirs asking them to meet with you, and the contact is debating how to respond, there’s a good chance they’ll look you up on LinkedIn before they decide. If you look approachable, warm and engaged in your picture, most people will think “Sure, I can spare some time to chat. S/he looks nice/friendly/likable/approachable.”

So if your LinkedIn strategy has been to appear very serious, artistic, or unique, please get a second opinion. There’s a danger that an expression that you believe conveys gravitas comes across as critical or depressed, or that a pose meant to look artistic looks arrogant or pretentious to others.

Specific Tips:

Amateur vs. professional photographer: Most people can get an excellent LinkedIn photograph using a relatively new phone camera with a relative or friend serving as the photographer (as long as they are patient). And even if you do wind up working with a professional photographer, you’ll get a better result if you have first done some test shots with a friend or relative. While a professional may not be needed, have someone else take your photo – the front-facing camera on your phone takes lower resolution images.

Location/background: Select locations will that provide good backgrounds for your photos. Most people don’t look best with a stark white or solid color background – usually a painting, bookcase, or outdoor scene behind you is more flattering. And you can try blurring or replacing your backgrounds using a free or low cost app.

Lighting: It’s usually best to face the window or other primary source of light. At the very least, make sure there is plenty of even light on your face and the primary source of light is not be behind you.

Camera height: Ask the photographer to shoot with the camera at or above your eye level. If the photographer is shorter than you are, ask him or her to stand on something (i.e. a few thick books) to even out your heights. Being shot from below can be unflattering to the chin and jawline, particularly if your face isn’t thin.

Resolution: If you’re using a phone, make sure the camera’s still on the highest resolution setting, and that it’s set to upload, email, and text photos at the original resolution – not “high” resolution.

Aspect ratio : Ask the photographer to change the aspect ratio to 1:1 (square).

Zoom/pan: Ask the photographer to pan out before shooting, as you need the initial photo to extend quite a bit above your head and below your shoulders (more than in these examples) to allow for the fact that LinkedIn crops all photos into a circle. To be sure you have enough background, have the photographer center your head in the frame and pan out to include your entire torso. And make sure not to crop the picture before uploading it to LinkedIn.

Head tilt: Keep your head upright! Tilting your head sideways (bringing one ear closer to your shoulder while still looking forward) will make you look less competent. But don’t worry about a minor tilt, as the LinkedIn photo app has a feature that allows you to correct a slight tilt when you upload your photo. Note: a head swivel toward a camera on your left or right side is fine, as long as you smile warmly into the camera lens.

Eye contact: Make eye contact with the camera as the photographer snaps the picture. Research shows making eye contact makes you seem more engaged, more likeable, and more intelligent.

Smile: Smile like you mean it — including with your eyes – as the photographer snaps the picture. Voila!

But if you still don’t look as good in your LinkedIn picture as you do in real life:

  • Get help with your hair and makeup (even guys might benefit from a product to take off the shine off your face).
  • Spend some time finding your best side by having someone to take multiple photos on both sides. Then remember which is your better side and always pose accordingly.
  • Try a commonly flattering angle — push your forehead slightly toward the camera.
  • Hire an professional photographer to take new pictures and/or retouch the ones you have!