Bad LinkedIn PhotoAs a job search coach and executive resume writer, I’m consistently astounded at the ways job seekers can stand in their own way of landing the perfect position.

Nothing exemplifies this better than the LinkedIn photo.

You might find putting your headshot on a public forum to be daunting. However, if you’ve resorted to using your best available photo, disastrous results can follow.

Don’t blame it on the economy, your age, or experience! Failing to display a professional image online WILL affect your job search.

If your LinkedIn photo shows ANY of the following, employers may refrain from reaching out to you – especially if your target job requires a professional, client-facing demeanor:

1 – Your pet.

However much you love your dog, cat, or tarantula, employers don’t need to see their shining faces next to yours on LinkedIn.

Keep Fido, Fluffy, and Fearless out of your professional life, the same way you’d refrain from taking them to an interview.

2 – Excessive (or white) beards.

While neatly trimmed facial hair is common, some employers react to beards on candidates. Facial hair, especially when it’s white, can also age you. My clients consistently report better results when they join the ranks of their clean-shaven counterparts.

Still not convinced? Read this article from CBS News, or do your own online research. The evidence overwhelmingly points to a successful job search when you take the hint and eliminate the beard.

Unless you’re applying for the position of Kenny Rogers (or Santa Claus), white hair in your LinkedIn photo will NOT be an advantage in your job search. (Photoshop notwithstanding)

3 – The inside of your car.

Want to convey that you’re serious about your career? Then look the part – deliberately – instead of using a randomly taken photo that includes a headrest.

Even a great shot of you behind the wheel isn’t enough to make employers think you can drive a new project or team. (pun intended)

4 – Your spouse or children.

Family photos aren’t LinkedIn fodder, because your Profile is all about YOU. Unlike Facebook, where family matters are frequently shared, your LinkedIn Profile is the place to separate work and home.

Show employers you understand this divide by keeping your LinkedIn persona strictly about your professional image.

5 – Bare shoulders.

Here’s one I see constantly: professional women in less-than-professional attire.

It baffles me to see someone who’s undoubtedly spent countless hours honing her career skills and earning a path to a leadership role… in a cocktail dress on a professional, career-oriented networking site.

Sure, you look good, but this isn’t the professional image most people expect (or want to remember), based on your credentials. I’ll even go out on a limb to say that it looks as if you’re confusing LinkedIn with Facebook.

Bottom line: if you wouldn’t wear a strapless dress, sports t-shirt, or low-cut blouse to the office, then don’t show this attire to every prospective boss in the world!

Also, a late-evening party photo can reflect the time of day on your face. That tired look isn’t the fresh, ready-to-work image that will get you hired.

6 – A political sign.

You may believe that endorsing (or bashing) a political figure on LinkedIn will promote your cause. But guess what? Your prospective boss might be on the other side of your political leanings.

As the last election showed all too well, at least half of this country disagrees with you (and therefore, may not consider hiring you). Drop the political messaging from your Profile photo and text, and see what happens.

7 – Your spouse’s arm, shoulder, or hand.

Cropping yourself out of a family photo not only looks obvious, but implies that you’re camera-shy (and perhaps won’t project sufficient confidence at work).

Get over your reluctance – your job search may depend on it. You can easily get a great-looking photo by relying on a professional headshot photographer. And for the love of Pete, refrain from looking menacing – just smile!

They’re affordable (sometimes as low as $30 at a chain store), and experts at making you look your best (even if you don’t feel picture-perfect!). They’ll position you at a flattering angle, and even apply a little airbrushing at your request.

You’ll never need that shoulder again.

To sum it up, your LinkedIn Profile isn’t just the “new resume” – it’s a fresh opportunity to promote your brand by looking the part of the consummate expert.

If your LinkedIn Profile isn’t gaining traction, take a serious look at your posted photo. Changing it to a professional-looking headshot might just be the push needed for employers to contact you.

Need a competitive edge in your job search? As an award-winning executive resume writer, I create branded, powerful resumes and LinkedIn Profiles that position you as the #1 candidate.

My clients win interviews at Fortune 500 firms including Citibank, Google, Disney, and Pfizer, plus niche companies, start-ups, and emerging industry leaders.

Get in touch with me to experience the outstanding results I can bring to your transition.

– Laura Smith-Proulx, CCMC, CPRW, CPBA, TCCS, COPNS, CIC

10 thoughts on “7 LinkedIn Photos That Can Keep You From Landing a Job

  1. You really have to keep your pictures, text, etc. clean and professional. Those qualities would definitely attract potential employers. They would know your level of seriousness based on what you post on your social media profiles/accounts.


  2. Photos have been illegal with resumes since the 60s…LinkedIn and Facebook (a personal networking site) have broken that taboo. The ageism comment is a perfect example of why it should still be taboo. People will judge based on skin tone, weight, and hair color giving little credence to actual ability to perform the job.


    1. Theresa,

      Thank you – my point exactly. This is why (even before the interview, when they get the ultimate chance to see how you look) it makes sense to put one’s best professional foot forward ALL the time in a job search!

      Unfortunately, too many job seekers don’t realize the impact of the photo on LinkedIn. While an online photo *should* not be a requirement for hiring, social media engagement has made this a reality.

      Being armed and ready with a professionally branded image, LinkedIn Profile, and resume is critical.



  3. Great post, Laura. I didn’t know facial hair, even clean shaven, is taboo. I’ve also seen a lot of photos where people are at a party or on a cruise or at a wedding. Some people just try to find the best photo they have available. They need to take the time to get one done professionally, even if it cost $40-$150. It’s worth it.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s