My Do’s And Don’ts Of LinkedIn Profile Photos

If you are between the ages of 25 and 55, then chances are, you probably already have a LinkedIn Profile.  And chances are, you probably don’t think about it very often, unless you are job hunting (in which case, you may be updating your profile almost daily.)

Most people only update their work experience or skills when they revise their LinkedIn profile. More savvy B2B folks find ways to optimize their LinkedIn profile so that they rank higher in the LinkedIn Search results.  Others may ask for recommendations from former coworkers or clients.  But how much time and thought did they put into their LinkedIn profile photo?  My guess is most people have not thought about their photo since the day they uploaded it. How many times have you changed your photo?

LinkedIn has published guidelines for profile photos, but unless you are posting your company logo, your tagline, your favorite animal, or landscape, they will pretty much accept any photo as long as you are in it. If you break their easy-to-meet guidelines three times, they supposedly will not let you upload any more profile photos. However, I have seen some profiles of people who somehow got around this rule, and have a pet as their profile photo.  My guess is they uploaded the photo before the rules were created or enforced, and now they are essentially ‘grandfathered in’ (or would it be, ‘grandfather-Linked-In’?)

Remember that the FIRST thing someone sees when you show up in a LinkedIn search, or “People You May Know”, is your photo, and those first impressions count!  Yet for most people, the profile photo is the LAST thing they worry about!  So what kind of photo makes a good LinkedIn profile photo?  What makes for a bad one?

Here is my short list of Do’s and Don’ts of LinkedIn profile photos:

1. DON’T use your wedding photo, or a photo someone took of you while you were attending someone else’s wedding.  These are far too common and very easy to spot. Will you be wearing that tuxedo or strapless dress to your next interview?  Dapper!

Black and white professional headshot
My professional headshot in black and white

2. DO yourself a favor and get a professional headshot taken at least once every 5 years. No one likes meeting an older version of you after they saw the younger you online. Request a full color headshot and a black and white version of the same photo.  Beyond your LinkedIn profile, its good to have “your best face” on hand for other reasons like company newsletters, bylined articles, online dating sites, obituaries … “you never know when you are going to go” is my motto.  Might as well be ready for it.

3. DON’T use a photo that is obviously a cropped photo of you and someone else.  This is just as common as the wedding photos and drives me berserk!  Just because you were wearing a tie that day does not mean you look professional.  You look sweaty! And if you are going to crop out other people, you should also crop out that drink in your hand.

Example of cropped photo taken at a wedding
Cropped photo taken at a wedding

4. DO make sure to smile in your LinkedIn profile photo. Just like dating sites, people on LinkedIn want to work with happy people. Save your Resting Bitch Face for after you get the gig.

#LMRBFO = Laughing My Resting Bitch Face Off
#LMRBFO = Laughing My Resting Bitch Face Off

5. DON’T keep your profile photo blank.  If you don’t have a profile photo yet, then you probably should not have a public profile yet either.  No one wants to work with a ghost.  Plus, without a photo, how can the people you have previously worked with know that its actually you, and not someone pretending to be you?

6. DO include other items in your profile photo that are relevant to your career.  For example, if you are an audio engineer who typically works at concerts, then a photo of you standing next to a huge audio mixing console certainly adds value to your online resume.  It says “yes, I have done this before, so I am qualified”.  Or if you are a bowling coach, its okay to have bowling ball in hand.

7. DON’T wear sunglasses. Hey, I understand where you are coming from: I think I look better in sunglasses too, but its not appropriate on a professional networking site. Your eyes are the window to your soul, and by wearing sunglasses, you just closed the shades. The one exception to this would be if the person was visually impaired, or if they wear prescription glasses that transition to sunglasses in sunlight.  Also, if you use a photo taken outdoors, make sure your face is clearly visible.  Oftentimes, outdoor photos have too much contrast between the sunlight and shadows.

Sunglasses and Dreadlocks
Would you hire this shady dude?  I sure wouldn’t.

8. DO wear something that resembles what you would typically wear to your job on a day to day basis.  No wedding dresses, no hats, no tie-dyed shirts, no sports attire.  I don’t care how much you love your team; there are people on LinkedIn who do not.  Why jeopardize your career just because you are still bitter that the Hartford Whalers moved to North Carolina in 1997, and left Connecticut without any major sports team?  Not cool, Whalers!

9. DON’T have a coworker, friend, or family member take a photo of you using their mobile phone camera, standing in front of a wall or a tree.  Unless you are the photogenic type, these types of photos will never be as good as a professional headshot.  AND NO SELFIES. NO EXCEPTIONS.

Photo taken on Easter
Photo taken by my friend on Easter

10. DO make yourself stand out, but be careful: this can be a double-edged sword.  You may be wearing a t-shirt that says something funny in your photo, but others may not get the joke.  Better to use a photo from that time you went sky diving, or snorkeling.  These types of “adventure photos” will create instant conversation when you connect with someone new on LinkedIn. Photos of you receiving an award also show you are valuable.

Hopefully by now, you ‘get the picture’.  By putting a little extra time, effort, and yes, a little money into your LinkedIn profile, you will be sure to be putting your best business face forward, and your online resume will be much more professional. First impressions are everything, and online, that impression is limited to your profile photos.

Additional advice on LinkedIn:

https://pkaudiovisual.com/2014/02/05/social-media-networking/

If we are not yet connected on LinkedIn, here is my profile:
http://www.linkedin.com/in/pkaudiovisual/

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AV Personality Types: Are you an A, B, C, or D?

What Personality Type Makes For A Good Audiovisual Design Company?

Any good company has to have a good mix of people in order to balance the work load.  By matching the personality type of with the job opening, employers can benefit from certain traits that may be inherent in some individuals, and not others.  Combining the different strengths (and often weakness) of individuals into a working recipe for success may take some trial and error as a company grows into maturity.

Below is a hypothesis I have been working on regarding consulting firms and integrators in the AV industry, specifically smaller firms.  My theory is that any good AV integrator or consultant should have one person who fits the following descriptions. Oftentimes, a person fits more than one, but the theory is that you need all four personalities to be ultimately successful, not matter how many team members you have:

AV Personality Type A

This is the Architect of the team; the Artist.  Someone who is an AV Type A is most concerned with the quality of the Audio, the Angles of the loudspeakers, what Amp to use, and the Aesthetics of the video system.  There is another word that starts with the letter A that may describe them…

AV Personality Type B

(or just AVB…? lol) The AV Type B is all about Business. They handle the Brochures and proposals and generate the workflow.  To the clients, they are a Buddy. They often love Bourbon, Buffets, and hand out of a lot Business Cards.  Type B may also handle the day to day business of invoicing, while keeping an eye on the project Budget.

AV Personality Type C

Type C excels in Communication with Client and the other people in the Company.  Type C may be a “jack of all trades, master of none” which makes them ideal Consultants and/or good at Coordination meetings.  Type C likes to talk about Control Systems, Cables, Connectors and Conduits. Custom is this person’s middle name.

AV Personality Type D

In the end, its all about the Deliverables, and the AV Type D is the one who gets it Done.  Computer-aided Drafting?  Done.  Documentation needed before a DeadlineDone.  Double mocha latte with whipped cream?  Buy them one, they probably Deserve it.

The Answer Is: All Of The Above

By mixing and matching each of the above AV personalities, you will find a certain synergy will develop in your firm.  Slow days will be less common as more business develops and projects get done more efficiently.  You can get by without one or two of the above personalities, but not for long, as you need the right balance of folks when things get busy, and when business is slow.

Would YOU Date A Dead Rock Star?

After hearing that the Grateful Dead reunion shows will be streamed from Chicago, IL and Santa Clara, CA, I have heard a couple people say things like “wouldn’t it be great if so-and-so showed up, wait, is he still alive?” and “I wish I could go back in time and hear Jerry play, just once (more)”. I am sure we have all had a similar daydream at some point; if I could go back in time and see anyone play live, Jimi Hendrix would be my choice.

Now let’s take this thought experiment a step further and ask ourselves the following question: if you were given an opportunity to go back in time and date a rock star, someone who died prematurely because of their personal demons, would you do it?

Close your eyes (not yet! you have to keep reading first) and imagine a time machine with a very limited feature set and GUI (graphical user interface). As you step into the time machine, all you see are a dozen or so buttons on the wall. Beside each button is the name of a dead rock star (don’t focus on the music genre, could be a pop star or country singer, but with “rock star” status.) No other controls are in the time machine, just buttons and names.

Amy Winehouse, 2007.  Photo courtesy of Wikipedia
Amy Winehouse in LA circa 2007; photo courtesy of Wikipedia

Each rock star next to each button has died prematurely due to alcohol, drug abuse, suicide, or maybe a car accident. The buttons might include Amy Winehouse, Curt Cobain, even Michael Jackson, who did not technically kill himself, but definitely had issues, both growing up and as an adult; I think we can all agree on that. The names don’t really matter, because in this thought experiment, you only need to choose one.

Back to the time machine, like I said, it has limited functionality and you can not choose exactly what time you get to travel back to. In fact, let’s call it The Limited Time Machine. When you hit a button next to a rock stars name, you will be transported back in time to a point in that rock star’s life where you can meet them, and get to know them on a personal level. You might even start dating them, and/or develop a long term relationship.

The Limited Time Machine would not guarantee love, but it would put you in a time and place where it could happen. All you can choose is which rock star you might want to date. That might be difficult for some readers, knowing deep down that your time with them is limited, either by the limited time machine taking you back to the future, or by their death. Or maybe another reason, it doesn’t matter; your time with them is limited.

Would you try to save them from their eventual demise? Or would you worry that if you tried to save them, it might negatively affect their music that brings so much happiness to the world? Do you really think you could save them if you tried? Wouldn’t it just be a matter of time until they died, or you were swept away by the Limited Time Machine?

Perhaps it would be better to just sit in the front row and watch, as your lover and confidant performed and delighted the crowds. That is where this blog post began, right? Going back in time as an innocent concert attendee, who did not know the person behind the mask, or what happened in the back of the tour bus. Could you love them just for who the were, and stop there?  Would you be able to handle a relationship with them in the years leading up to their death, or only if you could know them in their earlier years, when things were easier?

So again, I ask you to close your eyes, and imagine you are stepping into this limited time machine.  Would you push the button to date a dead rock star?  Which one, and why?

Please submit your comments below or email me at pkav.info@gmail.com .

Thanks -pk