Your LinkedIn Photo: Hot or Not?

What do tuxedos, strapless dresses, bar scenes, beaches, and outdoor parties have in common? They’ve all been the accompaniment to some amazingly casual LinkedIn photos.

You’re probably aware that a professional presence on LinkedIn can either facilitate or undermine your job search – but you might not know that the headshot you choose is an important part of your personal brand.

Here are strong reasons to keep your LinkedIn photo toned-down and reasonably professional:

Your future boss or co-workers will be checking you out here.

No, not like that. They’ll want to learn about you prior to the interview, and before you come into the office on your first day. In fact, you’ll notice a spike in your Profile Visitor hit rate just before these events.

A photo that exudes confidence and professionalism will set the tone for your first meetings, while a too-informal one can cast doubt on your fitness for the new job.

Recruiters are trying to decide if you’re a presentable candidate.

In the digital age, a LinkedIn page may be all a recruiter (who is talking to you from across the country, or world, for that matter) has to go by before setting you up for an interview.

Nothing says “pass me by” faster than cocktail attire, or that relaxed look on your face as you hoist a cool one with your friends – even if you’ve taken the time to craft a strong brand message throughout your Profile.

Potential networking contacts are sizing you up for a connection.

You may be issuing status updates that show you’re at the top of your professional game, or joining in Groups discussions about your leadership philosophy.

However, these activities are not what others will see first. Instead, they’ll form an opinion based on the message sent by your photo – before even thinking about what you wrote.

Don’t discourage them by presenting your private, non-work persona side over your professional one!

So, take another look at your LinkedIn photo with a critical eye. Just because it shows you looking great (at your cousin’s wedding or that after-work party) doesn’t mean it will automatically convey your professional acumen.

You’ll benefit from investing in yourself with either a professionally created headshot, or a photo taken in a neutral setting. All you’ll need is a suit, a camera-bearing friend, and a confident smile to boost your opportunities on LinkedIn.

Laura Smith-Proulx, award-winning executive resume writer and founder of An Expert Resume, is a former recruiter who partners with CIO, CFO, CCO, COO, CTO, CEO, SVP, and Director candidates to win top jobs at Fortune-ranked corporations. A credentialed Professional Resume Writer, Career Management Coach, Interview Coach, Social Networking (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter) Career Strategist, and Personal Branding Analyst, she is the author of How to Get Hired Faster: 60+ Proven Tips & Resources to Access the Hidden Job Market, with work featured in 8 career bestsellers. She serves as a media source to Wall Street Journal FINS,,,, and other outlets.

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  1. Excellent blog Laura. A pro headshot is as important as a great interview suit. As a recruiter, if I see a photo on Linked In of potential candidate and their dog, or cat, or kid, or surfboard, or car, or bottle of beer, I pass.


  2. It’s definitely important to have a professional presence online, and that includes photos of yourself. Many recent grads may find that they don’t have professional headshots of themselves, and often Facebook photos aren’t employer-friendly. What many don’t realize is that they can take a professional-looking photo themselves. All it takes is a good camera, appropriate clothing, and a suitable backdrop!

  3. Philip Hallquist says:

    Hi Laura, good article. Should men be wearing a tie in their LinkedIn profile photo, or is that too formal a look. I am a litigation paralegal. Thanks!

  4. Laura Smith-Proulx says:


    Good question on the tie. If you’re trying to advance in your career, I recommend the old advice about dressing for one level above your current job.

    Therefore, a tie would be very appropriate, especially in your industry (where most people dress conservatively).

    Kind regards,


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