How To Choose The Right Profile Picture For LinkedIn

Dating apps are breeding grounds for exaggeration. More clearly put, lying. I can’t tell you how many times I walked into a bar and saw no one I recognized but had 1 person waving at me. One was particularly embarrassing as I sat down next to the person without ever realizing it was them. 

It has been a long time since I was on one of those apps, but it still happens every day thanks to AI. Back then, it wasn’t even the machine causing the chaos. No, it was something I call an “anglie.” I made that term up. An anglie is a selfie taken from very high in the air and far enough away from your face that you look much better than you do when someone is looking at you on a normal day. The higher the camera angle, the more confident I am that this person is not going to look like I expect in real life.

While that strategy might work out for you on your dating profile, sharing photos that don’t look like you at all on LinkedIn may be keeping you from opportunities. 

Bias Begins At The Headshot 

This is the obvious part that most blogs on this topic don’t say out loud: people will be biased against you for how you look. We know that. But here’s the reality. If they’re going to be biased against you based on your appearance, that will happen at the interview if it doesn’t happen during screening. 

In an attempt to avoid that bias, I know it’s tempting to skip the profile picture (or things like degree date) altogether. While a profile picture is not mandatory, it can significantly increase your visibility and ranking on LinkedIn. You’ll get seen by more recruiters if your profile is complete. 

A full eight out of 10 respondents surveyed agree a candidate’s LinkedIn profile picture helps them get to know the person better, and 80% believe it’s an important ranking factor. Why? Consider the recruiter’s user experience. They’re scrolling through hundreds of names that all look the same. If you have a picture and no one else does, you stand out by default. 

What’s A Good Profile Picture?

A great picture starts with lighting. You don’t necessarily need an expensive photoshoot or professional makeup. Just stand in front of a window and take a selfie, facing toward the window. This technique naturally blurs distractions in the background and provides a consistent, well-lit appearance. 

Already have a great picture from a wedding of you with your husband where you don’t look like you had too much fun? Crop out your husband and use that. If you love how you look and would show it to anyone at work without hesitation, that’s a good profile picture. 

Some other things to consider when selecting a LinkedIn headshot : 

  • Smile. There are intensive studies about the effect of smiling at others. Just by smiling, you are more memorable. 
  • Just you. I love that you’re in love. I love your dog. I don’t need to see them in your headshot. Use the header photo. 
  • Use a solid or blurred background. All of the focus should be on you, and a busy background will not allow you to pop. Think a solid color or a pattern like brick. 

Making The Most Of Your Header Photo

The header photo, the large picture across the top of your profile, is another opportunity to make an impression. The best use of this real estate? Provide contact information. You can utilize free templates on a design site like Canva to easily create that unique banner. 

This is where you show your personality and what you’re passionate about. Did you write a book? Love dogs? Have a favorite joke? Go for it. Give the recruiter something to talk to you about during the interview. 

But most importantly, I want to see alternative contact details like your phone number or email address to make it easier for any recruiter to reach out to you. Not everyone is paying for every site or a master at sourcing contact details. Providing your contact information right now makes it easier for the recruiter to follow up. 

Regularly Update Your Profile Picture On LinkedIn

Then, set a reminder on your calendar to update both your profile image and your header image once a year, or, at the very least, biannually. Employers should recognize you when you show up to an interview. 

By regularly updating your profile picture and including additional contact information in your header photo, you can signal to LinkedIn that your profile is up to date. Bonus, it’ll even help you increase the chances of attracting potential employers now and in the future. 

Remember, it’s all about making a memorable first impression. Most importantly, one that’s memorable for the right reasons when you want to stand out from the competition in the digital job market.

Job Search Advice Online Strategy and Job Boards social media strategy

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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