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Not sure what to do about your LinkedIn photo?

Social Media in Job Search


I know it’s important to have a picture on LinkedIn. Does it have to be a professional picture? I’ve been out of work for a while, and I can’t afford to pay a photographer.


You’re right, it’s very important to have a photo on LinkedIn. Most people remember faces better than names; in case a potential connection has forgotten your name, he might remember your face. If you have no picture, many LinkedIn users will conclude that you don’t know what you’re doing with LinkedIn, or that you’re trying to hide something. Even more crucial: some employers say, “No photo on LinkedIn, no interview.”

If you have a fairly recent photo that was taken by a professional photographer, that would be your best option. But a photo taken by a competent amateur will often work too.

That said, your LinkedIn picture needs to be a head shot, or head and shoulders at most. It needs to be you; not you and your spouse, or you and your dog, a Minion, or the logo of your school or favorite sports team. It absolutely needs not to be Homer Simpson (unless you are Homer Simpson, and you are not.) It should not be you cropped out of a family or group photo. It should be you, looking your professional best.

Watch the background too. A plain color is probably best. You probably don’t want a restaurant background (unless you work there), or racks of wine bottles (unless you work in a vineyard), or anything else that does not support your personal brand.

Other guidelines: no selfies, no pictures in the car, and don’t use your bathroom mirror to take the picture. Be sure it is straight, not skewed 90 degrees.

FCWS has a service called the LinkedIn Coach. After you take the LinkedIn Connection class, you can talk to your Employment and Training Specialist about meeting with the LinkedIn Coach to discuss your profile, and even have a proper LinkedIn photo taken for free.

However you do it, get that photo of you at your professional best on your LinkedIn profile. Help your very fortunate next employer find you!

About the Author

Beth Davis-Reinhold

Beth Davis-Reinhold is an instructor at Frederick County Workforce Services, where she has worked for over 20 years. She teaches job search seminars and basic computer skills. She is a Certified Professional Resume Writer, and is Internet and Computing Core Certified (IC3). Beth has been a member of Toastmasters International for more than 15 years, and is an Advanced Communicator Silver. A graduate of Elizabethtown College in Pennsylvania, Beth has also studied American Sign Language for many years. In addition to many sundry projects for FCWS, Beth writes its “Ask the Career Coach” blog.