LinkedIn Profile Photos: A reflection on yourself and your employer

LinkedIn Profile Photos: A reflection on yourself and your employer

Social media has dominated the landscape over the past couple of years and as our online lives become more documented, we should remember to apply our life filters to our online lives. Now, I won’t get into what you should or should not do on Facebook, Tumblr, Pinterest, or any of the arguably more “social” sites. But, LinkedIn is a professional networking site, and I’d like to suggest you think of some simple rules of thumb when selecting an avatar photo.

  • As in many instances in life, there is a time and place for everything. Some photos are best left off of Linked In profiles.
  • If you have to think, should I use that photo, then the answer is “NO”.

LinkedIn has more than “50 million+ members in its professional network” which encourages users to “manage (their) professional identity.”  There is a lot of information that should be considered in LinkedIn’s statement.  The most important is that “YOU” manage your profile and that it is a “PROFESSIONAL” network.

When considering a photo for LinkedIn, ask yourself the following:

  • Is the photo recent?
  • Are you the focus of the photo?
  • Is it really a photo?  logo, cartoon, avatar, etc.
  • Is the photo distracting?  background, posed, not really you





For many, your LinkedIn photo is your first impression.  Ask yourself, “If I was meeting this person for the first time as a professional, how would I appear?”  For many, LinkedIn is the first step in the interview process – whether you know it or not.

We have all seen photos that cause you to think “really?”, and I suppose it is an occupational hazard in our field.  But, if we get through misspelled job titles and summary statements, we are still left scratching our heads and strange or inappropriate “professional” profile photos.

Let’s look at some examples. Note that I have aimed for t middle of the road examples. There are better and worse for each category. For illustration purposes, I purposely chose only photos from the recruiting industry. Arguably, each of these photos was purposefully selected by individuals who know the importance of first impressions.

First, the “good”.


Well-balanced  and Composed,
Professional and Natural
Well-balanced  and Composed,
Professional and Natural


The photos below are playing on the margins of good.  They are not perfect but they could be better.  And what do you know; they are from the “Staffing Industry”



Forced Smile with a lot of

Not facing the camera


And now for the bad:



Nothing screams first impression like a
purchased stock photo.

This adorable photo is perfect for
Facebook. And, while Linked In does
connect a person to all of his college
friends, the Linked In profile photo is
not the place to show your newborn
ready to jump in to all your old school
fun.  Save this photo for Facebook.


The awkward and inappropriate
workout outfit, begs the question: is this
the most professional photo she has?

Is it time to leave for the CLUB, as
shown in this overly-posed Facebook-
ready glamour shot.  I can name a few
dozen technical folks who wouldn’t be
inspired to take a call after seeing that
the technical recruiter screening them
chose this as her avatar.


Not only is this not a photo, it is an
Avatar with anger and aggression
issues. Potentially acceptable for a
hardcore gamer, all others should
quash the urge to go with the large
angry frog.

The Logo Avatar is just perplexing for
a person (as opposed to a company)
The viewer’s first thought, is “is this
even a real person?”  While there was
a name and a profile, but the photo
and the title make this suspicious.

Take a look at your own photo, and ask others for their impressions as well. Remember that the person looking at your profile may want to hire from you, buy from you, or join your company. No photo may be better than what you’ve chosen. Why not update now?

Bill Marshall About the author