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The Art of Choosing a Perfect LinkedIn Profile Picture

Yes, you need a photo taken by a professional photographer.

When it comes to the LinkedIn profile picture, we've seen it all. The silly faces. The poorly chosen outfits. The shots that are clearly lifted from college yearbooks. There are even folks out there who pose in their LinkedIn profile picture with their kids. Enough is enough.

For proper headshot etiquette, we reached out to social media guru Lissa Duty, the co-founder of digital marketing firm Rocks Digital and the author of Your LinkedIn Professional Network: How to Connect, Optimize, and Implement for Success. Follow her rules, and you'll be attracting corporate suitors faster than you can say "cheese." And for more great advice on becoming a better working professional, check out the 50 best ways to becoming a better man.

Get Professional Headshots

LinkedIn profile picture

"You absolutely need a professional headshot," says Duty. You can find plenty of photographers that will shoot your perfect LinkedIn profile picture rather inexpensively. But be warned: anything cheaper than 100 bucks and you're likely getting mediocre photos. Duty recommends a sweet spot of $225—and nothing more expensive than $500. And to make sure the photo is you—as opposed to you from two gigs ago—plan on updating the photo every three to five years. The point is, you'll want a photo you'd be proud enough of to hang on your walls.

Add a (Tiny) Personal Touch

LinkedIn profile picture

"LinkedIn has changed so much; it's even more like Facebook now," Duty notes. As such, job seekers have been posing more and more in so-called "personality poses," in futile attempts to attract profile views. Maybe this means the subject is leaning casually against a fence, or giving their best Blue Steel impression, or—may the gods of HR help these particular individuals—tanning on the beach.

Don't do this. Keep the headshot what it is: a headshot. If you must inject some personality, "a slight tilt or the head or a certain smile you do—that's perfectly fine and acceptable," says Duty. And if you're craving style elsewhere in your professional life, brush up on the 25 new rules of office style.

Stay In Your Lane

LinkedIn profile picture

When it comes to your LinkedIn profile picture, ask yourself this one question: "What kind of image do I want to portray?" The answer, Duty says, should be something along the lines of, "I'm a professional, I'm a serious guy, I'm successful, and these are the things I've accomplished."

Duty recalls colleague of hers. The guy had recently finished a marathon—an admirable feat, if not professionally relevant. Still, he had a photo of him running the road as his LinkedIn profile picture. "People who don't know him are going to see that and think, 'Is he a trainer? A coach? A professional athlete?' "

So if you're, for example, a lawyer, you'll certainly want to be suited up, with a staid, serious environment—say, a bookshelf stuffed with the whole collection of Moore's Federal Practice—behind you. The guy with the marathon photo? Well. He worked in marketing. So we don't recommend following his lead on that one—but if you want to follow his footsteps more literally, check out our tips for running a flawless race.

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Ari Notis
Ari is an editor specializing in news and lifestyle. Read more
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