October 25, 2013

Your profile photo is your first impression. It’s unfair, but you are judged immediately based on your profile pic and who you convey yourself to be. Are you fun, serious, professional? Or are you and idiot? Like I said, it’s not fair, but we all do it everyday. And when it comes to your professional profile photos, this is even more important! So, please, make sure you’re using a good photo on your professional social media sites.

I really don’t care what photos you use on your personal accounts. That’s your place to be as you as you want to be. If you want photos of you drunk and showing your underwear to define your profile, you are entitled to do so. But if you use that same photo on your LinkedIn profile, yeah… we’re not gonna be connected.

Think I’m joking. I promise you I’m not. Some of the photos people choose to use on LinkedIn, arguably the most professional of all the social media sites, is actually shocking. But it goes beyond just stupid photos like this. It’s about the quality of the photo, the size of the photo and the type of photo.

And, no, your photo doesn’t have to be some high quality headshot from a high-priced studio. With technology today, you can create an amazing profile with a couple quick shots from your digital camera or smart phone.

When it comes to your business or professional accounts, here are some examples of bad profile photos. And, yes, these are real photos taken directly from LinkedIn.

I understand that you want to reflect your personality in your photos. I totally do too. Your profile pic doesn’t have to be some stuffy, overposed image of you. But it should adhere to these general characteristics:

  • A clear, good quality image
  • Clearly see your face
  • A current photo – it’s not the 80s anymore, let’s use something that represents you today
  • Fit the dimensions of the photo box (every site is different but you can crop to fit)

Remember that your profile photo is your first impression online. Make sure it’s a good impression!

Have you seen some bad profile photos? What was it about them that made you cringe? Let me know in the comments below.

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  1. I can’t agree more about bad profile photos when looking to do business with someone, however, Jenn, not everyone who is on SM networks is wanting to do business through their networks. Many people are using them for more personal reasons, like to keep in touch with family or friends, so they ‘let their hair down’ and have fun with their photos. Isn’t that OK?

    1. Absolutely, Dave. On your personal pages you can do whatever you choose. I have no qualms with goofy photos or even photos of your cat as your profile photo. But when it comes to LinkedIn or other accounts for professional purposes, I think it’s a faux pas. Every one of the examples I pulled for this post came off of LinkedIn. I’m pretty sure we could argue that people aren’t on LinkedIn to stay in touch with family and friends.

  2. I definitely agree with you. I recently had to ask one of our interns to clean up her FB profile since she was “hosting” events for us. I know it was her personal profile, but if she is going to represent the company then some of the pictures needed to go.

    1. Thanks Amy! It does get complicated when we use personal accounts to promote professional messages.

  3. Jenn,
    OMG! This made me literally laugh out loud. I can’t believe some of the pictures people put out there. Not only are some unprofessional, but completely distasteful. I’m in the health and fitness industry and some of these people are almost perverse. Many don’t show their faces, so how do we know if that’s their body or not? Some exercise clothing is smaller than some bathing suits I’ve seen. I just don’t get it. Thanks for sharing this, I totally agree and glad someone put it out there. Lisa

    1. Lol! Thanks Lisa! I’m so glad you found it entertaining 🙂
      It is shocking what people will use as their profile photos. I hadn’t even thought of the example you just mentioned where fitness “experts” use images that don’t show their faces. That is just ridiculous. But really, anyone using a profile photo that doesn’t show their face is just plain stupid. And I wholeheartedly agree with you about the minimal clothing. No matter what industry you’re in, your profile photo should be a professional representation of you and your brand.
      Thanks for joining the conversation and adding your thoughts!

  4. A former work colleague of mine was a prime example. A really good guy and very good at what he does, but he also is heavily into weights training. That in itself is fine, but not when your linkedin profile pic is a mirror selfie of you flexing your guns. Needless to say it was a bit of a joke among colleagues, and although I didn’t partake in the sharing and laughing, I could agree it was a poor and unprofessional decision!

    1. It’s unfortunate, but that’s exactly the point. If he was a personal trainer, it might have been more appropriate. But instead, he became “that guy” that everyone talks and jokes about. If you’re using social media in a professional setting, your photo needs to be professional.
      Thanks for joining the conversation with such a great example!

  5. I’ve seen women’s photos that are more like boudoir shots or just downright skanky looking. Those pix have no place on LinkedIn! And in one instance, the person in the skanky shot was looking for an office job.! Yikes!

    1. So true! Twitter and personal Facebook profile photos are a little more open to what types of images people use. But LinkedIn, and any other site for professional use, should always be a professional photo.

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