Is Your LinkedIn Photo Telling The Wrong Story?

Raffa Financial ServicesRaffa Financial Services on 07/26/2018

There are a lot of great reasons for you to be on LinkedIn, including:

  • Increased exposure in your industry
  • New professional connections
  • Tons of business-focused articles and advice
  • Enhanced job search capabilities, both for candidates and recruiters

But whatever you’re using LinkedIn for, you need to know one very important thing: Your photo matters.

Like it or not, everyone who comes across your profile is mentally giving you a quick 1 – 5 star professional rating based on what they see. Can we trust you? Do you seem friendly and relatable? Are you someone we want to do business with? 

Use an inappropriate LinkedIn photo and you could very easily sabotage your opportunity to be taken seriously as a potential candidate, vendor, consultant, or partner.   

You know what they say… 

A picture is worth a thousand words. Or, in today’s fast-paced social media world, at least 280 characters.

Is your photo portraying you as the competent professional you are? Or is it telling a different story? Here are some of the most common photo mistakes and what they are saying to the world.

The Party Pic

Using a festive party pic for your LI profile? Confetti? Champagne? Wedding? We’ve seen it.

What it says: “I don’t understand what a professional business photo is. I may have trouble separating business from pleasure. Don’t I look great in a tux?”

How to fix it: If you wouldn’t wear it to work, you shouldn’t be wearing it for your professional networking photo. Get dressed for work, then snap that pic.

The Wardrobe Malfunction

Shorts? Swim suit? Shirtless? Not unless you’re a professional fitness trainer. And maybe not even then.

What it says: “I have trouble determining what is professional. I’m over-confident, or afraid I can’t get by on my skills alone.”

How to fix it: Put on an outfit that feels a little too conservative for you. Then run it by your grandmother. If she says you look neat, spiffy, or dandy, you’re probably good to go. 

The Crowd

Hey! Great photo of you guys on that hike! Or at that conference… But which one is you? It may be obvious on your end, but over here, we’re just confused. 

What it says: “I have friends! People like me! Also, I didn’t consider my audience. I’ve made basic assumptions about what they should already know. But look! Friends!” 

How to fix it: Go solo. Nix the friends, family, kids, and pets. We’re not looking to connect with them. And if we are, you should be worried. 

The Selfie

Close up. Extended Arm. In the mirror. With your laptop cam. On your vacation or in your best suit, it doesn’t matter. We can spot a selfie a mile away.

What it says: “I think you won’t notice I took this myself. I’m too shy or afraid to ask for help.”

How to fix it: Have your picture taken, either professionally or by a friend. It takes five seconds. Less, maybe. And it makes a world of difference.

The Car Selfie

This is a very popular photo tactic, and also a confusing one. Unless you own a car dealership or drive for a living, this seems strange. 

What it says: “I feel safe in small, confined environments. My camera fits nicely on my dashboard. I’m sitting in my driveway.”

How to fix it: Super easy! Come out from behind the wheel. Take a photo at your desk, outside, or in any other professional environment.

The Photo Fail

Bad crop. Grainy. Blurry. Sideways. Upside down.

What it says: “I’m not capable with basic technologies. I don’t check my work. I hate LinkedIn, anyway. Don’t connect with me." 

How to fix it: Always check to see what your picture looks like after you upload. If it looks questionable, start over. Unless you really do hate LinkedIn, in which case this is the perfect way to let us know.

The Grump

The stern face. The steely eyes. The angry expression. Yikes!

What it says: “People need to take me seriously, darn it! I’m rigid, cranky, and hard to work with. This is not a laughing matter.”

How to fix it: We will still respect you if you smile. Promise! Relax. Lean back. Drop the shoulders. Show us your pearly whites. Or at least stop grimacing.

The classic

Using a flattering photo from a past decade? Or millennium? This works great! Until we meet, that is. Please don’t be offended if I don’t recognize you from your senior portrait. 

What it says: “I’m unhappy with who or where I am now. I prefer to live in the past. I’m not a fan of change.”

How to fix it: Meditate. Exercise. Do some self-affirmations. Whatever you need to get comfortable in your own skin. You’ve worked hard to get where you are. Upload a current photo and own it.

They empty frame

No profile photo? Really? In this day and age, when literally everyone is carrying a camera around with them at all times? Unless you’re the invisible man, this is unacceptable. Get ready to be passed by. 

What it says: “You don’t need to know what I look like. I don’t understand social media. Why are you looking at my profile, anyway? Are you with some secret spy organization? Go away!”

How to fix it: It’s as easy as it sounds. Just add one. The longer you go without a profile picture, the more opportunities you’re missing. Connection is all about trust. And it’s hard to build trust with someone who hides their identity.

What does your photo say?

Is it telling the story you want it to? Having a professional headshot attached to your LinkedIn profile can go a long way toward showing that you’re friendly, capable, and approachable.

You know. Like the kind of person you’d want to work with.



Need help with performance management, employee turnover, and HR strategy? Want to be a coveted employer of choice in the greater Maryland, Virginia and Washington, DC area? Get in touch with Raffa. We love this stuff! And it’s what we do for our clients every single day.


Photo by Martin Novak 

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