It is always surprising (and at times amusing) to see the array of profile photos on LinkedIn that people use to represent themselves. At the time, when browsing through pictures on your computer, I can understand why some pictures are chosen (who has the time to schedule a special LinkedIn photo shoot?) but I wonder if we would all be comfortable with placing these photos on our hardcopy resumes. Why do we feel compelled to put them on the Internet in the first place? It is important to recognise that LinkedIn is not Facebook and having no LinkedIn account is better than a poorly constructed one. There are five types of pictures to avoid at all times on LinkedIn.
1. The “Selfie”
The Selfie does have its place within society. It is ideal for concerts, when holidaying in exotic places or hanging out with your friends. It is not an ideal place for LinkedIn. The Selfie diverts the reader’s attention from ‘where is his compressor experience?’ to ‘when did he go to Big Day Out?’. Best to avoid duck-faces, peace-signs and last minute bathroom shots.
2. Inappropriate for Your Industry
Think about your future potential employer and present yourself in that way. How would you feel if you were hiring for a Safety Manager and saw a picture of them driving without a seatbelt or a Project Director sitting at a table of empty beer cans? It can be funny at the time, and perhaps adds a touch of personality, but it breeds unprofessionalism. If you a willing to post a rogue image of yourself on public display, the natural assumption is that you could represent the company with as much disregard.
This also includes highly edited and instagramed images.
It tells any future employer that you are either too lazy to organise a decent photo or you’re happy to settle for second best.
4. Picture of your pet or new car
We all love the family pet and that new expensive toy. But these pictures may be better suited to the fridge or Facebook. LinkedIn should be used as a personal branding tool for your career.
This rule is not because pets/car are unimportant, rather, a profile pictures that directly relate to your work environment show greater insight into your career. For example, posing next to a highway you helped construct as a civil engineer or next to kangaroos as an environmental ecologist adds a level of credibility and pride in your work. Added exceptions to this rule include those that work in environmental area or are car mechanics.
5. Party Picture
Hitting the town or celebrating someone’s birthday is good fun. A late night group photo to mark the occasion is a great memento to look back on even when the hangover is long gone. My advice is the two F’s – put this photo on the fridge or Facebook.
The party picture can show you are up for a good time, that you’re outgoing and open person – all promising qualities in a potential hire. Recruiters hire you for your ability to carry out a job between 9am – 5pm. What you do outside of these times does not interest them.
While funny and unusual pictures can set you apart from the rest, posting a picture like those above is an opportunity missed to build credibility as a professional and could even be detrimental. No LinkedIn picture is better than a poor LinkedIn picture. The general rule is that if you don’t feel comfortable putting it on EVERY CV you ever send out, then chances are, it isn’t appropriate.