5 Tips to Create a Professional LinkedIn Profile Picture

By DeVry University

There's no doubt that LinkedIn is a popular tool for connecting job searchers with prospective employers. In fact, 95% of recruiters use LinkedIn to find job candidates. But before you walk away from your freshly-polished profile, don’t forget to spend a little time on one of the most important components – your profile picture.

You may assume your photo is nowhere near as significant as your credentials, but it's actually one of the key aspects of a stand-out LinkedIn profile. Before perusing your résumé and recommendations, searchers will typically view your photo for a first – and lasting – impression.

Given its importance, here are 5 LinkedIn profile picture tips to help you put your best foot – and face – forward:

1. Smile.

A genuine smile makes a striking first impression. Katherine Hansen, Ph.D., Creative Director and Associate Publisher of Quintessential Careers, states, "A smile is the best way to show how much you want the job. A warm smile is especially important when you first meet your interviewer."

The qualities of your photo should showcase how you'll perform in a job interview. Your smile should project a relaxed confidence and enthusiasm for the position you're applying for – potentially encouraging recruiters to reach out. DeVry University Career Coach Paula Voigt doesn’t hesitate when asked how to create your best LinkedIn profile picture: "Smile! Studies show that profiles with smiling pictures are more likely to get noticed."

2. Look Directly Into The Camera.

Looking directly into the camera lens mimics eye contact, which, along with smiling, is crucial during an interview. A recent study on hireability in job interviews found that "the two main facial behaviors sought by employers in the interview of the applicant were smiling and eye contact."

3. Learn From The Pros.

As you do when refining any career skill, look to industry influencers and successful professionals for presentation tips. DeVry University Senior Career Advisor Susanne Galvin says: "I suggest doing some research. Look up profiles of professionals in your field and check out their photos. What works? What doesn't work?"

Observing their wardrobe choices and setting is also important. "Be sure to dress as if you are ready for work or about to walk into an interview. Have a warm smile and stand in front of a plain background," Galvin adds.

4. Avoid Selfies.

The circular photo field for a LinkedIn profile picture doesn't offer much surface area, so capturing the most strategic angle and framing may take a few attempts. If you aren't looking to invest in headshots with a professional photographer, simply enlist the help of a friend or family member.

"Avoid selfies – LinkedIn is not Facebook, Instagram or Snapchat," says DeVry University Senior Career Advisor Maurice Breaux. "It is a professional platform where people go to explore positions, source talent and share content. Everything you do must speak to your professional brand."

Aim for a close-up photo, framing the shot from the shoulders up. And to get that genuine, welcoming smile? Spend a few minutes chatting with your photographer. Sharing a few stories or laughs is an easy way to help ease the potential uneasiness of having your photo taken.

5. Get Objective Feedback.

Seeing ourselves objectively isn't always easy. DeVry University Senior Career Advisor Shannon Rutherford says "Don't be afraid to seek input. Ask a few supportive friends or colleagues which profile picture reflects the most authentic version of yourself." Objective, reliable opinions will help you narrow down your pool of photos to those that let your true personality shine through.

Most importantly, have fun with it! Job searches can be stressful – taking your LinkedIn profile picture shouldn’t be. The more you enjoy the process, the better your chances of capturing the confidence and welcoming smile that many recruiters are searing for.

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