Is Your LinkedIn Photo Giving The Impression You Want?

Photo: Courtesy of Mariah Barksdale.
If there's one key commonality between LinkedIn and Tinder, it's this: Your photo gives someone a first impression of who you are.
The trickiest part of choosing a LinkedIn photo is that there is no one-size-fits-all. "Know your audience," says Anna Akbari, PhD, the founder of Sociology of Style and author of Startup Your Life: Hustle and Hack Your Way To Happiness. While you always want to look confident, pulled-together, and professional, a professional look for someone applying for corporate positions is different than that for someone who is applying for creative positions.
But regardless of what field you're in, there are a few rules that apply across the board. The most important: Avoid the stiff portrait. "Be human — many professional headshots are groan-inducing," Akbari says. "In general, a believable, appealing backdrop, paired with a comfortable smile and bright eyes goes a long way." Opt for comfortable and natural rather than forced and fake.
While you probably want to avoid a backdrop that is overly cluttered, both neutral and colorful settings can work, and the latter may make the photo more interesting, Akbari says. You can pick a shoulders-up or full-body shot, but full-body images run the risk of looking more like a senior portrait than a professional photo if you aren't careful.
Click through to see what seven women's LinkedIn photos say about them, according to Akbari. Then take a second look at your own to see if it's giving the impression you want.
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Photo: Courtesy of Mariah Barksdale.
Mariah, 23, Marketing & Communications Intern

"The combination of fashion styling, the backdrop, and her expression emits creativity and exuberance," Akbari says. "An employer would expect her to be a creative non-conformist."
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Photo: Courtesy of Olivia Clark.
Olivia, 19, Student

"This photo communicates that she is part of the creative class," Akbari says. "Anything too corporate or buttoned-up is probably not on her radar."
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Photo: Courtesy of Ashley Sams.
Ashley, 24, Assistant Director Of Academic Marketing

"The bright, solid-colored background offers a striking frame for her," Akbari says. "Backgrounds are important, and yellow is an attention-grabbing color associated with happiness."
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Photo: Courtesy of Maricela Gonzalez.
Maricela, 25, Law Student

"Less formal or staged than the others, this snapshot strategically captures a Columbia University diploma in the background," Akbari says. "That communicates intelligence and an elite education, whether or not anyone reads her profile."
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Photo: Courtesy of Elin López León de la Barra.
Elin, 38, Sociologist

"A bit dark and a little out-of-focus, this image projects an air of mystery, which, depending on her field, could work for or against her," Akbari says. For example, it might not be ideal if she's applying for a more corporate position.
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Photo: Courtesy of Kasia Staniecka.
Kasia, 20, Filmmaker & Media Student

"Playful, casual, and anti-corporate — seems safe to say she does not work at an investment bank," Akbari says.
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Photo: Courtesy of Kara Salazar.
Kara, 24, Social Media Coordinator

"The soft lighting and full smile create a warm and inviting image," Akbari says. "She also gives the impression that she's staring directly at you, which creates a connection with the viewer."
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