5 Things That Are Wrong with Your Online Profile Photo

Do you have an online profile with LinkedIn or another networking website? How does your photo look? If it fits one of these descriptions, you need to change it. ASAP.

1. There isn’t one.  In real life, you are not a colorless silhouette.  Why do you present your professional self this way?  Unless you’re a participant in the national witness protection program, you need your mug out there for all the world to see.  “Stealth Networking” is an oxymoron.

 LinkedIn labels this image “ghost_person”

LinkedIn labels this image “ghost_person”

2. The quality is horrible. Hello! This is your professional online calling card we’re talking about. Make this image look like someone that YOU would feel confident doing business with. Cheap, blurry, ill-composed shots imply you don’t care. This is business; you need to care.

 Can you count how many things are wrong with this pic?

Can you count how many things are wrong with this pic?

3. Your dog, friends, and family are in the picture.  Yikes, what were you thinking?  This isn’t Facebook; LinkedIn is a professional website.  Make yourself look professional.  If the norm in your industry is business attire, then wear that.  If you’re in an artistic profession, you can dress and look funky-interesting-artsy.  But leave your vacation pics out of this.

 Do you take your kids to work with you?

Do you take your kids to work with you?

4. Your head is compressed in unnatural ways.  Learn how to correctly size a photo for LinkedIn’s square formatting.  You don’t want to look both scary AND technologically incompetent.

  Was your face compressed in vise? Did you just take off a 2-ton fedora?

Was your face compressed in vise? Did you just take off a 2-ton fedora?

5. Your face is too small or too dark.  Size matters in the world of photography.  So does lighting.  People want to see who they’re doing business with.  Head and shoulders.  Properly illuminated.  Unless you’re a professional weightlifter or stilt-walker, full-body shots are not a good idea.  If you aren't a film noir actor, you’re not permitted to hide in the shadows.

 Bright window in background is really bad idea. Are you driving the co. van? We can’t see you!

Bright window in background is really bad idea. Are you driving the co. van? We can’t see you!

Bottom line: Take the time to get a professional headshot taken. If you’re a poor student or a starving artist, you can certainly barter with a photographer friend. Offer to mow her lawn or edit his website in exchange for a good photo. That way, everyone wins...and looks better in the process!

Alan Headbloom

Alan advises Americans how to be global citizens and expats how to fit in to Michigan culture without annoying their native coworkers and clients. He also tweets and blogs at the intersection of language and culture. Over decades, he's traveled, studied, or lived on six continents, putting strange foods into his mouth and emitting strange sounds from it. His use of English, German, Spanish, Portuguese, French, Swedish, Hausa, and Japanese all improve with alcohol use. He gives invited public presentations on culture and unsolicited private advice on English grammar and usage; the latter isn't always appreciated. Visit his website for information on consulting, coaching, or speaking engagements.