Blog articles on building a professional presence online.

Your LinkedIn profile pic – three things that work and five things to avoid

This article was produced for the wonderful networking group, Women in Rural Enterprise (WiRE), for their newsletter.

LinkedIn aims to be different from other social media. Describing itself as “the world’s largest professional network”, its mission is to “connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful”.  For those of us using LinkedIn, the key word in both the description and the mission statement is “professional” – and this is what you should aim for in your photo.

There are three types of photograph that could work well for you on LinkedIn:

  • the full face shot
  • the pic of you with your product or service
  • the quirky pic

The full face shot – where you look directly at the camera and smile – is the easiest and the safest.  Done properly, it is very effective. You will come across as a reliable, straightforward and consistent business person. Options include cropping in close or going further out to include whole head and shoulders.  (If you include shoulders, then wear business attire rather than sportswear or holiday clothes…).

I have gone for the full face shot because I tend to be cautious on social media and I feel it suits my social media ‘personality’.  Here I am, on the left below, and here are two WiRE members who, I feel, have used the full face shot successfully: Emily Whitehead and Kate Young:

LinkedIn a LinkedIn b LinkedIn c

Me                                                Emily Whitehead                       Kate Young


The pic of you with your product or service – it is great to be photographed with your product or providing your service as the photo then illustrates your business. Two WiRE members who do this to great effect are Ruth Downing (who, incidentally, takes LinkedIn profile photos for people) and Sarah Lewis:

LinkedIn dLinkedIn e

Ruth Downing                       Sarah Lewis


For the quirky pic you need confidence, courage and creativity … Get it right and it works brilliantly.  Get it wrong and you leave your audience puzzled and confused.  But why not try it anyway? You can always take it down if you change your mind..  Here are two more WiRE members  who have pulled it off perfectly:

LinkedIn fLinkedIn g

Helen Culshaw                      Philippa Davies


Whatever you decide to do, here are five things to avoid:

  1. a cropped picture of you taken from a group shot. However careful you are there always seems to be someone else’s arm or hand included…
  2. busy backgrounds which have nothing to do with your business
  3. two of you in a pic (which one are you?)
  4. a pic of you holding a wine glass, g & t, cocktail, pint, etc (unless you sell it)
  5. you on holiday….in sunglasses….at the spa….at the races….on a night out…

You get the picture.

Judith Poulteney MA FCIPD is a specialist careers consultant and interview coach who produces interview-winning CVs, covering letters and LinkedIn profiles. She would like to thank the WiRE members who agreed to her using their LinkedIn profile pictures for this blog.