Recently at the digital company I work for, a prospective client revealed that they had checked out all of the employee LinkedIn profiles during its company screening process. They eliminated possible companies solely based on those profiles. This is just one real life example of how first impressions count. They can be the difference in getting someone’s business, or landing a new job.
I think we can all agree our digital presence matters more than ever. As social media exploded we quickly learned; how we represent ourselves online matters to our peers as well as co-workers and potential business associates. There are staggering statistics about employers looking up potential prospects online through Facebook, LinkedIn, Google searches.
When it comes to our professional presence LinkedIn is obviously the place to go. Too many people however make the mistake of creating poor profiles and adding even worse photos. LinkedIn is not Facebook. This is how you present yourself to employers and clients. One first bad first impression can make or break you.
So do yourself a favour and get a quality profile picture. Look below to see if your profile picture falls into one of these less favorable categories. Sure these photos may not actually cost you a job, but think about what they say about you. What does your photo say about your personality, your level of thought and diligence? You don’t have to go over the top, but you should have a good quality photo that displays some sense of personality while maintaining a serious business attitude.
Are you committing these LinkedIn photo crimes? (Well not crimes, but you can do better) I've dug up some photos that are representative of some I have actually seen on LinkedIn. Don't let this be you!
The Cropped Family Photo
This just shows a lack of effort. Are you telling me you can’t find a single picture of you looking okay that doesn’t have your arm chopped off behind someone’s cropped shoulder or have arms coming out of your head.
Well you paid good money for your grad portrait sitting, may as well get some use out of those shots. Not only can this suggest your inexperience as a recent grad, but many make the crime of using the proof the grad photo company sent to you with their watermarks all over your face.
I know you looked great in your college years with your full head of luscious chocolate brown locks and trim waistline. But if your photo predates the website it is on, it is time for a new one. Also if your photo predates double digit megapixels it's probably a good time to revisit it.
Your potential client doesn’t need to know you are a pro water skier or favour Dos Equis. Separate business from pleasure on LinkedIn no matter how cool you look smoking a cigar in Cuba.
Fear light do ya? Don’t like going out during the day? Even if you decide to half-ass your photo, at least choose a photo that was taken with some kind of light around you. Try an outdoor photo during the day, at the very least a well lit room inside.
Firstly, this word should be struck from our cultural vernacular. Secondly, you should not be the one taking your profile picture unless you are a skilled photographer with a tripod and camera timer. Hand extended selfies should be reserved for 14 year old girls and the dashing Bradley Cooper for celebrity publicity stunts.
This one is not the worst offender. You at least made an effort to take a quality photo. These tend to feel stuffy or outdated. The worst part of these is usually the horrible muslin backgrounds. If you are going to go for a boring Jostens vibe at least request a plain coloured background like white or black.
The Distracting Background
Your profile picture should be of you. The viewer should not be looking at distracting background elements. If there is something more interesting in the photo then you, skip that as an option.
The Wedding Photo
There are a couple of ways to be an offender in this category but they are all usually due to the same reasoning. The only time you’ve had a professional photo taken of you is being a bride/groom, bridal party member, or a guest at a wedding. You may look sharp in that tuxedo but having that as a profile picture may be more appropriate for Dale and Brennan.
Everyone lets loose from time to time. Most of us go to social functions where we perhaps make questionable choices around people with cameras. I shouldn’t even have to include this one the list but for some reason I have seen LinkedIn photos that clearly send the wrong idea to employers. If this is you then I will have a cold cut combo with sub sauce and southwest chipotle.
I don’t care if you work for the corporate offices of Instagram. There should be no funky filters or cool grungy borders on your professional profile picture.
Photos of you posing with your adorable baby or puppy should be reserved for Facebook. Even then that may be unnecessary. Keep your personal life personal. Keep your professional life professional.