Before the final semester of my college career began, I took the advice of one of my professors to set up a LinkedIn account. Unlike a few of my peers who started a race to see who could gain more connections and used LinkedIn similarly to a personal Facebook account, I knew this was one of the first impressions I would make on my future employer.
Not many seniors in college have a professional headshot, but I knew that I could not post a picture of myself that included anything “unprofessional.” I found a photo that featured a solid color background and one that was not a “selfie.” I began adding my internships and relevant work experience to my LinkedIn profile and I was ready for the world to check me out… in a professional sense.
I have been in the workforce for a few years now, and I have seen a great deal of LinkedIn photos that would instantly have me eliminating a potential hire. I have come up with a few rules that can help you avoid this reaction that you may not even realize you are causing.
“Selfies” never win. I’ve never seen a photo taken by the subject that turns out well. The person is usually in an awkward position, either leaning down to make it into the frame of a built-in computer or an arm is visible in the photo.
Photos from personal events. I like to keep my personal life and my professional life separate and this goes for my profile pictures as well. I understand that as a new parent you are beaming from ear-to-ear, but please leave your baby out of the picture. The same goes for your professional wedding photos that cost a fortune, keep the wedding photos for your personal photo books.
Outdated or unrecognizable photos. Nothing is worse than knowing that a colleague is using a LinkedIn profile photo that is from five, 10 or even 15 years ago. We’ve all gained weight and wrinkles, but posting an old photo falls under the deceptive category.
My best advice is to ask around for photographer friends who could quickly get you in front of their backdrop to snap a professional photo. If your search for a photographer comes up without results, put on a solid color button-down shirt or blazer, stand in front of a plain wall and have your colleague or friend take the photo. The first impression is usually on the Internet these days so make it a good one!