If you don’t exist on social media, you might not exist, people say. The same is true for LinkedIn and the business world.
Actually, LinkedIn is the most popular professional networking platform and, according to Statista’s data from January 2022, the fourth of the most popular social media platforms for business. So, it’s not surprising that in the digital native world, people turn there when looking for a job. Right now, it connects over 875 million members from 200 countries, helps 8 people find work every minute, and offers profiles of over 58 million companies.
Sounds impressive, right?
But what can you do to stand out? Besides writing an excellent profile summary and using the right keywords, there’s one more thing to consider: a LinkedIn profile picture. The latest study of Passport-Photo.Online has shown that images play a significant role on this platform. Since 82% of LinkedIn professionals agree we should not judge a book by its cover, a whopping 71% admit they rejected a candidate because of their LinkedIn profile picture at least once, despite proper job qualifications.
Almost 4 out of 10 do it regularly. However, the same study also explored what leaders and HR professionals prefer to see on LinkedIn profile pictures, the most alarming red flags and how to improve your headshot to make it more attractive to recruiters.
5 tips and tricks that will help you maximize your LinkedIn job search.
Professionalism is Key
A significant majority of 87% of respondents consider picture professionalism to be crucial when evaluating profile pictures. A profile picture is what makes your first impression. Recruiters, even unconsciously, make assumptions about you when they see your headshot for the first time. When your picture looks professional, it immediately creates a severe impression and adds credibility to your image. You show yourself as reliable and trustworthy. How to achieve this result? Check some tips for portraying a professional image:
- Wear business attire. In the business world, changing from a T-shirt to a smart shirt really makes a difference
- Take care of the proper background. Don’t allow it to be messy or attention-grabbing. In any case, try some free online tools for removing the background.
- Consider hiring a professional photographer. A short business photo session won’t cost you an arm and a leg but will provide you with excellent pictures for years
- Take your headshot in your work environment. Whether it’s the office or coffee shop, showing your working place in the background will make someone immediately link you with this place.
Authenticity is Crucial
Authenticity was deemed crucial by 65% of the respondents, with the fourth most common mistake in profile pictures being a lack of personality.
In the virtual realm, we lack the opportunity to meet people face-to-face and get a sense of their real selves. Authenticity is crucial in online interactions: it demonstrates that you’re open and willing to connect on a deeper level. It also gives people a glimpse into your personality, helping to establish trust and build stronger relationships.
There are several ways to express this trait in your LinkedIn photo. First of all: smile. Smiling is a universal icebreaking and inviting gesture that makes you seem friendly. Speaking of gestures and a body – choose a convenient pose. It’ll help you stay more relaxed during photo shooting and result in a better outcome. The next thing – showcase your personal flair! You can use your profile picture to showcase your personality and interests. For example, if you love the outdoors, consider taking a photo outside or incorporating natural elements. My last piece of advice here is to avoid heavy filters. While filters can be fun, using too many can make your photo appear over-edited and artificial. Stick to natural filters or minimal editing.
To wrap it up: remember to be true to yourself and let your personality shine through.
Avoid Vacation Photos
Nearly half (49%) of LinkedIn HR pros, managers, and business owners see vacation photos as a red flag. At first glance, vacation pictures seem to be an excellent choice because they show off your real self and add a splash of color to your profile. In reality, they pose many challenges.
This kind of photo often shows the entire body posture rather than just the face, making it difficult to recognize you. Additionally, vacation clothes are usually very different from what you would wear in a business environment, making you look unprofessional and out of place on a business-oriented platform like LinkedIn. But perhaps the biggest issue is that they don’t convey the right message. LinkedIn is all about building your professional brand and showcasing your skills and expertise. A vacation photo might show off your fun-loving side, but it doesn’t do much to demonstrate your professional competencies.
However, there is a trick to make your vacation pictures more appropriate for LinkedIn. Firstly, find a suitable picture of good quality where your face is well visible and where you are recognizable. Then, just cut out the face and remove the background. Voilà!
This trick will help you to turn any photo into a business one.
Avoid Common Mistakes
A complete 75% of LinkedIn professionals rated the lack of a fully visible face as their biggest red flag in LinkedIn profile photos. This result was followed by a low-res picture (67%), an unauthentic image (38%), and a lack of a smile (15%), among other things. Knowledge is power. By knowing what recruiters perceive as warning signals, you can avoid posting a photo that would harm your hiring.
Here are some tips:
- Do not use a company picture instead of a personal one
- Be professional, not casual. You don’t want to make friends but to land a job
- At the same time, don’t forget about smiling. It will win you people in any community
- Ensure excellent image quality
- Ensure that the full face is visible and it’s easy to recognize you
- Again: stay away from vacations and inauthentic images (as described above).
When asked how to optimize the LinkedIn profile picture for maximum impact, a total of 77% of LinkedIn survey respondents pointed out one thing: enhance quality. As mentioned, a low-res picture is a red flag for 67% of LinkedIn recruiters. It’s not without reason. A low-quality or pixelated image looks unprofessional, suggesting you are not serious about your personal brand. Also, it can give the impression that you are not tech-savvy. Both can be distracting and take away from the overall positive image you want to build.
Besides taking a professional photo session to improve the quality of your profile pictures, you can use some tricks to do it on your own. Look for professional photo equipment. You don’t have to spend money on it – just look around and check if any of your friends can lend you a camera for a while. A good camera will automatically increase the quality of your photos. In the absence of a camera, check out your smartphone – nowadays, they also are getting better and better quality.
The second trick is to use good lighting. Adequate lighting can make a significant difference in the quality of a photo. Choose natural light sources such as sunlight or light bulbs with a color temperature of 5000K or higher. Avoid using flash, as it can create harsh shadows. With the help of those tricks, you will take an excellent profile picture with little or no effort.
In today’s world, networking has shifted to the online sphere, meaning your online presence is more important than ever. It can play a key role in whether you will succeed in your ideal career by shaping your professional image. That’s why paying close attention to the photos you use on platforms like LinkedIn is essential. With that in mind, I wish you the best of luck with improving your LinkedIn photo and maximizing your job search!
Karolina Turowska, a writer and travel enthusiast at PhotoAiD.