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What if I told you that your LinkedIn profile picture sucks?

If we are really being honest, most LinkedIn profile pictures suck and look unprofessional. Well, that’s from an observation of LinkedIn profiles I come across in the 2 hours that I spend daily on LinkedIn looking for inspiration and people to follow in my industry.

If you feel that yours meets the standards of a professional profile picture, you can stop reading. But make sure to tell your peers, colleagues, LinkedIn connections, and acquaintances to update theirs.

Here’s the thing with profile pictures that most people miss, uploading a professional picture creates trust and credibility; which increases the chances of connecting with other professionals and employers; because they can put a name to the face.

In South Africa, the usage of LinkedIn has grown tremendously, with the number of users reaching 8 440 000 at the end of 2020; the number accounted for 14.2% of the entire South Africa population. And 87% of recruiters in South African use LinkedIn as a vetting tool, which helps them narrow down the list of potential candidates.

However, some professionals seem to just don’t care and keep using LinkedIn like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Remember… a picture is worth a thousand words and your current profile picture or absence of it, may have cost you your dream job, best client, potential business partner, etc.

If you have read some of my articles, I am sure you would have picked up that I write a lot about personal branding, more especially around being your authentic self. Some might argue that having a profile picture that looks similar to every professional on LinkedIn might seem unauthentic and just too common.

Well, that is true, that’s why this article does not list the do’s and don’ts of the perfect profile picture; but rather just share a few tips to help you appear professional while still being yourself.

Here are 5 tips to help you pick a strong photo and make a great impression.

1. Pick the most recent picture:

We all want to look young forever, but to avoid deceiving people don’t upload a picture you took 10 years ago. Because that might lead to people questioning your credibility. Picking a picture that looks like you, if someone was to meet you tomorrow.

2. Avoid low-resolution images:

If you can’t afford to get your picture taken by a professional photographer, you can still use your smartphone. Some smartphone cameras come with a portrait mode feature, which will be ideal for shooting a profile picture for your LinkedIn profile. But even if your phone camera doesn’t have the special feature it’s best to ensure that the picture you take and upload onto LinkedIn is 400 x 400 pixels to avoid it looking blurry when you upload it.

LinkedIn also suggests that you ensure that your face takes up at least 60% of the frame. If need be, crop the picture to achieve that portrait look photographers would produce using a professional camera.

3. Avoid selfies:

Following on the previous tip about using your smartphone to take your profile picture, it’s best to ask a colleague or friend to take it for you — it will make a huge difference.

Using your front (selfie) camera might lead to a low-resolution image, which should be avoided. Furthermore, getting someone to take the picture for you might help with ensuring that the picture is well framed (your face must take up at least 60% of the frame).

4. Use LinkedIn filters wisely:

According to an article by LinkedIn, there are now six filters that you can apply to your profile picture when you upload it on LinkedIn, each of which will give your photo a slightly different look and feel.

Over and above that, LinkedIn also has features that adjust the brightness, contrast, saturation, and vignette of the photo directly on LinkedIn if you are not keen on using filters.

However, just be careful of the message you would convey when using filters and editing your picture.

5. Be authentic

To stand out from the crowd it’s always best to be your authentic self. And that could mean, wearing what you would wear to work. If it’s a work suit that’s fine if it’s jeans and a T-shirt that’s also ok. As long as you will look presentable in your profile picture and the picture represent who you really are.

You shouldn’t be overdressed with hopes of impressing people on LinkedIn. You need to represent your personal brand in the best way possible and that means wearing clothes that are presentable but still make you feel comfortable in your skin.

Overall having a picture is a key element of your personal brand and recruiters are more likely to click on a profile that has a picture when it appears on LinkedIn search results.