Ahhh, the dreaded profile picture! Not many people enjoy having their photo taken and having to look at it on the worldwide web on a daily basis, but our profile picture, particularly on LinkedIn, is vital for creating a visual connection with our audience and creating an impression (often an all important first impression) of us as business professionals. Whilst most people will invest in a professional mug shot, I'm still shocked (and slightly astounded) on a daily basis at seeing yet another inappropriate profile picture.
Here's my top 5 profile pictures that shouldn't exist on LinkedIn:
#1: The In-Car Selfie
Why? Why would being sat inside a car be a good time to take a selfie and use it as a professional profile picture? I really don't get it. Is it to show off the leather head rest in your car? Or demonstrate your ability to multi-task? Either way, it's just plain odd. Find an appropriate environment to take your profile pictures, keeping the background neutral and not distracting us with what could be lurking on the back seat!
#2: Duck-Face Dating Site Selfie
We've all seen them - the pout, the sultry expression, the fake lashes, the glam hair and the slightly-too-close-to-the-camera composition. LinkedIn has never been and (hopefully) never will be a dating site where your profile picture serves to seduce the next stalker. It's hard enough being female in the business world and being taken seriously, but I imagine it makes it even harder if the impression you're giving potential clients is that you're a party kinda girl. You don't have to look like a librarian, just be your usual professional you.
#3: The AA Membership Card Pic
I don't mean the Automobile Association here. Would you turn up for work, a client meeting or a job interview with a beer in your hand? I hope not. Even if you work at a brewery, I'm sure drinking on the job is frowned upon. Yet so many people use holiday snaps as profile pictures which is absolutely fine on Facebook, but really not OK on LinkedIn, especially if you're clutching a pitcher of sangria. Think about the impression you want to give prospective clients/employers - if the only pictures you have of yourself feature an alcoholic beverage, it says something about you that may not be a true reflection of you.
#4: The 'I was slimmer on my wedding day' pic
I know people work really hard to lose weight and look amazing for their special day, but unless you look like that everyday, it's not really a true indication of what you look like, especially if you've been married 20 years! Keep your picture current (within a couple of years or less if you change your look often). We all lose and gain weight and want people to see us at our best, but I'd hate to think people see my profile picture then when they meet me in real life think, 'wow, she's much bigger/older in the flesh'.
#5: The creepy web cam selfie
Selfies taken on your phone can look really obvious that you've taken it yourself, so I can see the temptation to use the web cam on your computer to take a photo which should look more natural. The problem is, it's often obvious it's a web cam shot with a blurry focus and the bedroom back drop. Let's be honest, it looks creepy! If you work from your bedroom, you can always take a trip outside to a local co-working space or hire a meeting room for a more professional backdrop.
You don't get a second chance to make a first impression, so invest in some professional photography...please!