Personal Branding and Your LinkedIn Profile Photo

by Meg Guiseppi on November 17, 2014


Over the past several years, a lively discussion has unfolded in the comments for my 3 year-old post, “Does My LinkedIn Profile Really Need a Photo?

LinkedIn Profile Photo - yes or no?

No doubt, discrimination in job search exists and your photo can expose you to discrimination based on age, weight, ethnic background, etc.

But I still contend that NOT having a photo may be even more detrimental, especially for the job seekers I serve – c-suite and senior-level executives. Executive recruiters have told me that they pass over profiles without photos. They wonder what that person is hiding.

In their comments to the above mentioned post, some people agreed with me, some disagreed strongly. Here are 3 comments suggesting that including a photo can jeopardize one’s chances.

Someone said:

“I got a lead for some illustration work through a friend who had shown my artwork to a potential client. The client emailed me about how beautiful my work was. When I replied, the client’s attitude really changed. I wondered what had changed so fast. Then I realized my picture was on the account. I immediately removed it. I am African American and I cannot express the different levels of discrimination alive and kicking. I am going to remove my picture from LinkedIn also.”

Another said:

“As a woman, there is no way I would publish my photo to Linkedin or any other social media site. It’s an open invitation to be stalked. Additionally identity thieves are now using site photos to facilitate more sophisticated crimes. I’d rather be jobless than a target.”

An HR professional commented:

“I still think that people should be judged by their education and experience and not how attractive they are. In addition, I also find it interesting that of all of the people who are dispelling the possibilities of discrimination, none of them are people of color. In addition, I think that from a sexual harassment perspective this opens up the chance of potential liability. As a Human resources business partner, coming across cases of sexual harassment has been a regular thing. By posting a picture of yourself on LinkedIn you run the possibility of being selected for a position simply because the individual hiring you may want a chance at giving you a lot more than a pay check.”

They each made valid points. Of course, everyone needs to weigh the pros and cons, and decide for themselves whether or not to include a photo on LinkedIn . . . or anywhere online. [Remember that when people are assessing you, they’ll Google “your name” and may find a photo of you in other places than LinkedIn.]

If you decide to include a photo, as I advise my clients to do, here are some tips:

As you’re branding your profile to showcase your good-fit qualities for the employers you’re targeting, keep in mind that your photo is also part of that branding.

A well-composed photo helps people make an emotional connection with you. It personalizes and humanizes your brand-reinforcing content. And it has been shown that profiles with photos get more views.

In selecting a photo for your profile, choose one in which you are facing to the right, so you are looking toward the content. This helps validate the content.

Remember that your photo follows you everywhere on LinkedIn . . . in your updates, Group activities, posts on the LinkedIn publishing platform, etc. Give people a reason to click through to view your profile.

What do you think? Is it better to include a photo on your LinkedIn profile?

More Information About LinkedIn for Executive Job Search

Personal Branding: How to Brand Your LinkedIn Summary Section

Finding a Job in the “Hidden” Job Market

How to Use the New LinkedIn for Executive Personal Branding

Connect on LinkedIn with People You Don’t Know . . . and Get Action

How to Make Your LinkedIn Profile Professional Headline SEO-Friendly

Does LinkedIn Make the Executive Resume Obsolete?

 graphic on pixabay


{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Meg Guiseppi November 18, 2014 at 7:36 am

Thanks for commenting, Catherine. I agree it might be a better world if photos on LinkedIn weren’t the accepted practice, allowing people to judge us by our looks before anything else. Unfortunately, as you said, we could be sabotaging our chances if we don’t include a LinkedIn (or other online) photo.

2 Catherine November 17, 2014 at 7:35 am

I think in an ideal world there would be no opportunity to attach a profile photo, it would create a leveller playing field.

However, I think if you are using linkedin for networking/job opp reasons, to not attach a photo limits means you will be on occasion …. in fact, frequently, overlooked.

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