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Let’s face it: When you only get one chance to make a first impression AND a picture’s worth a thousand words, you better bring your A-game when it comes to your LinkedIn profile pic.

In our image-focused, social media-obsessed world, thinking your book won’t get judged by its cover is about as antiquated as Beyonce thinking she could delete those Super Bowl Halftime photos from the Internet. Your book will get judged, and those pics aren’t going anywhere… and both you and Queen Bey will be fine.

For the foreseeable future, your LinkedIn profile is a living, breathing, hyper-connected resume and you should absolutely put your best foot, and smile, forward. You already keep your experience, education, volunteerism, and awards up to date, so don’t drop the ball when it comes to your photo. You don’t need to go to Glamour Shots for this important pic, but there are a few simple things to keep in mind to get that hiring manager to ask, “When can we interview them?” instead of, “Great experience, but what’s up with that pic?”

The Catch Crew checks out hundreds of LinkedIn profiles each day, and here are their dos and don’ts when it comes to this visual first impression…

What To Do

  • Smile – A smile is the same in every language, so make your profile pic positive by including yours! Take it a step further with the Duchenne Smile, and enchant your recruiter with genuine authenticity.
  • Use a Quality Photo – Have a professional or friend with a nice camera take your pic. This will ensure good lighting, crisp focus, and help your photo stand out in a sea of iPhone pics.
  • Groom Yourself – Have your photo taken after a trip to the stylist and in the morning when you’re feeling fresh. In fact, just prep for your photo shoot like you’re going to an interview!
  • Dress to Impress – Leave the tank tops and hoodies in the closet, and wear something typical of the business circles you operate in. But don’t overdress – if you’re a developer, wearing a suit might be overkill.
  • Crop it – Your pic should be zoomed in enough to look like you, but not close enough to be scary! Social media profile pics are square, so a couple tweaks to headshot cropping rules will make your photo pop.

What Not To Do

  • Include Other People – Pics of you with your spouse, kids, friends, and family are for Facebook, and prospective employers are only looking to hire you – leave them out of your profile pic!
  • Use a Selfie – Yes, you look amazing in that selfie you took when you went out last weekend, but it looks exactly like a selfie you took when you went out last weekend… know what I mean? Get someone to take your pic and it will look more professsional.
  • Crop Others Out – When you cut someone out of a photo, not only does it look kind of weird, what does it say about that person? Avoid the awkward feelings and bad composition by using just a photo of you.
  • Use Black and White – Life is in color, so your profile pic should be too. It’s more human, energetic, and represents who you really are more than any black and white photo can.
  • Post an Old Photo – If you’re keeping your work experience and other details up-to-date, you should be doing the same with your photo. No matter what your age, own it!

And the one thing you need to do above all others? Actually USE a profile pic! A blank square is a red flag, and just creates more questions. So grab a friend with a camera, use a couple of the ideas above, and rock that LinkedIn profile pic!

Ready to show off that new pic? Check out our Careers Page for fresh job opportunities.