Off With Your Head…shot: Worst Profile Photos On LinkedIn

If there’s anything that royally pisses me off it’s useless advice for job seekers. No one wants (or needs) to read one more article about what makes you stand out on LinkedIn.

In my experience, jobseekers go through phases when they’re willing to seek out job search advice. When a job seeker realizes they need to get a job, they start by searching for information about their resume. Most of them find a template then replicate it with the phrasing from a draft your college career counselor wrote. At this point, you just want a job so you hunt, apply and pray. You search for job postings, not job search advice.

Unfortunately, this apply and pray strategy doesn’t drive results. Recruiters who apply their own version – post and pray – get similarly poor results. In this funnel of applications, you’re one of many – not one of a few, and you won’t stand out to anyone unless you’ve somehow submitted a pink resume or made such a glaring error that they’re using you as comic relief.

See, recruiter’s know what sources produce the best resumes and typically, the job posted on some job site that sends 1000 people in the first three hours just isn’t it.

Then, when that doesn’t work, job seekers move into phase 2 where they start asking friends if they know anyone who’s hiring. Ah, networking. A much written about, rarely researched topic. You know, because being a little selfish and talking about yourself takes the least amount of brain power in this entire job search process. In all fairness, this job seeker has tapped into something worthwhile because referrals are a recruiter’s favorite source of hire. With good friends, you’ll have a good job.

But maybe that doesn’t work either. Then, and only then, does the average job seeker move into phase 3 where they start to wonder if something’s wrong.  This is also the phase where they start to digest all the bullshit about standing out on LinkedIn and what not to talk about with a recruiter.

What these job seekers may not realize is that it could be as simple as the digital foot print they have left.  And it all starts with the professional headshot. I’ve seen a disturbing increase in the bad profile photos so today, I’d like to walk you through a few varieties I find explicitly not ok if you ever want to get a job.

LinkedIn Profile Photos You Should Never

  • The one from that wedding where I can tell you’re lit. Drunk professional only works for actors who have already made it.
  • Angry faces. Let’s at least try to make someone believe you’re a nice person.
  • Headshots taken in your bathroom. I can see your toilet and it’s weird.
  • Glamour shots. I’m not sure that actual hub in the mall still exists so I’m not clear how these even exist. Or why the back of your head is illuminated. Or you have more makeup on than Dolly Parton. I have a lot of questions, none of which is “do you want a job?”
  • Pictures of you with your partner, kids or dog. You’re applying to the job, your photo goes in the box.
  • Cartoon characters of any sort, even caricatures. I know you’re not Batman and I don’t want to know about any strange obsessions you have.
  • Photos of you on the phone. It’s cheesy, even if you are in sales. I get it, you make phone calls.
  • If you’re wearing a costume of any sort, including making duck face.
  • You’re in the picture but the camera was about 100 feet away so you take up about a 1×1 pixel.
  • Shirtless photos. This goes for guys or girls.

Ok, now I know recruiter’s take screen shots. Let’s see it. Post the worst LinkedIn photo you’ve ever seen in the comments. Remember, you’re not being mean. We’re educating the youth.

bad linkedin headshot

Job Search Advice recruiting

Kat Kibben View All →

Kat Kibben [they/them] is a keynote speaker, writing expert, and LGBTQIA+ advocate who teaches hiring teams how to write inclusive job postings that will get the right person to apply faster.

Before founding Three Ears Media, Katrina was a CMO, Technical Copywriter, and Managing Editor for leading companies like Monster,, and Randstad Worldwide. With 15+ years of recruitment marketing and training experience, Katrina knows how to turn talented recruiting teams into talented writers who write for people, not about work.

Today, Katrina is frequently featured as an HR and recruiting expert in publications like The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, and Forbes. They’ve been named to numerous lists, including LinkedIn’s Top Voices in Job Search & Careers. When not speaking, writing, or training, you’ll find Katrina traveling the country in their van or spending some much needed downtime with the dogs that inspired the name Three Ears Media.

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