Regardless of industry, profession, and experience level, pretty much everyone can benefit from a professional LinkedIn profile. This is true whether you’re beginning your job search, happily employed, seeking new opportunities, or running a company.
Everything from your work history and education to your skills and connections influences how you are viewed by connections and potential employers. These factors all contribute to your personal brand and professional online presence.
But when it comes to making a great first impression, the most important part of your LinkedIn profile isn’t your many accolades—it’s your LinkedIn profile photo.
It might sound superficial, but your profile picture is the first thing prospective employers and clients notice when they visit your profile.
The good news is that you don’t need a studio or fancy photography equipment to take a LinkedIn photo that makes a professional impression. With the right tips and tools, anyone can take an awesome LinkedIn photo on their own.
This guide will help you learn to create your own high-quality LinkedIn profile pictures at home—without blowing your budget on a professional photographer or editor.
Wondering why you should put extra care into taking a LinkedIn profile picture? Unless you’re a professional model, it’s not about looking the best—but about putting your best foot forward.
The right photo is key to creating a positive first impression, building your personal brand, and making your profile as professional, approachable, and authentic as possible.
Here's a deeper look at the best reasons to use a high-quality LinkedIn profile picture.
Using a professional image as your profile photo will:
Now that you know some of the benefits of having a high-quality LinkedIn profile picture, let’s go over some LinkedIn photo tips that will help you take a professional headshot at home (without hiring a professional!).
You can begin planning your perfect LinkedIn photo before you even pick up a camera. Start by looking at what your peers and mentors are using for their profile photos, which pictures you’re most drawn to, and why they work well.
Not sure where to turn for inspiration? Consider whether there’s someone you admire in your field or search for a specific job title you’re hoping to hold one day. Check out the profiles of people you look up to.
You should also see what industry all-stars and influencers are doing to cultivate their professional online presence—and use it for inspiration when taking your own LinkedIn profile picture.
Selfie sticks are generally not the way to go if you want to convey professionalism in your photo. To avoid blurry, out-of-focus images and awkward angles, consider pairing up with a friend or get your hands on a tripod or phone stand.
If you’re in the market for a new LinkedIn profile, chances are you know someone else in a similar boat. Make a deal with your friend to take photos of each other so you can both get a new professional headshot.
Or, if you’d rather direct your own photoshoot, make use of a tripod or phone stand (or sturdy piece of furniture at an appropriate height). If you go this route, try to stand about three meters back from the camera and use a reliable self-timer so you can get into position without feeling rushed.
Overhead lighting—especially the fluorescent lights in office buildings—tends to bounce off faces awkwardly. This can either cast shadows on your face or result in unnatural bright spots. A shiny complexion can read as nerves and reduce trust in your abilities, so you want to avoid lighting that creates too much sheen.
Unless you purchase a ring light or lightbox specifically for photography, it’s a gamble to rely on artificial lighting for your LinkedIn photo. Instead, take your photos by a window or outdoors to ensure you have lots of natural light. In either case, you still need to think about what direction the light source is coming from.
If you’re indoors, position yourself so you’re facing toward a window, rather than standing in front of it (otherwise your face will be difficult to see in the photo).
If you’re outdoors on a sunny day, standing in direct sunlight might not work depending on the time of day. If the sun is in your eyes, you could end up squinting. If it’s directly above you or to the side, it could cast shadows on your face.
The absolute best conditions for capturing your profile photo? Outside on an overcast day.
Maybe you’re wondering if you should stage your home office or hang a sheet to pose in front of. The good news is that you don’t need to put too much effort into creating the perfect background for your LinkedIn profile.
You don’t want the background to distract from your photo or take away from your professionalism. It’s best to stand in front of a simple, solid color backdrop—like a bare wall, door, or uncluttered space.
We’ve all heard that we should dress for the job we want—and that’s exactly what you should do for your LinkedIn picture. Or rather, in this case, you should dress for the interview you want to land.
Even if you’re not in the market for an office job or a position with a dress code, you’d likely opt for a nice shirt, dress, or blazer for your interview. Getting dressed up as if you were attending an important interview is an easy way to elevate your LinkedIn profile picture.
It’s amazing how much body language can be conveyed in a photo of someone’s face. We all recognize eye contact as a sign of mutual respect, assertiveness, and attentiveness. Looking into the lens creates a more open, confident impression than gazing off camera.
What about your facial expression? According to best practices for professional headshots, smiling in your LinkedIn picture makes you seem more approachable—which could encourage more people to reach out and make a connection.
One study looked at 800 profile pictures and found that smiling in your profile photo increases viewers’ perception of your likeability and competence. And a toothy grin can do even more for your first impression, with study participants rating pictures with toothy smiles as twice as likable as closed-mouth smiles.
But most importantly, you should choose an expression that looks and feels natural. So, if you’re outgoing and eager to network, a wide smile can indicate that you’re open to connections. But if you’re a particularly serious or somber person and want that to come across in your photo, smiling certainly isn’t required.
Just because it’s called a headshot doesn’t mean you should only include your head. On the other hand, it’s not a great idea to include a full-body shot (it can come off as less professional since it’s simply not necessary). So, try not to leave too much space in the frame or crop it too tightly.
Struggling to find the right balance? The best LinkedIn profile pictures feature your face and part of your upper body (typically the top of your shoulders and maybe part of your upper chest).
Note: Including part of your torso gives you an extra opportunity to communicate through body language. For example, an open posture with your arms on your hips or by your sides can create a more approachable image, whereas crossing your arms can create a more closed-off persona.
If your photos don’t turn out 100% perfect, don’t panic! As long as you have a few promising shots, you can use an editing tool to create one that’s worthy of your LinkedIn profile.
You don’t need to go overboard with Photoshop in order to make your DIY photo look truly professional. Instead, you can download an easy-to-use editing app and make a few simple tweaks on your phone.
For instance, if the color or brightness feels off due to the lighting, or you aren’t happy with the way your wallpaper clashes with your shirt, you can clean up the photo with Pixelcut. It’s a fast, free, and easy-to-use app for anyone who wants to create or edit high-quality images.
Now that you know what you should do to take a fantastic LinkedIn photo, let’s go through some of the biggest “should nots” of LinkedIn pictures.
Here are some of the most common mistakes to avoid when choosing your LinkedIn photo:
Creating the perfect LinkedIn profile picture goes beyond snapping a quick photo of you in your best dress shirt. Thankfully, Pixelcut makes it simple to edit images, remove or add backgrounds, adjust brightness, and play around with other effects.
Think it sounds too good to be true? See just how easily you can turn a photo into a professional LinkedIn-quality image with Pixelcut.
Here’s a quick guide to show you how it’s done:
Step 1: Upload Your Pic
Start by downloading Pixelcut (if you haven’t already) and then choose a photo to upload.
Step 2: Swipe to Remove the Background
Need to remove or retouch the original background for a more professional image? Easy peasy.
With just a few taps, you can remove the original background and replace it with something more appropriate. On a platform like LinkedIn, simple backgrounds tend to work best for profile photos.
For example, you could swap in a studio-style background image to make it look like you had professional headshots taken—even if they were actually shot at home on your smartphone.
Step 3: Adjust Brightness and Filters
If you need to make any minor adjustments to your photo before updating your LinkedIn profile, you’ve got a ton of options at your fingertips. Use Pixelcut to quickly correct colors, brightness, and shadows in your photo (so you’ll always look your best!).
Play around with the settings until your photo looks just right, retouch imperfections if you’d like to, and try out some subtle effects. You can also add text or banners to highlight the fact that you’re open to new work.
Step 4: Crop
Finally, you can crop the photo to remove any excess white space. Ideally, your head and upper body should take up most of the frame without feeling crowded. You want to fill about 66% of the shot and leave a comfortable margin around your head.
The end result? A LinkedIn-ready portrait that showcases your professionalism.
Want to turn a photo of yourself into a high-quality LinkedIn profile photo? Join Pixelcut today and create a professional image profile photo that will help build your personal brand and make a positive first impression every time.