As a LinkedIn profile writer, I can ensure the verbal content makes a great impression, but you also need to post a good picture.
Is it superficial for recruiters to spend so much time looking at the picture? That’s a matter of opinion, but it’s also just human nature.
Within seconds of seeing someone’s face, we feel like we have some idea what kind of person they are. Right or wrong, those first impressions will influence whether we trust that person and want to talk to them. It will affect how we treat them.
What does your photo say about you? People’s reactions to your photo will be highly subjective, but in general a good photo can say “I am approachable, pleasant, energetic and professional.”
A bad photo may say “I’m stressed out,” “I’m intimidating,” or “I lack passion about my work” if the facial expression and lighting aren’t sending the right message. It can say “I’m careless with details/have poor judgment” if the photo is underexposed or inappropriate.
Having no photo at all is not a solution. A profile without a photo can seem evasive, as though you’re hiding something.
Profiles with a photo are more appealing, appear more credible, and are seven times more likely to be viewed than those without.
A photo also helps clearly identify you, distinguishing you from that other guy who has your name and a police record!
“Okay, I know I should post a picture but I don’t seem to get around to it.” Let’s look at what might be stopping you, and some tips for getting it done.
“I don’t have any good photos of myself, and a professional photo can be expensive.”
If you really can’t afford a pro, you can sometimes get good results by having a friend photograph you. There’s actually one advantage: your affection for your friend may enhance your smile!
Lighting is very important, so make sure it’s flattering – ideally, outdoors in the morning or late afternoon, or in the shade so there are no harsh shadows.
Take as many shots as possible – at least a dozen, in different locations and at various angles. (Professionals often shoot several rolls in one session!) Pick your own top five, then ask several friends which of the five they like best. Tell them what you’re looking for, e.g. “the one that does the best job of making me look like someone who’s collaborative but can also be a strong leader, someone you’d want to hire as a manager.” Otherwise they may just pick the one that looks the most beautiful, or some other trait they are focused on.
If you can afford to hire a pro, all the better! It’s an investment in your career.
“If I update my photo I’ll look too old/unattractive/etc.”
This is why you need a professional photographer, or at least a well-planned amateur shoot as described above. Good lighting and the right facial expression can do wonders.
And it’s not about being gorgeous or handsome. We can all think of people we know who aren’t fashion-model attractive, yet we like looking at them because of the way their character shines through – qualities like warmth, intelligence and humor. Get a photo that radiates a good personality, and people will have positive responses to your face.
“I have a photo but it’s too light/too dark/needs cropping, etc.”
Don’t let this stop you. I myself am no technical or graphics wiz, to put it mildly, but I find the iPhoto software that came with my Mac pretty easy to use. You might want to start with an Internet search for “online photo editing.” There are free applications. Or maybe you have a friend who’s good at this sort of thing?
My final word of advice: Just do it. Stop putting off dealing with this essential element of your LinkedIn profile – and of your overall online presence.
Once that great photo is there it will serve you well for a long time. It may well play a part in helping you get a new job!