Your LinkedIn picture is worth a thousand words.

Ready for your next challenge? Want to take that leap? Well, LinkedIn is an effective tool when you're looking for a new role. However, before you can start reaping the rewards from this networking site there are some things you should know. Let's take a moment to talk about your LinkedIn profile picture.  

One study from the University of York's Department of Psychology found that participants determined a great deal about a stranger simply by glancing at a picture. In that instant, they were able to decide whether that person is attractive, dominant, or trustworthy. You can imagine, then, that finding the right LinkedIn profile picture could mean the difference between getting an interview and getting a rejection email. Here's everything that you need to consider when choosing your photo.

Take the time to get the frame right

Before you consider picking your LinkedIn profile picture, think about the frame. You might be ready for your close-up, but a super close picture of your face is not going to be the most effective way to go. Equally, you don't want to opt for a full-length body shot - even if you are clad in a stellar outfit. Your face, more than anything else, is what makes you recognisable.

Instead, the frame should include your head and a little space at the top, too. As a general rule, your face should take centre stage in the frame, which means that it ought to take up around 60 percent of the space. That leaves just enough space for your shoulders as well.

Now, let's talk size! The current LinkedIn profile picture size is set at 400 x 400 pixels. That's rather small. Of course, that doesn't mean that you need to stick with a tiny photo when selecting the right headshot. You can upload a file of up to 8MB in size.

Dress to impress

Since your shoulders are going to be in the frame, you need to make sure that your outfit is a winner. Remember: dress for the job you want, not the job you currently have. For example, if you work as a bartender at the moment but you're applying for a PR role, your attire should be appropriate for the latter. A plain, block-coloured shirt or blouse should do the trick.

Keep it appropriate and current

Question time: do you look like your LinkedIn profile photo on a daily basis? If you're using a picture from that dream holiday seven years ago, the chances are that things may have changed. Your tan has faded, your hair is a different colour, and that nose-ring period is, thankfully, over. With that in mind, why are you using a throwback picture?

Choosing a professional LinkedIn photo is all about depicting the version of yourself that a hiring manager can expect to turn up to the office. Unless you intend on heading to your new role wearing a swimsuit and sunhat (not advisable!), leave the holiday snaps out of it altogether. It's safer to opt for a picture that is recent, i.e. less than two years old, and reflects the way that you look in a professional capacity.

Go for a plain and simple background

Have you noticed the background of your LinkedIn profile picture? If the answer is no, stop whatever you're doing and check it right now. If your picture is worth a thousand words, the background must be worth at least a few hundred.

If, for example, the backdrop of your photo shows a fully stocked bar, that sends out the wrong impression. A background like a busy restaurant could detract from the message you're trying to get across as well. Neither of these is particularly professional, which is a major problem.

You need to keep things simple. A plain background is the easiest way to go as it doesn't give anything away. For example, you could opt for a solid-color backdrop or one in a workplace that shows you in a professional setting. This is just as important as the rest of the photo, so take the time to get it right.

Make your facial expression approachable

When it comes to your LinkedIn profile picture, you have two main goals – professional and approachable. You want to appear like the type of person someone would want to work with. The aim, therefore, is to choose a picture in which you look genuinely happy. Take inspiration from America's Next Top Model and "smize." That is, smile with your eyes as well as your mouth. It may take a few attempts to get this right, but it's worth it.

If you're struggling to tick the right boxes, it could be worth using an app to help. For example, Photofeeler can help you to see how your pictures come across to onlookers. You simply have to upload your picture, select what type of photo it is (e.g. professional or social) and the app will tell you if it's appropriate.

Don't be afraid to use a filter

You don't want to Photoshop your way to model-like looks, but that doesn't mean that the #NoFilter rule applies here. Creating a professional LinkedIn photo means making yourself look as well-groomed and put together as possible. You don't want to change your look entirely, but there's no harm in using a mild filter (to tone down blemishes or the like). Try an app, such as FaceTune, to edit the picture on your phone in mere minutes.

Final thoughts

Now that you've got the inside scoop, is it time to change things up? Selecting a professional LinkedIn profile picture is one way to improve your chances when it comes to finding your perfect role. Follow this guide and ensure that you have the most effective photo to complement your strong LinkedIn profile.  

Click on the following link for more advice on building your personal brand online.

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