Finlay James

The LinkedIn Perception – Part 1: Profile Pictures

The LinkedIn Perception – Part 1: Profile Pictures

First interviews… what would you take with you? Would you turn up with your pets? Perhaps take your children or friends? Would you wear a football shirt? Or maybe take some food and an alcoholic drink?

Now, I’m not for one minute saying that I don’t like any of the above however none of them are relevant when you’re trying to make a good first impression on a future employer. We now live in a world where we can access pretty much anything in a number of seconds and the majority of hiring manager’s first move, when they are introduced to a candidate, will be to look them up on LinkedIn, creating their very first impression of a candidate.

“You never get a second chance to make a good first impression” ….. Will Rogers

I’ve listed below what I feel are the five keys guidelines to follow when selecting your profile picture and ultimately making your first impression to future employers, clients and business partners. 

1 – Look professional

All LinkedIn profiles should be used in a business capacity so it is vital that we look professional and portray a professional manner at all times. My advice would be to wear a smart suit or formal business attire.  Different industries can carry with them different styles and levels of professional attire, therefore, providing you are in line with the expectation of your profession, you should have no issues.

2 – Appear approachable

A dark photograph, a shadow on your face, hidden underneath a big hat… I would suggest that none of those would represent the most approachable of people. Happy people with full faces showing are much more approachable, considered more trustworthy and convey positive vibes.

3 – It’s ‘your’ profile

What I mean by this is that LinkedIn is a social media page designed to represent you and your attributes. My suggestion would be to use an individual headshot displaying your head and shoulders in the frame, not too close to the camera and not too far away. This is important so that those viewing your profile can get a good look at your confident professional manner.  Including others in your picture can very often lead to confusion, so it’s probably best to leave the group pictures to Facebook.

4 – No selfies

Over the last few years due to social media and further advancing mobile technology we have seen the popular phase of the ‘selfie’ come to life. Although the Instagram and Facebook worlds have grown into selfie communities I would suggest that LinkedIn is not the appropriate place for selfies. They tend to be of lower quality, lack professionalism and most seem to be unaware of the backgrounds behind them; a nightclub toilet is far from a great first impression! For more about selfies and LinkedIn, read my colleague’s – Sarah Socha – blog.

5 – Up to date

Finally I would suggest your picture should have been taken with in the last 12 months and is regularly updated. Recent trends such as growing facial hair and changing your hair colour on a regular basis requires pictures to be updated. When you decide to let go of those long students locks, make sure your picture does to.

All of the above are purely suggestions based on my personal and professional experience working with sales talent within the IT industry.

Like this blog? Keep an eye out for the next in my LinkedIn series.