This article originally published January 4, 2015.
LinkedIn doesn’t play when it comes to professional profile pics and neither should you. If you upload a pic to your profile that isn’t actually of you or isn’t even a headshot, LinkedIn reserves the right to yank it. (Newsflash: There’s no way Hello Kitty’s your doppelganger, m’kay.) Seriously screw up your photo three times and -- stee-rike! -- you’re out. You’ll be banned from uploading your mug ever again. No joke.
In my opinion, LinkedIn doesn’t ax awful profile pics enough. Sloppy, cheesy, awkward snaps. Egregiously immature, unprofessional lemme-take-a-selfie-style pics that cut it no problem on Instagram, Tinder or Facebook. Here's a friendly reminder, particularly for the 39 million students and recent college grads lurking on LinkedIn: It’s not for Man Crush Monday, not for swiping right and not for stalking your 8th grade crush.
The 313 million-plus member site is for professional networking, specifically with past and present colleagues, hiring managers, potential clients and investors, and other hopefully business-related contacts. That said, your headshot should be professional. In other words, safe. Appealing to a wide audience. Even a little vanilla.
So, if you want to put your best professional game face forward on LinkedIn -- and you do, don’t you? -- don’t be guilty of committing these common (and often comical) profile pic sins:
1. The selfie in the mirror pic.
Just please, save your smug, snapped-in-the-bathroom mirror head-to-toe selfies for Facebook. They make you look like an amateur on LinkedIn, even if you look like a boss in your hipster Hugo Boss slim fit suit, or so you think. Come on, by now you should know that selfies of any kind are way too casual for LinkedIn. #wrongplatform
2. The freaky filter overkill pic.
Chill with the funky filters already. Actually, don’t use them at all, not on LinkedIn. Potential employers and clients want to size you up straight up, just as you are, not all uber-emo. In Instagram speak: The "Earlybird" that skips the "Sutro" is more likely to get the worm, dig?
3. The 'I'm so serious I hate life' pic.
Never post a profile pic that makes you look incredibly intense, Dwight Schrute-serious or, worst of all, pissed off. There are enough mug shot-worthy frowner-downers littering LinkedIn already. Instead, post a happy (but not too I-just-won-the-lottery happy) headshot that shows off what Richard Branson calls your “ competitive advantage,” your smile. Go on, let your pearly whites shine.
With a nice, relaxed smile on your face, you generally come off as more approachable and trustworthy, someone a potential employer (or investor or business partner) might be more willing to give a chance. As Psychology Today puts it, “there’s magic in your smile.” It’s scientifically proven. Use it to your advantage.
4. The beyond blurry pic.
No one should have to squint to make you out. Familiarize yourself with how to use Photoshop’s “Sharpening” tool. Or, if your headshot is too fuzzy or pixelated to fix, use a different, clearer pic. Focus, people. This is pretty basic stuff.
5. The full-body action pic.
I’m not going to name names (I’m not that mean), but a LinkedIn user I maybe, kind of, sort of might be connected with is half-squatting, half-lunging in her profile pic. In a baggy T-shirt and Spandex leggings. On a cracked cement driveway. Yep, like a cat-like Crossfit ninja warrior about to pounce... just after this quick yoga pose, k? Granted she’s a black belt and a personal trainer (who, er, could easily choke me out tonight in karate class and just might if she reads this), but squatting? On LinkedIn? Really? Just no.
Let’s just stick with vanilla headshots, shall we? They’re more appropriate for the venue. Full body shots, awkwardly posed or not, pack too much weird factor, a vibe you probably don’t want to give off, at least not professionally. Not unless you’re an actual ninja.
6. The 'Say hello to my kitty' pic.
Here’s an easy rule to remember: Unless you’re a vet, please don’t pose with your pet. As much as you adore Count Fluffy McFlufferton, I’m sorry, he’s not LinkedIn profile material. You are. Just you. Save your furball’s whisker-licious glamour shots for Tag a Cat, the new Tinder for cats.
7. The 'Oops, I cropped my shot' pic.
Technically, you’re more than just a face. You’re a person. A whole person with brains in your head, feet in your shoes and you can post any LinkedIn profile pic you choose. That is, we hope, except for one that oddly crops off the top of your head or the bottom of your chin. Or your ears. You get the full picture. Show your face, your whole face and nothing but your face. Or so help you job, the one you could have gotten (or kept) because you looked the part on LinkedIn.
8. The default LinkedIn silhouette pic.
On top of looking a bit clueless -- and like someone who lacks the confidence to back their good name with their face -- you’ll miss out on a bunch of profile views if you choose not to upload a photo at all. If you do post a pic of yourself, LinkedIn says people are seven times more likely to click on your profile. So do yourself a solid and just say no to LinkedIn’s creepy two-tone, “male silhouette” default pic. Blech.