6 Expert Tips For A Great LinkedIn Profile Photo

by | Finding A Job, Resumes & LinkedIn

LinkedIn profiles with a photo are up to 21 times more likely to be viewed by fellow users, receive up to 36 times more messages, and garner up to 9 times more connection requests, according to the platform.

If you’re looking for a new job, additional views and outreach from prospective employers can make a huge impact on your search, so it’s worth investing in a good LinkedIn photo.

Moreover, as a LinkedIn Top Voice (the platform’s highest honor), I’m always looking for ways to leverage the site’s features to their maximum potential to support job seekers.

But how do you take a high-quality LinkedIn photo that stands out on the platform? Whether you opt for a professional portrait or an at-home photo, continue reading for 6 tips to improve your LinkedIn headshot.

6 Tips For A Professional LinkedIn Photo

1. Prioritize quality with your LinkedIn photo.

First and foremost, you want a quality LinkedIn photo, as you only get one first impression on the platform. That said, please know that it’s not a requirement to shell out hundreds of dollars for a quality headshot.

While I often recommend that my senior manager and executive clients invest in professional headshots, given the increased visibility of their roles and rapid advancements in technology, it can be difficult to discern whether a photo was taken professionally or on a smartphone.

If you do opt to take your own LinkedIn profile photo, you’ll want to ensure you use a quality camera. Thankfully, today’s smartphones have high-quality cameras that can take great photos.

Tip: You might consider using the popular portrait mode, which provides a depth-of-field perspective and blurs the background.

[Read: AI-Generated Headshots: Are They LinkedIn Worthy?]

2. Be mindful of the background for your LinkedIn photo.

Speaking of backgrounds, you want to be mindful that your background doesn’t distract from the main subject of your LinkedIn photo — you!

If you decide to take your LinkedIn photo at home, consider standing in front of a blank wall.

Alternatively, if you want to add some visual variety, you can opt for a brick wall or greenery, but again, make sure it’s not too distracting.

As you’ll see in the sample LinkedIn profile photo below, you want your background to complement your subject, not sidetrack the viewer.

3. Ensure that you have ample lighting for your LinkedIn photo.

As you prepare to take your photo, you also want to make certain you have adequate lighting.

Natural lighting is ideal, but you can add artificial lighting if necessary to ensure your photo is bright enough.

Go easy with any selfie lights, as you don’t want to look washed out, which can happen when you overuse artificial light.

4. Choose the outfit for your LinkedIn photo wisely.

Job seekers often ask me what they should wear when taking their LinkedIn profile photo. It can be difficult to choose the right outfit, as you can’t switch it up depending on who you’re meeting with, like you would for a job interview, so your profile photo is stagnant.

As a career coach, I typically recommend something like what you would wear to a first interview at your dream company, since the platform is like a giant networking event, and you never know who you’ll run into on the platform.

At the same time, you want to ensure you’re comfortable, as discomfort will come across in your photo if you feel awkward in your outfit.

[Read: What To Wear To A Tech Interview, According To Experts]

5. Prioritize yourself in your LinkedIn photo.

You might be tempted to crop a photo from a wedding or company event to make the process of updating your headshot easy, but I caution against this, as you only get one first impression, and you want to make it the best one possible, especially if you’re job searching.

Additionally, those of you who are camera-shy might wish to opt for a company logo or your favorite quote. However, LinkedIn’s profile photo guidelines and conditions expressly prohibit the following:

  • Company logos
  • Avatars, emojis, or cartoons
  • Landscapes
  • Animals
  • Words or phrases
  • Stock images or photos
  • Childhood or baby photos (or other images that would not be recognizable to current or potential connections)

Beyond the platform prohibiting these items, remember, your LinkedIn profile is about you, so your profile should reflect you — and your smile.

6. Crop your photo for the LinkedIn platform.

Finally, you’ll want to crop your photo to fit the platform’s requirements.

Lydia Abbot, a senior content marketing manager at LinkedIn, advises that your face take up at least 60% of the frame. She also suggests that you “Crop the picture from the top of your shoulders to just above your head so that your face fills the frame.”

“The ideal size for your LinkedIn profile is 400 x 400 pixels,” adds Abbot. She explains that larger file sizes are fine, so long as they don’t exceed 8MB. “Try to avoid small, low-resolution images.”

LinkedIn Photo Example

So, what does this look like all put together? The following is an example LinkedIn photo that incorporates these various elements.

J.V. LinkedIn Profile Photo

Sample LinkedIn profile photo of J.V. Vallejos.

This sample LinkedIn profile photo of my partner, J.V., was taken by professional photographer Christina Chamma when we visited the University of North Dakota for our graduation ceremony.

You’ll notice that J.V. is dressed in business clothes, there’s natural light coming from the window, and he’s sporting a wide smile. Additionally, the background is simple yet professional.

Note: CaffeinatedKyle.com uses an image compressor to increase site speed and improve the user experience, so the photo displayed here is lower quality than the one that appears on J.V.’s LinkedIn profile.

Final Thoughts: Capturing A Great LinkedIn Profile Photo

Although your profile photo is only a single aspect of a complete profile, it’s an important one that’s worth doing right. As you continue to optimize your profile, here are additional resources to support you in standing out on the platform and attracting the attention of recruiters and hiring managers:

Now it’s time to put these expert tips into action and capture a great LinkedIn profile photo. You’ve got this!

About Dr. Kyle Elliott

About Dr. Kyle Elliott

Dr. Kyle Elliott is the founder and career coach behind CaffeinatedKyle.com. His expertise is in Silicon Valley and high-tech. As a result of working with Dr. Elliott, senior managers and executives have landed jobs at Meta, Amazon, Google, and nearly every other tech giant you can imagine.

A trusted career expert, Dr. Elliott’s words have been featured on Business Insider, CNBC, CNN, Entrepreneur, Fast Company, Fortune, Harvard Business Review, and The New York Times, among dozens of other leading publications. He has been recognized as a Best Career & Interview Coach, Best Resume Writer for Silicon Valley/Tech Managers & Executives, and LinkedIn Top Voice (the platform’s highest honor).

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