How to Choose the Perfect LinkedIn Profile Photo

Fact: Your profile is 14 times more likely to be viewed if it includes your picture. But is it better if that photo is black and white or in color? A full-body shot or zoomed in? Top pros give us a quick snapshot of how to pick (or take) the right picture.

Photo by Hero Images/Getty Images
  • DO: Keep It Simple
    The ideal photo is clear, well-lit, and free of any distractions, says LinkedIn’s career expert Catherine Fisher. If your current shot has a busy background or includes the arm of a cropped-out friend, replace it with a more streamlined photo that frames your face.
  • DON’T: Use an Oldie But Goodie
    “One of the biggest mistakes people make is putting up a photo that doesn’t look like them,” says body language expert Lillian Glass, Ph.D. Consider whether a potential employer would unfailingly recognize you from your picture if you met in person: If you’re in doubt, swap it out for a more recent one.
  • DO: Dress for Your Industry
    Your profile photo is part of your professional “brand,” so the image is more impactful if what you’re wearing is representative of the way others in your field typically dress. If you’re, say, an investment banker, a fitted suit or sheath dress is better than a tunic and jeans; alternatively, if you work at a digital ad agency where casual attire is the norm, a photo of you in a bridesmaids’ dress at your friend’s wedding—no matter how flattering—is going to water down the career-oriented message you want to send.
  • DON’T: Mess Around With Filters
    According to a study conducted by PhotoFeeler, a platform that allows users to have their potential profile photos rated by others, “moderation is key” when editing your picture. If your photo is dark and you want to brighten it up a little bit, fine—but if you go overboard and oversaturate the color, the picture may end up looking fake, which can detract from your likability.
  • DO: Offer a Smile
    It’s the most impactful characteristic of your profile picture, the PhotoFeeler study also found. Without a smile, you can come off as cold and aloof. What’s more, a smile that shows your teeth makes you seem friendlier than a closed one. One exception to the rule: “If you generally never smile in photos, avoid choosing a profile picture with one,” says Fisher. “Chances are you’ll look awkward, which is worse than not giving a smile.”

For more career advice, see our expert tips for interviewing. Or how to make the most of your LinkedIn profile.