I was recently laid off from my job in corporate America after 12 years of employment. During my time there I built up a fair number of connections on LinkedIn, and I didn't pay much attention to the profile pictures until I started studying photography. I started looking more closely at many of the pictures and considering the potential impact of the profile picture. I started to see how my friends who were dynamic and engaging in person had profile pictures that did not let their awesome show through. I also must admit that my profile picture was not good and did not represent me very well at all.
After all this thought about profile pictures I created a list of things to consider with the profile picture. If you want your awesome to show through keep in mind these rules:
1. Your profile picture should look like you.
This should go without saying since the picture represents you, but old pictures, blurry pictures or dark pictures can cause the image not to look like you. I think of it this way- if someone who contacted me through LInkedIn wanted to meet in a crowded coffee shop, would they be able to identify me based on my profile picture? If the answer is no, then it is time to adjust.
2. Your profile picture should be a picture of you alone
A potential employer will only be interviewing and hiring one person, so keep it simple and only show them one person. Along those lines I also have to mention that cropping the other person in the picture out does not meet these guidelines. There is something engaging about a person making a connection with the camera without connecting with someone else in the picture.
3. Your profile picture needs to have a decent level of photographic quality
This goes back a little to being recognizable. The image quality should be high enough to keep the image from looking pixelated. The lighting should be flattering. The cropping should have balance and hopefully some artistry.
4. Your profile picture should reflect your personal brand
I don't particularly love the buzz word of "personal brand" but it does encompass quite a few things such as your personality, values, skills, connections and the overall concept of "this is why you should hire me for this job." 10 years ago if you were interviewing for a job your first personal impression was when you walked in the door of the interview office, dressed up and ready to smile and connect with the interviewer. Today it is highly likely that your first personal impression is your profile picture. Make sure that the picture you post is the image that makes that first impression really show the best of who you are.
5. Your profile picture should visually fit your industry
When a potential employer is reviewing profile pictures, one of the things they are asking is "will this person fit in our business?" so make sure that what you wear and how you present yourself reflects the kind of place you want to spend your working hours. You can still use the rule of thumb for interviews, which is to dress a level up from what the position would require you to wear, but putting on a suit in your profile when you really want to work in a place where you live in t-shirts and jeans may not help you find your best job match.
I hope this helps you show your best self and make great first impressions.