7 Things You Should Know Before You Pick Your LinkedIn Photo

By Beth Leslie

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LinkedIn is fast becoming ubiquitous. Over 20 million Brits use it, and 94% of recruiters vet candidates through it.   

But if you want to make the most of LinkedIn’s potential, there’s one very important element you can’t neglect: the photo. Having a profile photo results in 21x more profile views and 36x more messages. But when appearances matter and judgements about a person are made in milliseconds, you better make sure that your photo conveys the right message to any recruiter, client or hiring manager who looks you up!


1) B-I-G Smile!

You might think you’re conveying seriousness and professionalism with your solemn expression, but in reality you just look grumpy. Human beings are psychologically programmed to see smiles as highly positive gestures. Also, research indicates that smiling with your teeth showing makes you appear twice as likeable as someone who smiles closed-mouth.


2) Get Ready For Your (Not-Too) Close Up

Never use a full body photo on LinkedIn – it makes you seem less competent and influential. But don’t pull in too close. A head and shoulder shot is perfect, but an extreme close-up will turn viewer off. You know those people that get far too close to your personal space? It’s like a virtual version of that.


3) Be A Colourful Character

Fun fact: when we make our initial assessment of how we feel about something, it takes just 90 seconds to decide, and we based 62-90% of our judgement on its colour. Colours matter – they can increase and decrease our appetite, enhance our mood and calm us down, among much else. So if you want your profile to leave recruiters hungry for more, you better think about the primary colours on show!

For your outfit, go blue - almost a quarter of hiring managers picked blue as the best colour to wear to a job interview. Apparently, it conveys the sense you’re a team player. Other “professional” colours are black (leadership), grey (analytical) and brown (dependable). Trying for a creative industry? Green, yellow, purple and orange are the colours for you, although be careful with the latter – 25% of hiring managers consider it unprofessional.   


4) It’s Not Black and White

Black and white photos may look artistic, but when surveyed, 39% of people preferred colour to black and white. Artists and CEOs can get away with it, but if you’re just starting out on your career you run the risk of appearing pretentious.


5) Don’t Blend Into The Background

Your LinkedIn profile is all about you, and therefore a fussy or busy background is an unwelcome distraction from your gorgeous face! Stick to plain background wherever possible. Most professionals suggest that white is the best bet. Not only will you stand out clearest against a white background, it screams professional and there’s no chances of colour clashes with your outfit! Alternatively, executives at Moz reckon bright backgrounds work well, with red backgrounds corresponding to a 35% jump in views.


6) Look Me In The Eye

Body language is important. The worst body language mistake job applicants make? Not making sufficient eye contact, according to 67% of employers. This lesson applies to your LinkedIn photo too – if you’re not looking directly into the camera, or if you’ve hidden your eyes behind sunglasses, you will come across as less trustworthy and reliable.

Interestingly, experts also recommend that you have a slight squint in your photo (good news for chronic blinkers!) Apparently large eyes are so associated with vulnerability and uncertainty that narrowing your eyes makes you seem more comfortable and confident. Try to keep it the right side of Evil Supervillain though. 


7) It’s All About Brand You  

Ultimately, your LinkedIn profile is about selling yourself. Think about the type of industry you are aiming to work for and what sort of personal brand you want to project. If you’re a highly corporate executive, wear a suit in your photo. If you’re a freelance designer for artsy companies, alter your outfit to fit that style.

Always keep it professional, but most importantly, keep it personalised.  



Beth Leslie writes graduate careers advice for Inspiring Interns, a graduate recruitment agency specialising in matching candidates to their dream internship. Check out their graduate jobs London listings for roles, or if you’re looking to hire an intern, have a look at their innovative Video CVs.


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