How to Take and Choose a Professional Photo for LinkedIn

Tips for Picking a Perfect LinkedIn Profile Photo

professional business woman
Copyright Hemant Mehta/Getty Images

Your photo is a very important part of your LinkedIn profile for a number of reasons. When you meet a LinkedIn contact in person for the first time, they will be able to recognize you because of your photo.

When you send a LinkedIn invitation to connect with someone you already know, they will feel comfortable accepting the invitation because they recognize your face. Finally, a photograph humanizes your profile and makes you appear more approachable.

Uploading a quality photo into your LinkedIn profile will help you make the right impression and maximize the number of people who view your profile.

Here are tips on how to take a professional photo and how to select the best one:

Pick the Right Photographer. If you can afford it, a  professional photographer can make it easier to get that perfect headshot. However, you don't need to go to the expense of hiring a professional. Simply ask a friend or family member (who knows how to handle a camera) to take several shots of you. Select someone who can make you smile in a natural way. A warm, friendly smile will make you look accessible, and encourage others to engage with you. Have the photographer (and a few other friends, if possible) look at the photos and ask them for their feedback. 

If no one is available to take your photo, you can always take a web shot of yourself using your computer’s camera (if you have one).

However, do not take a photo yourself using your phone or a handheld camera. It's nearly impossible to have a selfie appear professional.

Pick a Head Shot. Because profile photos appear as small thumbnails on LinkedIn, your photo should only be of your head, neck, and possibly the top of your shoulders.

If you include your entire body, your head will appear too small, and viewers may not be able to recognize you.

Dress Professionally. Because LinkedIn is a professional career and business platform, make sure that your photo depicts you in a manner appropriate for your field. Typically this means a dress shirt for men, dress or blazer for women, or a suit. Choose solid dark colors like blue or black. Avoid white; it can make you appear washed out, and red does not translate well online. Avoid wearing a strapless dress or top which will make you appear naked or anything too revealing. The key word is professional. 

Dressing professionally also means avoiding the use of too much makeup or jewelry and distracting hairstyles.

Keep it Simple. Your photo should be of you, and only you. Do not include objects, pets, or children. Avoid busy backgrounds. It's best to stand against a solid-colored, light background.

Select a Current Photo. Do not include a dated photo no matter how young and attractive you look. Use a current picture so people aren’t surprised when they meet you in person.

Be Consistent. When developing your professional online brand, consistency is key. Therefore, it is a good idea to use the same photo for all your professional and social networking profile pictures.

This will make you more easily recognizable.