10 reasons why your LinkedIn profile photo is important to me

Adrienne TomI published this post less than a year ago, but the need for a photo on your LinkedIn profile can’t be emphasized enough. 

One day a customer of mine came up to me appearing quite irritated and told me he had sent me an invite on LinkedIn. But I didn’t accept his invite, according to him. I asked him if he wrote a personalized message with his invite. Yes he did. I then asked him if he had a photo. No he didn’t. “Ah,” I said. “That’s why I ignored you.” This is one of my principles, as harsh as it sounds.

While many of my colleagues won’t connect with their customers/clients, I see no reason not to connect as long as my customers embrace the necessity of having a LinkedIn photo. If they don’t embrace it, they’re in for a disappointing LinkedIn campaign. One of my favorite things to say when I’m critiquing a customer’s profile that lacks a photo is, “What’s wrong with this picture?” I know, not very funny.

Jeff SheehanPerhaps I’m getting old and stodgy, but here are 10 reasons why your LinkedIn profile is important to me.

I recognize you. If you only have the default light grey ugly box in the photo area, I have no idea who you are. I’m terrible with names, so a face helps me. I feel closer to you, even if we live 3,000 miles away from each other.

Your photo tells me something about your personality. My photo tells people that I’m caring, sincere, and friendly. All of this is true. I’m assuming your photo would say what kind of person you are, creative, authoritative, welcoming, etc.

AntonYou’ve gone though the effort to have a professional photo taken of you. One of my jobseekers told me he had his photo taken for $50. This told me that, despite not having the resources, he felt that having a photo is important.

You know that having a photo will increase your chances of your profile being opened. I’m conservative when I tell my LinkedIn workshop attendees that their chances of getting their profile opened and read increases by 7 times. Some estimates are as high as 14.

You understand the importance of branding. It was commonly believed that a LinkedIn photo was either highly professional or business casual. Now people are breaking boundaries by posting photos that reflect what they do. Take a look at one of my connections (above left) who understands this concept.

Stevie PuckettOn the other hand…your photo is not inappropriate. Some that come to mind are those you’d post on Facebook where you’re captured partying, or you’re with family on the beach, or you’re using LinkedIn as a dating site.

You realize LinkedIn is a networking application, not your resume which doesn’t include a photo. LinkedIn members feel more comfortable networking with people we can see.

You’ve gotten over yourself. I’ll be the last to say that age discrimination doesn’t exist but it’s less prevalent than you think and employers are more suspicious when they don’t see your photo. Besides, who would want to work for someone who judges you on your age.

Hank BoyerYou’ve taken that step toward online networking. Scary, huh? For some of you it was enough to simply get online, but now you’re being told–by not only me–you need to disclose your identity. I salute those of you who are making that step, albeit a reluctant one.

Your photo is about you, not your company. Talk about not trusting someone. That’s how I feel when someone presents themselves as their company logo. The profile is about you and not your company–that’s why there are LinkedIn company pages.

When it comes to the LinkedIn photo, I want to know what people look like. I guess it’s as simple as that. That ugly light grey box is disconcerting to say the least; it says to me, “I’ve got something to hide.” If I’ve got nothing to hide, why should you?


Top left, Adrienne Tom

Second to right, Jeff Sheehan

Third to left, Anton Brookes

Fourth to right, Stevie Puckett

Fifth to Left, Hank Boyer

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7 thoughts on “10 reasons why your LinkedIn profile photo is important to me

  1. davidhuntpe

    Overall very insightful but I will disagree with one claim: that ageism is not as prevalent as believed.

    Go to any networking event specifically for people out of work and looking. Look at the demographics: with only a rare exception they’re over 40, many are over 50…

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    1. Things Career Related Post author

      David, there’s no denying ageism exists. More than we’d like to acknowledged, but as far as one’s LinkedIn photo goes, to have a LinkedIn profile sans photo is a big red flag. We can’t combat age discrimination; but we can present an image to fair employers that shows are value beginning with our photo.

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      1. davidhuntpe

        I do find it ironic. People are STRONGLY advised to not have a picture on their resume – something with which I agree – to avoid potential discrimination. Yet… people are STRONGLY advised to have a picture on their LI profile, but where’s the first place a potential employer will look? Your LI profile.

        I’m actually drafting an essay, tentatively entitled “Generation Ice Flow”.

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  2. Things Career Related Post author

    @David Hunt. I tell my customers that their resume has it’s own purpose, namely drawing the attention of the employer in response to an ad. Whereas the LinkedIn profile is a networking “document,” something that shows one’s personality, while also illustrating their value. If LinkedIn is for networking, a photo seems natural. A photo on a resume does not seem natural.

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  3. Words Matter Career Development-Elizabeth Husom

    I behind the original discussion eight ball here but to throw in another thought, I believe a LinkedIn photo helps a hiring manager envision a person at their company. Over the last five years, I’ve written at least 10 quick resumes for people of varying ages, backgrounds and body types who weren’t job seeking until a recruiter called them with an exciting possibility. No one was 30 years old and/or a swimsuit model. But 100% of their profiles included a nice, smiling picture.

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