After spending hours on LinkedIn, and consulting with people who have hired people at their jobs, we have come up with the dos and don’ts of choosing a LinkedIn profile photo.

So:

  1. Do ask a friend to take a few photos of you. 
  2. Don’t post anything other than your face. Even if you prefer not to post photos of yourself online, it is unprofessional to post a picture of anything else. Things I’ve come across include dramatic photos of roses taken from the internet and pictures of animals with inspirational quotations. If you can’t post your own picture, stick to LinkedIn’s fill-in for no photos or get creative and put up a cartoonized version of yourself.
  3. Do post a photo with a high resolution 
  4. Don’t post your passport photo You LinkedIn profile picture should hint at your personality, and passport photos are as boring as can be.
  5. Do smile naturally Research shows that people negatively perceived both people with serious expressions and people who are laughing in their LinkedIn profile photos. So try to stick to a friendly, genuine smile.

    smily natural how to smile in photos linkedin profile photo get a job

    An example of how not to smile.

  6. Don’t post obvious selfies Even if it’s the most beautiful selfie in the world with the most beautiful filter – no. Save it for snapchat. I’ve seen at least three fresh graduates with their seatbelts visible in their LinkedIn profile photos! You might look friendly and fresh, but you will look juvenile and inexperienced.
  7. Do take photos in natural light Natural light tends to be the most fair to your natural features, so make use of it.
  8. Don’t pout or “prune” This one is obvious, yet I still see it often. Even if you are still a teenager, you want to come across as mature and capable, so stick with a smile.
  9. Do think about your outfit Think of what kind of job you’re hoping to get. If your potential employer is a bank, you should dress differently than if you are in a creative industry.
  10. Don’t make your body the focus Don’t take a full-body picture. Your face should be the focus of the photo. I’ve noticed many young women doing the sideways, hand-on-hip pose. It may be appropriate for Facebook, but for LinkedIn, you want to see a person’s face clearly. On the other hand, if there are any men reading this, stop manspreading in your profile photo – it just says you’re a jerk.
  11. Do take a head-and-shoulder shot This is a good approach. You can be creative with how you’re sitting, but keep your face as the focus.
  12. Don’t use photos where the background is a landmark Don’t make Burj Khalifa the background, unless maybe you’re one of the architects. Landmarks are distracting. Try to keep the backgrounds neutral.

To sum up, all you need to do is make the focus your face, give a friendly smile, and don’t distract from yourself.

Listen to one employer at a large company in Dubai who suggests: “Think about when you’re in a job interview – how would you sit, how would act?”