How important is a photo during the job application process? Some companies specifically request or expect one. Not to mention the fact that employers and recruiters are increasingly using social media sites like LinkedIn to learn about you before any formal interviews are conducted. Which makes the picture you choose all the more important. So what’s the secret to getting a great one? And what should you avoid?
Do I really need one? The short answer is yes, definitely. Why? Whether you are applying for a role or not, your profile picture creates an immediate impression on anyone who checks out your LinkedIn profile. This could include recruiters, colleagues, potential clients and the people you meet at that networking event last week. No photo? You won’t come up as highly on a recruiter’s LinkedIn search, and new contacts may need a face to put with a name to help remember you. It’s definitely worth having a great photo attached to your profile.
What makes a great photo?
- Close-ups: the image is going to end up being quite small online, so make it a head and shoulders shot.
- Keep the focus on you: plain, simple backgrounds may not be very exciting, but potential employers are more interested in you than your love of nature / architecture / whatever else might be behind you in the photo.
- Show off the real, friendly, professional you: LinkedIn is a professional networking site, so your profile photo should reflect the version of you that people could expect to see in the office. Dress as though you are attending a job interview, relax, smile genuinely, and you’ve nailed it.
- Well-lit, clear images: It’s worth getting someone else to take this photo of you. Whether that someone else is a professional photographer or not is your call, but either way it will mean you’ll get a non-blurry photo, without your arm in the shot holding up the camera.
What should you avoid?
- Anything unprofessional: if your photo looks like it belongs on Facebook to be viewed only by your friends, it’s not LinkedIn appropriate. This includes pics with your besties from a night out on the town, your partner / pet / child, selfies, duck faces, or anything “funny”. Cartoons – never!
- Photoshop or out-of-date pictures: if your photo doesn’t look like you, or looks fake, potential employers may wonder what else you’re not being up front about. You want to look interview-ready – the interview will not be off to a great start if you rock up looking like a different person to the one in your profile pic.
It’s worth taking the time to get your LinkedIn profile photo right – you never know who could be looking at it!