UNYP student guide to the perfect LinkedIn profile picture

Previously we have talked about organizing and maintaining a professional-looking online presence for current UNYP students and recent graduates. Now it’s time to get more specific and discuss something that is a stumbling block for many young professionals – your LinkedIn profile picture. As you might know from your Marketing or Digital Photography classes, a good photo is a critical element for your LinkedIn presence. Of course, the best way is to hire a professional photographer to take some headshots in the studio, but this can get rather pricy. In this article, we will discuss eight basic strategies for making an excellent professional-looking portrait using just your smartphone – and possibly the help of a friend who is studying Digital Media Arts at UNYP! 

Eight tips for creating a solid LinkedIn profile photo on a student budget

But which one’s you?

You might have a great photo that shows you presenting your research at the ISRC, looking smart in more ways than one. Of course, it is excellent to show recruiters that you are engaged in academic and professional activities, but it is crucial to make sure that there are no other people in the shot – someone who has never met you before won’t be able to tell which person is you! To leave everyone with no doubt as to what you look like, choose a solo photo for your profile pic, or crop yourself out of the group shot if possible. Make sure that there are no random hands or shoulders straying into the frame. If you have a great photo that showcases your professional experience but can’t be successfully cropped, don’t discard it altogether – it might work as a banner photo. 

Go easy on FaceTune!

With so many face-tuning apps available online, many people have a habit of heavily editing their portraits. For your LinkedIn photo, pick a picture that will give potential employers a clear idea of what you’d look like if they met you at the interview tomorrow. The same goes for photos taken ten years ago, images from costume parties, and photos were taken before you started wearing glasses or dyeing your hair. 

Don’t skimp on pixels

The current LinkedIn profile picture size is 400 x 400, and the background photo size 1584 x 396. The platform has this requirement for a reason; photos smaller than that will appear pixelated and shabby. If you are not familiar with image sizing, it is easy to quickly check the dimensions on your computer. Simply right-click on the image, select Properties, and go to the Details tab to see the image’s dimensions and resolution.  An appropriate photo should be between 1 and 8MB. 

It’s all about your face

Your face should occupy at least 60% of the photo, so save that picture of yourself ascending a far-off mountain peak for Instagram. Think of your LinkedIn photo as an image attached to your resume, and crop the photo from just above your head to the top of your shoulders to make it about your facial expression. 

Use the timer, or get a little help 

While it’s perfectly fine to use a photo taken with a phone, it’s probably best to avoid using selfies. You don’t want the image to look too low-key. Set your phone up on some furniture or one of those smartphone tripods, and use the timer. Even better, ask one of your friends to take a photo of you – you’ll probably find that your pose is more natural and comfortable. 

Take inspiration from the pros

Put together a Pinterest board of headshots of your favorite public personas. Scroll through the byline photos in Forbes, Entrepreneur, and The Economist. Politicians and famous entrepreneurs work with professional image-makers, best photographers, and stylists. Pay attention to the nuances of expression and pose that you think might work for you. Take some time to practice your expression in front of a mirror. Is the photo taken on location, or in front of a plain background? Natural light, or with a softbox? What are they wearing? What is the color scheme of the overall shot?

Nothing to wear?

For a LinkedIn profile photo, you should wear what you’d wear to work. Of course, every job and workplace has a different atmosphere and dress code, so stay true to yourself and your field. Make sure that your outfit is ironed and clean, and remember that solid colors tend to look best on camera. 

Light it up!

Harsh fluorescent overhead lighting can change your coloring and create strange shadows on your face. Even if you have a perfect white, gray, or plain-colored wall in your place, you may not achieve a softbox effect with a regular lamp. Multiple lamps in your house can have different color tones, which could create another problem. If you are using a smartphone, natural light usually produces the best effect. Avoid direct sunlight; it is better to choose an overcast day or go out when the sun is setting. 


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