The Art of the LinkedIn Profile Picture


The benefits of having a professional headshot should be obvious. But just in case you need more convincing, we have the numbers.

  • LinkedIn users who include a photo receive 21 times more profile views than users who don’t.
  • Profiles with photos are 36 times more likely to receive messages.
  • Users with a professional headshot get 14x more views.

But as the last point suggests, getting your photo right makes a difference. There are two main areas to consider when choosing a LinkedIn profile photo: the quality of the photo and your presentation.

First, your photo needs to be the right size and resolution for LinkedIn. The site requires a minimum size of 400 x 400 pixels. For resolution, 72 dpi is a good starting point. Keep in mind that your image file cannot exceed 8MB.

Once you’ve sorted out the technical part, it’s time to get artistic

Consider the background of your photo. Although you can use a simple white background, colors can make your image stand out and associate you with certain characteristics. For example, orange is often associated with optimism and longevity. You need to make sure your background is not distracting. Make sure there are no other standout characters or unique landmarks vying for attention.

When taking your profile picture, always think about the lighting. Your photo should be clear and well-lit. If your home lighting is dim at night, wait until morning for natural light.

Along with the quality of your photo, your background, and your lighting, the final piece of the puzzle is you.

For a successful LinkedIn photo, consider:

  • Cropping or framing
  • Clothes
  • Makeup or accessories
  • A smile

Most LinkedIn photos are cropped to just below the shoulders, while some include the entire torso. No need for a full body photo, which means you don’t even have to change your pajama pants.

But your top is another story. Be sure to wear a professional shirt. If you have a color that looks good on you, now is the time to wear it. Keep makeup and props to a minimum for this photo shoot, as the focus is on you. Your outfit and clothes say a lot about you. The bottom line is that it’s human nature to judge people on their looks, so make sure you look your best.

Finally, don’t forget to smile. Psychologists have discovered that we form first impressions from an image in just 100 milliseconds. And a smile is one of the easiest ways to appear likeable.

If you can afford to get professional head shots, I highly recommend it. They will come in handy for your professional bio and other social media accounts.

LinkedIn also gives you the option to choose a background image. Consider serving a dual purpose with a photo that not only looks great, but also relates to your brand or service. A real estate agent might showcase a beautiful home, while a designer might include an image of their work. Just make sure it doesn’t distract from your profile picture.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.

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