How to choose the perfect LinkedIn profile picture. The image is of many professional LinkedIn profile pictures

How To Choose The Perfect LinkedIn Profile Picture in 10 Steps

Joel Mason
LinkedIn

How To Choose The Perfect LinkedIn Profile Picture in 10 Steps

Joel Mason • Apr 14, 2022

The Perfect LinkedIn Profile Picture in 10 Simple Steps

One of the essential secrets to an effective LinkedIn profile is your LinkedIn profile picture.

As far as I’m concerned, an effective LinkedIn profile is one that gets the attention of recruiters, hiring managers or potential customers and clients, basically the people that you want to reach.

To maximise all that LinkedIn has to offer, you need to set up your LinkedIn profile in a way that helps you engage with the right people and form positive professional connections.

After all, LinkedIn is a professional network, there is a reason that millions of people use it and you need to keep those reasons in mind when choosing the right LinkedIn profile picture.

If you're not convinced that LinkedIn can help you unlock your career or your business, check out the stats below, they are pretty compelling.

Find the most recent figures here.

How to choose a great LinkedIn profile picture, LinkedIn has over 800 million members
LinkedIn's reach in 2022 is undeniable

With 4 people getting hired through LinkedIn every minute, it's worth investing in creating a great LinkedIn profile!

Coming up

I’m going to walk you through 10 simple steps that will result in you choosing a great LinkedIn profile picture, and hopefully getting many more profile views.

I promise you, a great LinkedIn profile picture really does make a difference if you want recruiters, hiring managers and potential clients to engage with you on LinkedIn.

Does your LinkedIn profile picture really make a difference?

In a word, absolutely!

The LinkedIn corporation states that your LinkedIn profile is 14X more likely to be viewed if you have a profile picture as opposed to leaving it blank.

Your LinkedIn profile picture is your first connection point with someone. Before they even meet you, your picture will give them an idea of what you are like as a person, your personality and your disposition.

As humans, we instinctively draw conclusions based on a person’s appearance, body language and facial expression.

Some researchers even estimate that 60 – 70% of what we communicate is nonverbal.  If this is true, your LinkedIn profile picture reveals a lot about you.

Before anyone even reads your headline, about section, or for that matter, even clicks on your profile, they will already have looked at your picture and subconsciously drawn conclusions.

Ask yourself, what does my profile picture say about me? Does it portray me as approachable, open to connections, professional, confident, friendly, someone who you would want as a colleague, or does it send the opposite message?

We know LinkedIn profile pictures

We spent many years recruiting in Dubai and now spend our days helping career changers and professionals from all over the world set up and optimise their LinkedIn profiles for success.

Needless to say, we have looked at tens of thousands of LinkedIn profile pictures.

As recruiters, we developed a sense of what kinds of profile pictures connected and which had the opposite effect.

As job search coaches and LinkedIn specialists we have refined the art of helping even the most camera-shy find and upload a great LinkedIn profile picture.

10 steps to a perfect LinkedIn profile picture

With 810M members, standing out on LinkedIn is not easy, the following 10 steps will help you on your way to creating a superstar profile!

A map representing LinkedIn's membership globaly
A lot of people could see your LinkedIn profile picture

1. Avoid a bad LinkedIn profile picture

This may sound obvious, but one of the reasons that so many people don't have a great LinkedIn profile picture is because they can't see what's wrong with the one they have.

Here are some of the common examples that you should avoid.

• The selfie LinkedIn profile picture

This type of photo might be acceptable on Instagram but it has no place on LinkedIn.

Remember your audience, you are connecting and engaging with other professionals who are developing their personal brands as market leaders in their industry.

• The passport photo LinkedIn profile picture

Too many people take a picture of their passport or other form of ID photo and upload it to LinkedIn. Don’t do this!

ID photos are generic and are designed not to stand out. You’re not allowed to smile in your ID photo, and they are not a good reflection of you as a person.

What’s more, it gives the impression that you have made little effort on your LinkedIn profile and have very little imagination and personality.

• Group photo LinkedIn profile picture

Don’t add a group photo or crop yourself out of a group photo.

This never looks good. The sole subject of your profile picture should be you, it’s all about you!

• Unprofessional LinkedIn profile picture

A picture taken on a night out, or at a social event, can again seem out of place on LinkedIn. You should be especially cautious of using a photo with a drink in your hand. The only exception would be if you work in the entertainment industry. However, always err on the side of caution as you don’t know who is checking out your profile and you want to make sure you’re sending the right message.

• The distant LinkedIn profile picture

You should not be so far away in the photo that you can barely be seen.

The idea of your LinkedIn profile picture is to engage with people so they need to clearly see your face.

2. Make your LinkedIn profile picture all about you

Not only should you avoid the group photo, as mentioned above, you should also make sure that you are clearly the subject of the photo.

How would you want to come across when walking into an interview or business meeting? You would want to engage and make an instant connection.

Your LinkedIn profile picture gives you the opportunity to do this on a large scale. A photo where you are so far away that we can’t see your face is a missed opportunity. It sends the impression that you are elusive and unapproachable.

Generally speaking, you should aim for your face to take up around 60% of the frame. Try cropping your picture from just below your shoulders leaving some space right above your head.

Your picture should also look like you, and not the you from 15 years ago.

Whilst we may like to think that we look the same as we did 10 years ago, we don’t, and people will notice the difference when they meet you in person.

Consider updating your LinkedIn profile picture from time to time, for example, if you get a new hairstyle, upload a new picture, keep things up to date and fresh.

You should take up 60% of your LinkedIn profile picture

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3. How to dress for your LinkedIn profile picture

The clothes that you wear in your LinkedIn profile picture should ideally be the clothes that you would typically wear to work. (Not what you wore to work during lockdown, however!)

This way, people looking at your profile picture will get an idea of the culture of your office and business.

Hiring managers or HR teams looking at your profile picture will also get an idea of whether or not you would be a good cultural fit for their business.

If you are looking for a job, it’s worth uploading a new LinkedIn profile picture in which you are dressed for the role you want and the business you want to work for.

If the company has a formal, corporate atmosphere make sure you reflect that in your picture by not dressing too casually.

If you are applying for a role in a startup with a more relaxed and informal environment, take a picture where you are not in formal wear.

Try looking at the profile pictures of the people who are currently working in the company or department for which you are applying.

How are they dressed? How is the hiring manager dressed? Try to show that you are a good fit for the team or organisation.

Typically, block colours work better on camera than patterns, however, you should try some different outfits to see what works best.

Dress in your work attire for your LinkedIn Profile Picture

4. Express yourself

Your profile picture is likely to be someone’s first impression of you and your opportunity to express something of your personality.

It will also say a lot about your personal brand, your picture should complement and strengthen your brand.

If you work in a very serious, corporate environment, your expression should not distract from it or run contrary to this.

Don’t be afraid to let the real you come through in your profile picture, and remember, even if you are a very serious and professional person, a genuine smile is a great way to engage with your audience, to make you approachable and to put them at ease.

5. Get some help

This leads me on nicely to this next point, if you want a really great LinkedIn profile picture, you should consider getting some help.

It’s really difficult to take a good picture of yourself and this is something that you want to get right.

Hiring a professional photographer is ideal if you have the budget for it. A good professional photographer will have the skill to make you feel at ease, strike the right pose, get the right lighting (which I’ll take about later), and get you smiling.

If you are not in the position to splash the cash on a professional shoot, don’t worry, a friend with a good camera or modern phone can be a great alternative.

Choose someone who puts you at ease, has the patience and ideally knows how to take a good picture!

6. Limit background noise

When you have found a friend or booked a professional to help you, make sure you choose the right location.

The less distractions the better, avoid anything that would take the attention away from your face and avoid backgrounds that look ugly or uninspiring.

This doesn’t mean you need to have a plain white background; you can still be creative.

Many people are opting for block colour backgrounds these days, it’s a good way of making your profile picture stand out as people scroll through their feeds or search results.

I’ll talk more about how you can achieve more creative effects in point nine.

7. Get your lighting right

The best lighting for taking your LinkedIn profile picture is soft natural light.

Lighting makes a huge difference to how we look in photographs, camera flashes can make your skin shiny and a lack of lighting can leave the image underexposed or leave unflattering shadows on your face.

Ideally try taking the picture outside at a time of day when the sun is not too bright, or on a cloudy day.

You can also try standing in front of a window, allowing for some natural sunlight to illuminate your face. Don’t stand with the window at your back however, as this will leave you looking like a silhouette.

8. Select the right size for your LinkedIn profile picture

Your LinkedIn profile picture should ideally be 400 x 400 pixels. Whilst you can go larger, the maximum size is 8MB.

The mistake that you want to avoid here is choosing an image size that’s too small as this will result in a blurry profile picture once it’s uploaded, and that’s less than ideal!

If your image looks out of focus or blurry once uploaded, check that you have sized it correctly.

LinkedIn profile picture sizes for 2022

9. Get creative with your LinkedIn profile picture

I should say, get creative within moderation. Don’t get carried away with filters and Instagram-worthy effects, LinkedIn is after all a professional platform.

That being said, there are things that you can do to make your profile picture stand out in the sea of images.

Block background colours are one way of standing out and this can be achieved by uploading a picture into Canva or photoshop and using the background remover effect. Other websites also provide this effect for free.

Once the background has been removed, a block colour can be inserted in its place, and you can even add a border. Something that looks tasteful whilst helping you to stand out.

Use a design tool like Canva to remove your background and replace with a block colour

10. How to upload your LinkedIn profile picture

Now that you have done the hard work it’s time to upload your new LinkedIn profile picture.

Let's have a look at how you change your profile picture on LinkedIn.

Step One: Navigate to your LinkedIn profile and click on your current LinkedIn profile picture

How to change your LinkedIn profile picture - step one

Step Two: Click on 'add photo'

How to change your LinkedIn profile picture - step two

Step Three: Click on 'upload photo'

How to change your LinkedIn profile picture - step three

Step Four: Locate your chosen LinkedIn profile picture from your files

How to change your LinkedIn profile picture - step four

Step Five: Edit your next LinkedIn profile picture until you are happy with it, then hit 'save photo'

How to change your LinkedIn profile picture - step five

Conclusion

Uploading a great LinkedIn profile picture is absolutely worth the effort.

LinkedIn is a growing professional platform, if you create a fully optimised profile you could potentially be found by hundreds of recruiters, hiring managers, new clients and professional connections.

Creating and cultivating your online personal brand has never been more important, and you can begin right now by uploading the right profile picture.

Need help with your LinkedIn profile picture?

Check out our LinkedIn Optimisation Service.

You can also download our comprehensive guide to creating a LinkedIn profile that will take you step-by-step through the entire process of building your LinkedIn from the ground up.