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Oh No They Didn’t! LinkedIn Avatars Gone Wrong

Oh No They Didn’t! LinkedIn Avatars Gone Wrong

Some days I scan through my LinkedIn search results and am simply amazed at the choices some folks make when selecting their profile picture / avatar.  LinkedIn is, after all, a professional networking site used for business purposes, right?  And unlike Facebook, you only get ONE picture to sum you up to the outside world, so that one photo becomes a very important part of your professional brand.

Whether you’re job seeking, networking to grow your business or just using LinkedIn to stay in touch with former coworkers, it’s important to choose a photo that exudes professionalism and is appropriate for a business forum like LinkedIn.  This isn’t Facebook, Twitter or…  It’s LinkedIn and it’s externally viewable to a very wide audience.  A picture’s worth a thousand words, right?  So what does YOUR profile picture say about you?

While it’s all in good fun and everyone’s obviously entitled to pick whichever avatar they like, here are some examples of the classic mistakes that I see most often:

1.  Too Many People

A profile pic should contain one person and one person only… you.  If you include a group, we’re left to guess which one is you and since the box is so small, we can’t really see anyone in the group anyway.  How does this group really represent YOU as a business professional?

2.  Too Sexy

LinkedIn isn’t the place to bare your cleavage, pouty lips or hulking biceps.  Please cover up and show us that you have the good judgment to save those pics for other forums!  :)

3.  Too Juvenile

It’s good to be young at heart, but what message does a cartoon convey to your audience?  Are you coming across as a mature, capable, professional individual?  If you only get one picture to sum you up to the LinkedIn world, is this one really the best choice?

4.  Too Schticky

It’s cool that you’re a big fan of Quentin Tarantino movies, espresso or rugby, but your LinkedIn avatar probably isn’t the best place to share that with the world… Better to leave that stuff for Facebook.

5.  Too Staged

Okay, for real?  These shots always make me grin and cringe at the same time.  How can we take you seriously when you obviously take yourself a little TOO seriously?!  :)  Relax and just take a nice, professional headshot… lose the props and the posing.  We don’t want to picture you posing for your LinkedIn pic at the local Glamour Shots in the mall! ;)

6.  Too Random

I’m not too sure what these photos say about the individuals they supposedly represent, but I don’t think they’re saying much.  Think about your online brand and select a photo that supports that brand.  Your avatar should represent you, not just be a random bumper sticker…

7.  Too Personal

It’s okay to be a family man, love your wife/dog/cat, or have a baby who just celebrated a birthday.  But these shots are really best left for Facebook or your personal Twitter account, not your LinkedIn profile.

8.  Too Showy

It’s great that you just got that new Mercedes, yacht, Rolex, etc.  But showing it off on your LinkedIn avatar is sending the wrong message!  Show us evidence of your success via the business accomplishments and work history in your LinkedIn profile, not by flaunting material items in your avatar…

9.  Too Small

Your profile photo box is only one square inch, so be sure to crop correctly and/or choose a photo that we can actually see.  Full body shots just don’t work in this case…  I’m sure you’ve got good stuff in your pic, but if it’s too small to see, then it’s not serving its purpose!

10.  Too Spammy

If your avatar looks like an advertisement, then you may want to rethink your choice.  ‘Nuff said.

11.  Too Bizarre

Not too sure what to make of these…  ;)

San Diego, CA, United States Most Connected Woman on LinkedIn ~ Blogging about Social Media, Recruiting, Networking and Job Search Tips & Tricks… Pay It Forward!

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  1. These are great tips! Keeping it real and professional!

  2. Good article. That’s what i was trying to keep in mind when selecting my picture.

  3. Very funny!!! So surprised that so many people don’t think about what they are posting!

  4. Wow, Stacy. I can’t believe that some of these are real. In my world, I subscribe to the “a little common sense goes a long way” theory. I guess these folks are not familiar with that term.

  5. I agree with Stacy’s comments. I would also like to add that the lady has a winning smile and sparkling eyes. The woman really does walk her talk…and it definitely shows.

  6. When seeking to get hired you must be professional or you will be just wasting your time. I’m sure if you use Resumebear there will be little chance of not being professional.

  7. Well done! It’s good to show up staff like this! Well made point!

  8. Most people use the same picture on all sites so that people can see at a glance that you are the same person they followed on Twitter or Facebook. But if you are going to do that you should make sure the photo showcases you in a way that is appropriate for Linked In, where you need to present a more professional image.

  9. Professional is as professional does.

  10. I thoroughly enjoyed looking at the pictures. I never really thought about it before, but you are right, how you present yourself on LinkedIn is different from other social media.

    Actually, I use the same pic on all of my sites because I want to brand my image and if it is “off the wall” or different in each location then I loose a lot of advantages to become known and remembered.

  11. There’s an old saying “What you see is what you get” but sometimes you get more than you bargained for. How you project your image really affects how you are perceived so it pays to choose wisely.

  12. This is hysterical and so right on! Same goes for profile pictures on Branchout! BranchOut is the largest professional networking service on Facebook. BranchOut users leverage their Facebook friend network to find jobs, source sales leads, recruit talent, and foster relationships with professional contacts. BranchOut also operates the largest job board on Facebook with over 3 million jobs and 20,000 internships.

    While unlocking the power of your network, BranchOut creates a safe environment to utilize your network by only showing your name, profile picture, work history, and education. By only using this information, BranchOut eliminates the possibility of employers or recruiters seeing private pictures (phew), posts or other information, thus keeping your private life on Facebook and your professional profile on BranchOut.

    I loved this article, make me laugh! Check out BranchOut and please let me know if you have any questions. Have a great weekend.


  13. Another awesome blog. Things most of us never think about and boy oh boy do we make mistakes. Now I know what not to do.

  14. Wow – some people don’t think things through! Simple, easy article to remind people to take as much care with their avatar as they do with the content they post.

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