What Science and Recruiters Want From Your LinkedIn Profile Photo(s)

linkedin, recruiters, social media

Naturally, as a full-time recruiter I spend an exorbitant amount of time pursuing LinkedIn profiles. It’s a recruiter’s most frequent online destination when being charged with filling a job opening. While not all profiles are created equal, it never fails that every couple weeks I run across a real doozy. These are profiles that have all the right endorsements and employment experience, but are hamstrung by a truly cringeworthy profile photo.

Over time, and in effort to make light of these tragic choices, I’ve begun to create some basic categories that these photo offenders may fall within.

The Glamour Shot

This is a category that is best represented by all the near miss photos. These are pictures in which the person technically looks presentable and in good light. Where they fall short is in the manner of dress and the pose the person is in. Your LinkedIn photo should not be reminiscent of senior pictures or glamour shots done at the mall. While it may seem fun to post a, shall we say, more creatively composed photo, there’s no one way a potential employer may perceive it. This is a situation where it’s better to be safe than sorry.

The Grumpy Cats

As people who spend time on the Internet we should all be relatively aware and understand what I mean by the term “Grumpy Cat.” But for those who just finished retiring their rolodex, the famous Grumpy Cat is a creature that made its fame by looking so decidedly displeased it somehow became an adorable media sensation. Unfortunately, for us of the human species, that same strategy for fame, fortune, and employment fails. While one should stay true to whom they are, one should strive to present a photo that doesn’t look like you were just informed your car got towed.

The Casual Fridays

There’s something to be said for a person who is comfortable in their on skin. This inherent confidence can be a great asset to an employer. However, said employer has no desire to literally see too much skin. Additionally, if your pastimes include guzzling a 30-pack at the lake while wearing your favorite hair band T-shirt, by all means party on, but be warned. That candid shot does not exactly read as our next up and coming finance executive. It’s great to know you’ll be the life of the party at the next company retreat, but at the end of the day does that image send the subliminal message that you may not be the best judge of what’s appropriate in a professional setting? Things to consider….

The Crop

We’ve all been there where we’ve taken a fantastic photo especially on the fly. Maybe the lighting or photo angle was just right except for that fact that your friend, family member or significant other happens to also be in that photo. The crop happens when we want that photo for our LinkedIn profile. We try to carefully cut or crop out that other person, persons, or our hand while we’re holding that margarita, glass of wine, or other alcoholic beverage. Because you know that once you do the crop you know we’re all wondering just exactly what and or who you removed from that photo and why.

The Science Behind LinkedIn Profile Photos

Earlier this year, a study was released on the six most important LinkedIn Profile photo characteristics to drive the most engagement and make the best impression with recruiters as well as recruiters with candidates. The study from PhotoFeeler evaluated more than 60,000 profile pictures. Here’s what it found:

  • Avoid Blocking Your Eyes. Limit sunglasses and big hair. LinkedIn users want to see a person’s eyes as it lends to the highest amount of credibility.
  • Make Eye Contact. Profile pictures of those who looked directly in the camera were viewed the most positively from the study.
  • More Eye Squinches. Squinching your eyes was found to portray the most comfort and confidence.
  • A Defined Jawline. This can be accomplished through head position, makeup contouring or good ole’ Photoshop.
  • Say Cheese. Open mouthed smiles garner the most likability according to the study. Make sure to brush and polish those pearly whites.
  • Formal Dress. Professional dress makes the best impression during job interviews, work meetings, and in social media profile photos.
  • Profile Pictures That Include Your Head and Shoulders. Avoid those up close photos of just your face and the full body pics. The standard head and shoulder headshot portrays the most professional image for you on LinkedIn.


What types of LinkedIn profile photos do you like the best or loathe the most? Let me know in the comments section if you can think of any other photo faux pas.

Sarah Lemmon


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