Posted: by HRNasty in Climbing Career Ladder, Networking, Over 40, Recent Graduate, What Recruiters Really Think

profile picture

What kind of profile picture is this?

Yes, your profile picture matters:  

Pay attention to your profile picture.  Whether you are looking for a position, or happily employed, pay attention to this piece of the puzzle.  LinkedIn is one of the first places recruiters and hiring managers check after looking at a resume or hearing about a candidate and at a subconscious level, these decision makers want to see what you look like. It is the first impression you will make online and you don’t want to blow it. For this reason, I always recommend that we make it easy for the recruiter to see what you look like and list a link to your LinkedIn profile at the top of the resume along with your contact info. I would rather see your LinkedIn profile vs. your street address. I am going to look at your LinkedIn profile so make it easy for me. I am NOT going to send you anything via snail mail.  

I am not talking about the obvious:

  • Your Facebook photo’s showing you hung over at a college party
  • In an embarrassing situation with half-naked friends 

These are the obvious job stoppers and I am not here to lecture you about these faux pas.  I will leave that to your significant other and parents.  I am talking about are the basics.  If you have a Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Skype, or any other profile picture, don’t just use it appropriately, leverage the opportunity and use this space effectively.

Whether a recruiter will admit it or not, they all look at the profile picture of candidates on the internet.  With the advent of LinkedIn and Facebook, can you blame them?  I may not have your picture top of mind when I go to your LinkedIn account, but there is nothing more frustrating than searching for the background on someone and then find the following on the profile:

  • Profile picture is absent with nothing but an empty silhouette: This tells me that you haven’t taken the time to finish a project, have something to be embarrassed about, or you just don’t care.  If the rest of the  of the profile is filled out, than this is an obvious miss.  
  • Use of a cartoon avatar for you profile picture, specifically on LinkedIn.  What is this??  This is your PROFESSIONAL profile.  This is not a forum for clown school.  Professionals are searching and viewing your profile, consequently, they come to this site with a specific mentality.  
  • Caricature of yourself on their blog.  Unless you are an artist, or in a creative field, avoid this move.
  • Profile picture of you that is dated or a picture of you that isn’t focused.  This is your professional image, treat it as such.  This should be the picture that you would put on your company web page.  In this day and age of high-definition camera’s there really is no excuse to present a less than professional image.
  • You in front of some tourist attraction.   Usually these pictures are thumbnail size, so getting your face AND a tourist attraction in there is tough.  I didn’t hit this page to see the Eiffel Tower or you in Pike Place Market park.  I came to see you!  Use these pictures on Facebook to show the personal side of your life.

It is common knowledge that recruiters and execs go to these pages to get a feeling for who someone is.  It is probably not a recruiters number 1 goal to figure out what you look like, but it sends a distinct message when the picture is absent.  Even if you are gainfully and happily employed, you may be a potential customer, a potential vendor, or a potential recruit that a company may be going after.  Your picture just greases the wheels to you becoming any of the above or a networking target.  You may be happily employed, you may be self-employed, but if you are in the business of networking, you need appropriate pictures.

If you are not able to be found in the year 2015 the message you are sending is that you probably have something to hide, or you don’t want to be found.  Hmmmmm.

So, how do you present yourself?

  • LinkedIn should be a professional picture.  A headshot where your face fills the frame.  Smile if you can.  Think of this picture as what may be used on a company website.  Professional and appropriate dress for your industry.
  • Facebook in my opinion is an opportunity to show off some of your personality.  If you like hiking, and your picture was taken on a mountain, perfect.  If you are a wine drinker, a picture of a glass of Red wine won’t cut it, even if the glass is Reidel cut glass, and the wine is vintage. Get your face in there with a smile.
  • Blog:  yes, you do need the obligatory headshot here.  A lot of recruiters these days are looking for blogs when they go to LinkedIn.  I recently saw a blog where the writer went to one of those instant picture booths found in an arcade and took his pictures there with some serious and not so serious pictures.  The caption literally read “obligatory head shots”.  I got the feeling he didn’t want to do it, but figured out a way to make it his own.  (yes, I am behind a mask in my headshot here, but I NEED to work in this town)
  • If I go to your website and the first thing I see is your headshot smiling into my face taking up a majority of the page, I will get a little creeped out.  The profile picture with a link to the “About” page is perfectly acceptable and drives interest.  Keep it simple.
  • For LinkedIn, have a friend with a high def camera go out and take a minimum of 20 pictures.   30 is better.  Don’t be embarrassed.  This is your brand and your image.  All it takes is time.  Pick the best.  Avoid taking 2 pictures and picking one.  You want to present the best that you have, and picking from 2 is VERY different from picking from 20 or 30.  They will all look very similar, but 1 or 2 WILL jump out at you.  We all took 1 single picture for the year books in high school and look what happened.  No professional photographer takes one shot of their model and says “OK folks, that’s a wrap”
  • Keep the pictures recent.  There is nothing worse than seeing a picture and then meeting the older sister or older brother version.  If you went on a date, would you want to see the 10 year younger version???
  • Avoid pictures of you with your friends / family and BFF.  This is YOUR profile picture.  Am I supposed to be able to figure out who is who and what is what???  Whose profile picture is this???

There  is plenty of advice on how to frame a picture, my point is to make sure you frame it.

Good Luck,


nasty:  an unreal maneuver of incredible technique, something that is ridiculously good, tricky and manipulative but with a result that can’t help but be admired, a phrase used to describe someone who is good at something.  “He has a nasty forkball”.

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  • gander2112

    Really good advice. I have a quality headshot for my linked in profile, and I have a picture of me at a trailhead before a hike in my Facebook profile.

    A long time ago, I had a picture of me jamming at a gig (guitar player) for my LinkedIn profile, but then I realized that it might send the wrong picture.

    My personal blog?  No picture. Probably not going to put one up either. If they find it and if they read it (and I got one job because I had been active in these areas, and my rival was notably missing), it has to stand on its own.

    • gander2112, great to see you again and thanks for the support.  I think you have it absolutely correct, professional on LinkedIn and personal on FB.  Totally understand the lack of a picture on the blog in some instances and I get where you are coming from.  I am in a similar situation, I want the content to stand on it’s own and of course, personally, I want to maintain a professional image in the HR community.  Thanks for the support! 

      • gander2112

        I should add that you should periodically “Google” yourself and look at the image results.  You want a high quality head shot to appear, and be related to your online presence.

        I did this recently, and while being surprised how many people share my name, I did find a few dozen with my LinkedIn pic.

        • gander2112,
          Absolutely great advice and thanks for adding this one.  We all have prior profiles buried deep in the closet of the online world.  Best to double check  and keep profiles current!  Thanks for the tip