Does My LinkedIn Profile Really Need a Photo?

by Meg Guiseppi on December 5, 2011

Linkedin Chocolates

If you think that HAVING a photo on your LinkedIn profile (and elsewhere online) may red-flag you for discrimination – age, weight, ethnic background, etc. – think about this.

NOT having a photo can be a red flag, too.

Discussions persist over whether including your photo can cause people to discriminate against you. My c-level executive clients – typically over 50 years of age – are understandably worried that they’ll suffer from age discrimination. You can minimize the age issue by not including earlier career history in the “Experience” section, but a photo could well show age.

Your reasoning for not including a photo may be that you hesitate “putting yourself out there” so visibly. Although you know that for executive job search and networking, you have to be on LinkedIn, you resisted putting up a profile in the first place.

You didn’t really want to have an online presence at all, but you slapped up a LinkedIn profile because you felt you had no choice. But you feel that adding a photo will make you way too visible online.

You may have good reason not to include a photo, but I encourage you to include one. The benefits far outweigh the pitfalls.

Think about the recruiters and hiring decision makers at your target companies who click through to your LinkedIn profile. The first thing they’ll notice is your photo . . . or lack of one. If you have no photo, their initial thought will likely be “What is this person trying to hide?”

One of the strategies you should be using with your LinkedIn profile is branding yourself to differentiate the qualifications and qualities you possess from your competitors. Branding is also about creating emotional connections.

People connect easier and believe content more when it’s accompanied by the author’s photo. They’re more likely to reach out to someone when they can “see” the person. Your photo helps to personalize and humanize your brand-driven content.

Why NOT having a LinkedIn photo is NOT a good idea:

  • You can be perceived as not understanding how to use LinkedIn. It can make you seem out-of-touch with current technology and trends. You can appear to be technically incapable of loading on a photo.
  • “Fake” LinkedIn profiles do exist. Those without photos may be perceived as not belonging to real people.
  • Lack of a photo keeps your profile from being 100% complete, according to LinkedIn’s criteria. Profiles that ARE 100% complete are more likely to show up higher in search results, giving them an advantage over “incomplete” profiles.
  • LinkedIn research indicates that profiles with pictures are seven times as likely to be viewed as those without.

Choose your LinkedIn photo wisely. This is the first thing people are likely to see when they open your LinkedIn profile. Select an appealing photo that strikes the right image and professional tone for your industry and niche.

Remember that your LinkedIn photo isn’t only visible when people click through to your profile. It also shows up with all of your status updates, group discussion comments, contributions to LinkedIn Answers — any of your activity on the site — so make it be a positive reflection of you.

Related posts:

LinkedIn Guide for Executive Branding and Job Search

My free e-book: Executive Branding and Your LinkedIn Profile: How to Transform Your Executive Brand, Resume, and Career Biography Into a Winning LinkedIn Profile

LinkedIn: Best Tactic for Undercover Executive Job Search

29 Biggest LinkedIn Mistakes

photo by nan palmero

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