The photo you use for your profile on social media and professional sites is prime real estate. This is the face of your online brand, right? This picture is what comes up on an internet search by a potential employer, colleagues looking at your LinkedIn profile, and networking contacts. People are normally visually-oriented, and that profile pic is what their eyes go to first. So why waste that advantage?
- No profile pic at all is like saying you don’t care — so why should they care?
- Using a logo markets that logo, not your career
- Poorly lit, grainy photos don’t say much about your professionalism
- Selfies rarely look like anything but selfies (and please, NO FISH LIPS!)
- Wild party profile pics look like HR nightmares
- Your kid is cute, but they aren’t hiring your baby. The sames goes with pics of you and your significant other. Don’t use those for your professional pic–unless you co-own a business together and are building your brand based off of that
- Using a different profile pic for each site weakens the impact of your brand
If you want to maximize the potential of your profile pic, think seriously about what it looks like and where you put it.
Having the same photograph as the face of your online brand on all your profiles; LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, your blog, etc. gives you consistency. People associate consistency with reliability, and that instant recognition of your photo acts as a logo for your brand. But the photograph itself also matters quite a bit, so it should be excellent. You can set up proper lighting and background then use a timer, but it generally will work much better if a photographer friend takes your picture or you opt for a professional session.
Background should reflect your industry or be a color flattering to you. Lighting should come from several sources to avoid weird shadow effects (this is why self-portraits rarely work well) and smiling is more appealing than a deadpan mug shot. You should be dressed the way you would be at a job interview and look professional. It’s a good idea to renew your profile pics once a year so they are current.
Your online brand is a combination of everything someone like a potential employer can find about you on the internet. Your profile pic is the face of your online brand, and profile development should include making sure you aren’t wasting its potential.