There is a truthful saying that states, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy.” Basically, a friend who truly cares about you will be honest enough to tell you the truth about something that is wrong or needs fixing, even if it hurts a little, and then will help you resolve it. I want to be that friend to you and say that [some] of you really need help with your LinkedIn profile photos. And, I am here to help.

As a photographer, I have taken numerous headshots of professionals to use for their LinkedIn profile photo (my headshot page). It is great to be able to provide a boost of confidence to someone in order to help them succeed in their career journey and help improve their brand image. And, whether you realize it or not, your profile photo represents a brand: You!

So, why do you need a professional headshot photo anyway? Why can’t you just use an avatar? First of all, and as I just stated, your photo represents your professional brand. Unless your brand is an avatar, you probably shouldn’t use that. Plus, companies hire people, not avatars.

Second, your LinkedIn profile is not considered complete (by the LinkedIn algorithms) without having a profile photo. An incomplete LinkedIn profile will only hold you back when it comes to search results and overall exposure. Incomplete profiles end up much lower on search results than complete profiles.

Think of it this way: If a car you are trying to sell only has three wheels and the other cars being sold have four wheels, which vehicle has the better chance at being viewed and sold? In the same way, an incomplete LinkedIn profile is like offering a three-wheeled car.

Finally, it is proven that those who have a professional profile photo have 21x more profile views than those who do not use a photo. On LinkedIn, and within a job search, it’s all about networking and exposure. If you’ve really got the skills and talent that employers want, why wouldn’t you do all that you can in order to attain the most proactive exposure? Again, your brand identity is at stake here.

Okay, maybe you already have a headshot profile photo. However, is it really the best photo to use? The old adage is true, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” Do you know that your LinkedIn profile headshot photo speaks? But, does it speak well, as in “Hire me”? Or, does it speak in an unfavorable light, as in “Fire me”?

If your profile photo is blurry, distracting, distorted, and/or confusing, I want to encourage you to invest in a new headshot photo.

Just take a few minutes and scroll through LinkedIn people suggestions and you will find a plethora of photos that, um, speak, but not in the best of light. Here are just a few LinkedIn profile photo examples that I found over the years that showcase what not to do (with no ill-intent meant to anyone):

Your LinkedIn profile photo and your headline are the “front door” to which potential employers will either desire to open and read further (increasing your opportunities for potential employment), or quickly shut and bypass for somebody else. So, for potential employers, does your “front door” state “Welcome home” or does it scream “Run and hide!”?

Sure, you may have a ton of experience, sought-after skills, and an incredible track record of results, all showcased in your front entryway. However, if your “door” is never opened, all of that great and valuable content will never be seen.

I want to give you a few tangible things to think about and consider (and hopefully implement) in order that your LinkedIn profile photo will help get employers to open your front door.

First, and probably the most important starting point, hear me when I say that LinkedIn is NOT Facebook or Instagram! Can I get an “Amen”?

Look, it’s great that you have a photo of you and your family…or you and a dodge ball…or even you and a dead bear, but save those photos for Facebook or Instagram. LinkedIn is a [professional] business platform that focuses on professional business networking in order for you to find a new professional-level job. Therefore, please keep your profile photo looking, you guessed it, professional!

Second, dress for professional success. Now, I know that there is a wide range of thought on what is or is not acceptable these days in regards to business/professional attire; far too layered to get into all of it in this article. Keeping it simple, I would encourage you to look your best that will fit into the career field and organization that you are hoping to get into. After all, this is the initial snapshot that a potential employer will get of you and you probably don’t want to look like a wrinkled mess who just fell out of bed.

Again, what is the message that you want your [professional] LinkedIn headshot photo to speak, especially as a first impression?

Next, keep your profile photo free of any distractions. Remember, this photo is about you, not your vacation or a distracting background in your home. I am trying to help you save face here.

Speaking of your face, when taking your photo, focus on showing your full head in a well-lit setting. You don’t want your photo so close to your face that people can see your nostril hairs! Nor do you want a photo that is so dark that some might wonder if you are in a witness protection program.

Finally, invest in your personal brand by investing in your profile headshot photo. I happen to know a guy who would love to help you (or your organization) with professional, high-quality headshot photos (shameless plug). And yes, I am taking bookings right now. You can do that here.

I hope that I have given you some things to think about. I would love to be the missing Link[edIn] element that you utilize in order to help elevate your brand: You!

Will Hoyler

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