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

Your LinkedIn Profile Picture - A Complete Guide

Joel Mason
LinkedIn

Your LinkedIn Profile Picture - A Complete Guide

Joel Mason • Nov 02, 2022

Boost your job search & career with a great LinkedIn profile picture

If you update your LinkedIn profile picture you can dramatically increase the number of visits you receive.

LinkedIn states that your profile is 14X more likely to be viewed if you have a LinkedIn profile picture.

Conversely, if you have a bad LinkedIn profile picture or no profile picture at all, it can negatively affect your career.

Coming up

This article is a complete guide to your LinkedIn profile picture.

If you follow the tips outlined below, you'll receive more profile views, and LinkedIn profile views are good for your career.

This is simply because the more people that see your LinkedIn profile, the more chance you have of being offered a great career opportunity.

We'll cover the following:

  • Why you should update your LinkedIn profile picture
  • The anatomy of a great LinkedIn profile picture
  • Examples of great LinkedIn profile picture
  • Correct LinkedIn profile picture dimensions
  • How to change your LinkedIn profile picture
  • Examples of bad LinkedIn profile picture

Make sure your LinkedIn profile is fully complete and fully optimized

Before we go any further, I want to point out how important it is to fully complete your LinkedIn profile.

Including your LinkedIn profile picture, there are 10 essential components to an optimised LinkedIn profile.

If you download our free guide below, you'll be guided through the entire process of creating an effective LinkedIn page.

Why should you update your LinkedIn profile picture?

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 clients.

Basically, the people that you need to reach in order to boost your career.

As a former International Recruiter, I know how important it is to have a great LinkedIn profile.

I headhunted many great professionals for fantastic career opportunities using LinkedIn.

You need to maximise all that LinkedIn has to offer. To do this you need to set up your LinkedIn profile in a way that engages with the right people.

Your LinkedIn picture is your first connection point with someone

Before they even meet you, your LinkedIn profile picture provides an idea of what you are like as a person.

It can reveal a little about 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.

Do I look like someone who you would want as a colleague, or does it send the opposite message?

The anatomy of a great LinkedIn profile picture

‍So, what makes a great LinkedIn profile picture?

That's a great question! Let's explore 7 secrets to a great LinkedIn profile picture.

1. Make your profile picture all about you

Your personal LinkedIn profile should be all about you. You're creating it to tell the professional world just how great you are.

This might seem pretty obvious to you.

I'm always amazed, however, by the number of group photos I see on LinkedIn.


Rule number one:

Your LinkedIn picture should be all about you. Not your team, your mom or your friends.

This means you should ideally have an individual shot taken just for this purpose.

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

Think about how you 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.

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 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.

An example of a great LinkedIn profile picture
You should take up 60% of your LinkedIn profile picture

2. Dress appropriately

What should you wear in your LinkedIn profile picture?

The clothes that you wear in your LinkedIn profile picture should ideally be the clothes that you wear to work.

This way, people looking at your profile picture will get an idea of you as the person you are in the office.


Rule number two:

Wear clothes that reflect the position you have or the position you are aiming for.

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

If you are looking to make a career change, consider what people would wear to work in your target industry.

Upload 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 LinkedIn 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.

An example of a professional LinkedIn profile picture
Dress in your work attire for your LinkedIn Profile Picture

3. Express yourself

You are not a corporate robot or drone. You are an individual who has a lot to bring to an organisation.

Remember this when you take and select your new LinkedIn profile picture!

Rule number three:

Let your personality shine through...just the right amount.

Your LinkedIn profile picture should be engaging, it should show people what you're like as an individual.

Consider the personal brand you want to create online. Your LinkedIn profile picture should complement and strengthen that brand image.

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

But, if you work in a laid-back and relaxed environment don't be afraid to let your picture reflect this.

Don’t be afraid to let the real you come through in your profile picture.

Remember, even if you are a very serious and professional person, a genuine smile is a great way to engage with your audience.

A smile is a surefire way of making you appear approachable.

4. Limit background noise

Nothing in your profile picture should distract from you, you are the star of the show.

This means you'll need to limit the background noise from the image. I'll share two ways that you can do this.

Rule number four:

Don't let anything steal your thunder, you're the star of the show!

There are two simple ways to make sure your face grabs people's attention, rather than the fairground ride in the background.


1. Take your picture against a blank wall

This approach is obvious and simple, however, with this approach you are limited by the colour of the walls in your house or office!

There is another way that allows you to be more creative with the background of your LinkedIn profile picture.


2. Use a background removal tool to remove the background of your image

You can then replace the original background with anything you want.

A LinkedIn profile picture example
Use Canva.com to remove the background

5. Begin with good lighting

All great shots begin and end with good lighting. This is no less true of your LinkedIn profile picture.

Taking some time to get the lighting right will dramatically improve the look of your picture.


Rule number five:

Flood your face with natural light. The best lighting for taking your LinkedIn profile picture is always 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.

6. Get creative

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.


Rule number six:

Don't be boring, but also don't go crazy!

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.

You can also add a coloured ring around your picture to help it stand out.

7. Ask someone to take your LinkedIn profile shot for you

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.


Rule number seven:

No selfies, absolutely no selfies!

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, 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!

What size should your LinkedIn profile picture be?

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.

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

What size is a linkedin profile pic
LinkedIn profile picture sizes for 2022

How to change 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 to 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
How to change your LinkedIn profile picture - step one

Step two:

Click on 'add photo'

How to change your LinkedIn profile picture
How to change your LinkedIn profile picture - step two

Step three: 

Click on 'upload photo'

Changing your LinkedIn profile picture
How to change your LinkedIn profile picture - step three

Step four: 

Locate your chosen LinkedIn profile picture from your files

LinkedIn profile picture
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 in
How to change your LinkedIn profile picture - step five
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Bad LinkedIn profile picture examples

We've talked about the anatomy of a good LinkedIn profile picture. Now let's look at the kind of picture you should avoid!

The selfie

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.

A bad LinkedIn Profile Picture

The passport photo

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.

A bad LinkedIn Profile Picture example

The group photo

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!

A bad LinkedIn Profile Picture o

The unprofessional photo

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.

A bad LinkedIn Profile Picture that's unprofessional

The distant photo

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.

A bad LinkedIn Profile Picture that's hard to see

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?

Check out our LinkedIn Optimisation Service.

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