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Tandem Powered's blog is dedicated to empowering readers by highlighting best practices in the arena of resume writing, career development, and organizational effectiveness, as well as by providing readers with an insider's view of the corporate hiring process.

Don't Use That Photo on LinkedIn

Kent Nolen

With average attention spans diminishing to nearly no time at all, first impressions are more important than ever. Because of that, things like your LinkedIn photo choice matter. It’s likely the very first thing employers will see when looking st your social resume.

With that in mind – and because people often make terrible photo choices – I am resurfacing my go-to guidance for selecting a LinkedIn picture.

I hate talking about LinkedIn photos – as an HR professional it is upsetting to me that one's picture is increasingly being taken into account during the hiring process. My distaste (and the law) aside, it is a reality that your profile photo will play some role in the hiring process. With that in mind, I think it is time to resurface some tips for selecting an effective LinkedIn profile photo.

Here are some things to consider when selecting your LinkedIn (or other) profile picture:

Don’t crop a group photo – You may think that the photo of you with your arm around your buddies at a football game is the best picture of you. Your team won, you look genuinely happy, and the lighting is really good. That may all be true, but when that picture is cropped to be you and the shoulder of a friend, it’s going to look silly on your LinkedIn profile.

Go as high quality as possible – Pixelated, low-quality photos make terrible profile pictures. You may be striking just the perfect balance of professional and approachable, but if the quality is bad, it doesn’t matter. Always upload the highest quality picture possible.

Avoid the flash shadow – You’ve seen this picture. Someone standing in front of a cubical wall looking like a deer in the headlights with a horrible shadow behind their head. This kind of photo could make a nobel laureate look like an amateur. Good lighting matters – a lot.

Don't use a wedding photo – Ever.

In a perfect world, your LinkedIn profile picture would have zero relevance. But the fact is that readers will make immediate judgments based solely on your photo, so take it seriously. Plus, you've likely got a camera in your pocket that delivers the kind of quality photos once available only to professionals (portrait mode on iPhone is a perfect example), so if you don't have a great picture to choose from, grab a friend, fix your hair, and go find some nice natural light.