LinkedIn profile picture errors

smiling man

Flickr/San Sharma

Before anyone reads a single word of your LinkedIn profile, they’ve already formed an opinion about you.

That’s because the first thing recruiters see is your photo, and that can be the difference between someone clicking through to your profile or not.

In a recent LinkedIn positionJames Caan, CEO of Hamilton Bradshaw Group, noted that a LinkedIn profile with a professional photo “can make or break you.”

Whether you’re currently looking for a job or want to nurture professional connections, LinkedIn is a valuable tool for gaining traction in the corporate world. But if you fail to choose a strong photo, your profile will soon be silenced and forgotten.

Here are three major mistakes you could be making that are preventing you from attracting the attention of recruiters:

Don’t have a photo.

The biggest photo mistake LinkedIn users make is not including one. In fact, profiles with photos are seven times more likely to be clicked on than those without, according to Caan.

Not only does a professional-looking photo show recruiters that you’re thorough and driven, it also lets them instantly remember who you are weeks or months after you meet at a networking event. “You’re guaranteed that the recruiter will remember the personal connection you made, and there’s a good chance you’ll get the interview invitation,” Caan says.

Don’t stare at the room.

While a clean shot of the jacket and tie will impress the Wall Street crowd, it might make you look stuffy for a laid-back startup.

Brand yourself based on the specific job you’re looking for and how you want your potential employer to remember you, says Caan. For example, if you work in government, consider including your country’s flag in the background, or if you work in a creative industry, think outside the box, he suggests. If you don’t look for the role, chances are you won’t land an interview.

Not choosing a quality photo.

Always take the time to find a high-quality, professional-looking photo, no matter how creative or offbeat you want the photo to be. Simply removing yourself from an existing image will look pixelated and sloppy. “It shows that you haven’t taken the time to mark yourself properly,” Caan says. “If you can’t take the time to brand yourself, a recruiter may tie this to the fact that you wouldn’t be able to brand the future company your best.”

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