It’s a basic minimum requirement for most any professional to have a LinkedIn profile with a decent profile picture. LinkedIn research estimates that simply adding a picture makes your profile 14 times more likely to be viewed.
Of course, allowing viewers to attach a face to a name makes your profile more compelling and memorable. Furthermore, a good picture lets you promote your professional brand.
You don’t need a professional headshot or fancy photography. But your picture must be professional, not distracting. And it must convey credibility and friendliness, portraying you as someone who can do the job and whom others want to work with.
Here are 5 simple tips to get an effective profile pic.
Keep It Current
If your picture is more than 2 years old (and that’s pushing it), it’s time for a new one. Your picture should be an accurate representation of how you would look walking into an interview today (not in 2010).
Show Your Face
You want your profile picture to appear open, trustworthy, competent, and well put-together. That means looking straight at the camera lens (not to the side) with a real smile—one that shows some teeth and creates wrinkles around your eyes.
Abigail Marshall, a professional headshot photographer and one of RedRocketResume’s Rocket Writers, recommends taking a leaf from Amy Cuddy’s research on the power of positive body language. Make sure your shoulders are up and back and that your head is not tilted to one side or too far back.
Dress to Impress
You don’t have to look like a supermodel, but you should dress to impress, just as would for a job interview. Wear a simple top consistent with your career level. Avoid busy prints or patterns that don’t read well visually. Keep hair, makeup, and jewelry simple.
Find a Neutral Background
If you’re in the outdoor recreation industry, a photo from a mountain peak may be appropriate because it furthers your professional brand. For most of us, a blank wall or foliage is best. Avoid objects, other people, etc. in the background.
When you pose for your picture, make sure the sun is shining towards you (not towards the camera). Ask your photographer/friend to snap several shots. Then you can choose the one with the most natural expression.
Once you upload your picture to LinkedIn, use LinkedIn’s tools to perform simple edits. Crop so your face is centered within the circular frame and your eyes are in the top quadrant. This tends to happen naturally when you crop to the typical from-the-shoulders-up headshot.
Adjust and tilt the image so your two eyes are on a horizontal plane. (A straightforward gaze presents best.)
You may also want to check out LinkedIn’s filters and tools for adjusting contrast, brightness, and saturation. Sometimes a little tweak is all it take to turn an okay headshot into a great one.
Check out more tips from LinkedIn regarding profile pictures here.