Your LinkedIn Profile Picture May Be 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 agreed that LinkedIn photos should be professional. No argument there. But someone told us a story that made us all 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. She had trouble finding anything to change in his material — but then she took a look at his LinkedIn profile photo.

The guy looked like an axe murderer. 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.

(Let’s 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 look like?

Or are you using it as an opportunity to convey your 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 YOURSELF in action the better. Can you fit yourself giving a presentation into 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 amateur photography advice. If you have some more ideas, please share them in the comments below.

Joshua Waldman, Founder and CEO of Cinta Media Group, helps businesses turn their struggling social media campaigns into winning lead generation strategies. He also blogs on his popular career blog Career Enlightenment where you’ll find a free video training which will change your job search forever. He lives in Portland, OR with his wife and daughter where they enjoy the great northwestern outdoors.

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