5 min read

LinkedIn Profile Images: Getting it Wrong & Why Oprah Gets It Right!

Jun 28, 2021 2:27:00 PM

When combined with an effective headline the right LinkedIn profile picture can help drive more clicks to your profile. And the very often disregarded background image is a great place to really stand out.

By applying these LinkedIn profile photo tips, writing an engaging summary and optimising your profile, you'll be on your way to building a strong presence on the platform.

Most importantly, you'll make a good first impression, increasing the likelihood that a positive message from a recruiter lands in your inbox.

There are two places for you to upload images on your LinkedIn profile.

One of them is your profile picture. A plain and simple headshot. Yet it’s unbelievable how many people don’t seem to be bothered to do it. Perhaps they think that not uploading a shot is better than uploading a poor one. Maybe, but it’s a startling fact that profiles which feature images are 16 times more likely to be found in recruiter and hiring manager searches. 

Here’s a guide to common LinkedIn image mistakes and how to avoid them.

1) Leaving your photo blank

Don’t go there!

LinkedIn is a social media platform - albeit a professional one, so not having a photo is a big miss. Sure, there are profiles without them, but they are 16 times less likely to attract attention than the same profiles without profile images. We'd call that non-negotiable!

2) Using a Twitter, Instagram or Facebook photo 

A photo that is appropriate for Facebook, Instagram or Twitter may not be appropriate for LinkedIn.

Whatever you do on your LinkedIn profile, avoid photos:

  • that are effectively holiday snaps
  • are party/social event snaps
  • that include other people (and leave the cute animals for YouTube!)

Pick a professional headshot that shows off your face from the shoulders up. LinkedIn makes it easy to crop it so that your face fills up the majority of the space provided.

Perfect LinkedIn Profile Image

Oprah provides an excellent example of an effective LinkedIn headshot that is both professional and perfectly cropped

2) Forgetting to use a background image

Some users simply use the default image of the shades of grey/blue shapes, perhaps because they don’t realize a custom image can be uploaded, don’t get around to it or just don’t know what image would be good to use. Your LinkedIn background banner photo should reinforce who you are and visually support the written portions of your profile. This image should communicate your value, skills and professional identity. 

This is a prime pile of marketing real estate, so make sure that you use it to position who you are, or what you stand for. Again, Oprah’s profile is a great example - we’re in no doubt about what she believes in and is striving for.

Have a look at this selection of free images from Unsplash Recommended dimensions are 1584 pixels wide by 396 pixels tall.

3) Dressing unprofessionally


Your LinkedIn headshot is part of your personal executive brand, so think about the impression your will be making on prospective employers. You’re not trying to project the fact that you spend the weekend wild camping or snowboarding, but that you are reliable, thoughtful and will add value to the kind of company you see yourself working for. Don’t introduce too much risk at this stage. It’s easier to be ruled out than ruled in.

4) Heavily editing or displaying a grainy photo

Make sure the image isn’t grainy or blurry. This can become an issue if you are cropping your face out of a full-body photo or a photo with other people in it.

You may be tempted to apply filters to help you look your best, but keep them to a minimum.

You could even consider is using a black and white photo which can generate just as high a click-through rate. In fact, some recent research indicates that a black and white image may create an even better standout.

Pro tip: To take a LinkedIn profile picture without a professional photographer, get a friend to take one on your iPhone (you can even take a photo of yourself) in front of a plain background. 

Use Canva or another editing software to make the picture black and white. Which can quickly and easily eliminate imperfections and resolve lighting issues

5) A headshot with a cluttered background

Your background doesn't necessarily have to be plain, but it shouldn't be distracting.

Pro tip: If you have a photo that you're otherwise happy with but that has a messy background, you can quickly remove the background using PhotoScissors.

6) Paying little attention to your facial expression

First impressions count - in fact, this is true even more online where there are few non-verbal clues for people to go on.

Your facial expression can speak volumes about what you are like as a person.

When building your personal brand, choose a LinkedIn profile picture that gives off a first impression conveying:

  • Professionalism
  • Confidence
  • Likeability
  • Charisma

You can check out what your profile shot is saying about you using Photofeeler [https://www.photofeeler.com] a photo testing service that will tell you whether you look likeable, influential and competent.

Now you've got the images sorted, here's a great checklist for you to work through so that you attract the right attention to your LinkedIn profile.

Philip Browne

Written by Philip Browne