LinkedIn can be an excellent place to highlight your work history, industry expertise and overall hiring qualifications. However, since it’s the most inherently professional network, it’s important to follow some general guidelines when choosing which images to use as your profile and background images.
Own Your Images
Don’t do a Google search and stick in whatever image you find, even if it’s a photo of you. Some of those images are under strict copyright. If the photo was taken of you by a professional photographer who worked an event you attended, they may own those images and the rights to them. While copyright infringement lawsuits sound unlikely to happen, websites, social media accounts and print ads have been sued for using unauthorized images. It’s really better not to take a risk. Make sure that you’re using images that you own, even when they’re of you.
Wear Professional Attire
I cannot stress this enough: wear professional clothes. No, you do not need to be in a suit and tie. But you also cannot be in a crop top or swimsuit and be taken seriously. Wearing a more casual outfit – a polo shirt or dress – is perfectly fine if you look professional or want to have some personality on your profile. But even if you’re an avid triathlete, you should not have a picture of yourself in a swimsuit on a professional networking site. Unless the actual job you’re looking for is swimsuit model, you need to wear actual clothes.
Have some personality
A photo with a smile is always more inviting than a stern headshot. Think of your driver’s license – it’s a photo you took after waiting in line for who knows how long, taking tests, dealing with bureaucracy. More than likely, it’s not a photo you believe will endear you to people. Using a headshot where you’re smiling and engaged is likely to help people feel connected to you. Similarly, photos with brightly colored clothing may also be better received than somber neutrals.
Mind the Background
When choosing a photo, it’s worthwhile to examine what’s in the background of the image. If you took a simply stunning photo at a friend’s birthday party but the background includes a neon beer sign, it’s really best to find another image to use.
Crop with Care
With the last point, you may have thought to yourself “Well, no problem, I’ll just crop that beer sign out”. This can sometimes be an appropriate strategy. However, you need to take care with this concept. If you’re cropping out an item in the background, you need to be sure to remove the entire item. Similarly, if you’re cropping out a person but can’t get your whole face without some of their hair being in the photo, it’s really not an optimal image. Be sure that if you’re removing things from the image, there aren’t disembodied traces of them still floating around in your picture.
If all else fails, upload several profile pictures. It seems simple but many people choose a photo, upload it and move on. Comparing and contrasting different images allows you to see not only which image works best in conjunction with your profile but which seems the most inviting.