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Your LinkedIn Profile Picture Maybe Killing Your Job Prospects

Your LinkedIn Profile Picture Maybe Killing Your Job Prospects

I don’t really consider myself an HR person. I like to think I’m a practical technologist. However, I do occasionally attend HR related training. Yesterday was one such occasion and inevitably, I had a shock.

The discussion moved from hiring techniques, to LinkedIn photos. Many of the folks in the room would agree with us that LinkedIn photos should be professional. No argument. But someone told us a story that made us cringe. And if you are in HR, you may cringe as well.

This recruiter was working with a candidate, who had hired her to position him for a job. He had a fabulous resume. Literally, she had trouble finding anything to change. But then she took one look at his LinkedIn profile photo.

The guy looked like an axe murder. She said, “No wonder he wasn’t getting any interviews, despite his killer credentials, no pun intended”.

So he retook his photo, and I kid you not, within a week, he had several opportunities arise.

(Lets just ignore the more frightening social implications of that for now, and accept the fact that your photo makes a big impact).

So I ask you, does your photo strive too hard to be what you think professional is supposed to be?

Or are you using it as an opportunity to convey personality?

I’m not a photographer, but I would like to offer some profile photo tips.

  1. Don’t be afraid to show personality. You can have personality and be professional at the same time.
  2. Experiment with action shots. There isn’t a lot of room, but the more you can demonstrate YOU in action the better. Can you fit yourself giving a presentation in the photo, shaking hands, or even leaning on a hand?
  3. Play with the negative space. You notice the first photo in this post has uniform negative space around the guy’s head. The second photo is visually more interesting. He accomplished this by turning his body and tilting his head.
  4. Smile and think inviting thoughts.

That’s my armature photography advice. If you have some more ideas, please share them in the comments below.

Joshua Waldman
Portland, OR
Owner, Trainer, Speaker, Author, Career Enlightenment
Career/Life Coaching

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  1. Since last few years what a shameful act by all this companies. They are ignoring the candidate on the bases of picture. totally racist or what??? Seems companies are looking profile pictures and sometime fake profile and hire the people. They don’t bother about people skill or knowledge???
    They just want a cartoon with a good profile picture and good profile. Feels like company looking for a good guy and talents were lost in a gutter..
    What companies were doing when there were no linked or facebook exists??? This generation is totally useless.. Any XYZ people can put good picture and get hired and really qualified and talented people were just lost !!!

  2. Michelle Gilstrap

    Yes, if your photo is not profession, then what are you saying about yourself.

  3. We definitely live in a looks based society. Therefore people interpret your personality through your appreciate.

  4. I agree that people need to make sure they have good photos on LinkedIn (and other sites they use professionally). I wrote a blog about it (See One Picture is Worth… on SATURDAY, AUGUST 14, 2010 on

    With the proliferation of excellent cameras, I think people can have a friend or colleague who is expert at photography take a head shot for online use.

    But, no matter what, I agree that people need to put up a photo.

    Nowadays, hiring companies (and others such as potential clients) will search for ALL of your images. So even if you don’t have a photo posted on LinkedIn, there is likely one of you somewhere else…so, do yourself a favor and post one on LinkedIn.

    Take control of your image and know what is out there.

  5. This why I do not have a photo at all. No matter what you look like, someone will be judging you on it and applying superficial judgements against you. Not to mention the rampant racism, sexism, and other prejudices in the USA. No photo on LinkedIn for me thanks.

  6. First impressions are extremely important – and for someone apply for a job, their picture is the first impression. It’s a small detail but can have a HUGE impact. Great article!

  7. Professional photographers call it an “environmental photo”. It is designed to catch a professional in their work environment. The photo is a head shot but it captures the background of the work environment, personality and professionalism. A fresh take on the profile shot.

  8. Let’s also face facts. Posting a picture that suggests your age or implies that you are older than you look is also the bane of a candidate’s existence. I don’t worry about that any more.

  9. I need to agree, as ‘shallow’ as it may seem, when hiring for our customer service employees, I place 90% weight on how someone looks before I even call them for an interview.

  10. Great tips! While 90% of getting the job requires good experience and the right attitude, the other 10% relies on whether or not you look the part. Do you look trustworthy, credible, calm?

  11. A photo flying a World War II Warbird conveys confidence, traditional values, command ability and fearlessness. LOL.

  12. Mark Anthony Dyson

    I agree. A pic is the first impression, and possibly the last impression, if the WRONG impression is given.

  13. Good advice. Trying to cut corners by not making a little investment in a professional looking picture is a foolish investment, as the story illustrates.

  14. Ronald Earl Wilsher

    Couldn’t agree more, Mr. J.

    We’ve all heard the old saying, “A picture is worth a thousand words” and it’s so true.

    Thanks for the shareage, Sir.

    Gooooood day! :-)

  15. When you’re looking for employment online, it only makes sense to have a professional looking profile pic. What is sad though is that a ‘perfect’ candidate could be passed over based on their looks.

  16. Picture first, then grammar.

    “Maybe” >> “May Be” – there’s no maybe about it.

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