LinkedIn is an important tool in your job search. But you might be neglecting the most important part of your LinkedIn profile: your photo. If you have any doubt, consider if you were a hiring manager deciding between two equally qualified candidates. One candidate has no profile picture on LinkedIn, or even worse, an unprofessional picture, (such as the one shown below). The other candidate has a professional photo. Which candidate would you choose?

HeadshotCredit: By SmirkinChuckler (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

By SmirkinChuckler (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

Need more reasons? In a study conducted by The Ladders, an eye tracking heat map showed that recruiters spent 19 percent of the total time they spent on your profile looking at your picture[1]. Current job and education got some attention, but skills, specialties or earlier work experiences, not so much. Finally, LinkedIn reports that search results with photos are 7 times more likely to be clicked than entries without photos. Without a professional photo, you are at a serious disadvantage. 

Attraction to Faces

Everyone likes to look at faces. We like to think we can tell something about a person from their picture (even if not always true). Sometimes, though, a photo is revealing. If you are applying for a job that requires awareness of social media and good presentation skills  (which is almost all jobs) and you have a grainy, low quality photo, then one might infer that (1) you lack basic computer skills or (2) you don’t care about appearances. Either way, this is not a good look, so to speak. 

Photos Aid Recognition

LinkedIn is about networking, which is much easier to do when people can recognize you from you photo.  This is especially important if you have a common name that generates hundreds of LinkedIn search results.

Photos Provide Credibility

When a recruiter is looking at your profile, they want to know you are real. A photo does not prove this, but it helps.

Taking a Good Photo

Follow these guidelines to take a good profile photo:

  • The background should not distract. It should use neutral calm colors (consider using a narrow depth of field, so that the background is out of focus).
  • Most studies show that the ideal shot includes shoulders and the head. Don’t show only the face.
  • The photo should include only you, not you and your spouse, or you and your pet.
  • Don’t use an existing group photo and crop people out of the photo. It never works, trust me.
  • Don’t hide your eyes with dark glasses or sunglasses.
  • Smile naturally.
  • Dress in a professional way that is consistent with the type of work that you do (or want to do).
  • Use a recent photo.
  • Avoid the need for a flash. Use natural light.

Finding a Professional Photographer

A professional photographer might charge $100-200 for a LinkedIn profile picture. But you can probably get it done for less than that if you find part-time photographers or amateurs who can do this work on the side.