3 Tips For Taking a Great LinkedIn Profile Picture (& 1 Thing You Should Avoid)

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Don’t get us wrong: Your LinkedIn profile picture that was snapped at a happy hour in 2009 (with the red eye edited out, of course) is cute, but it might not be *the* photo that helps you land the big job. Which is why we’ve culled together a handful of do’s—plus one big don’t—for snapping a better and more professional LinkedIn headshot.

Do: Stand in Front of a White (or Neutral) Background

Think about it. You’ve got approximately an inch or two of real estate on your LinkedIn profile for your photo to make an impression.  A busy background is distracting and won’t help your cause, while a neutral setting will look way more polished.  A white wall might be your first option simply because it’s easy to find, but you could also hang a sheet in a shade of soft gray or blue and stand in front of that to get your shot. Better yet, find a textured wall outside or use a natural setup (say, a distant water view) as your backdrop. If you’re taking the photo with your phone, toggle the camera mode to “Portrait” to create a soft blur et voilà! You’re already one step closer to a totally professional pic.

Do: Wear What You’d Wear to Work

If you work in finance, a suit makes sense. If you’re a digital designer, choose an outfit that shows off your individual style. Before settling on an outfit, your gut check should be: Would I wear this to a meeting with my boss? If the answer is yes, it’s a go for your LinkedIn profile pic. Just be sure to keep in mind that the top half of your body is what will be featured in the shot. The reason for this is that you want your face to take up 80 percent of the frame. (It is a headshot, after all, and the number one way people will recognize you on search pages.)

It also means your hair, makeup, top, blazer, dress—whatever outfit you decide on—will be what’s on display.

Do: Choose the Right Expression

This may surprise you, but a study of over 800 LinkedIn profile pics found that people find you to be more likeable, competent and influential if you smile. That likeability score goes up even more if you show your teeth in your grin. That’s not to say you should pose in a manner that doesn’t feel authentic to you, but that you should find a relaxed expression that feels genuine. To achieve this, lifestyle photographer Ana Gambuto says there are a couple of tactics: If you’re standing for your profile pic, try jumping in the air, then smiling once you land. (It’s a move silly enough to elicit a true smile, she explains.) But if you’re sitting for your headshot, you could try shaking your head back and forth a few times before freezing and smiling. Both methods will help you loosen up.

Don’t: Go Overboard on Filters

When it comes to editing, it’s totally cool to bump up the brightness and reduce the shadows just a bit. Does this mean you should shave off 10 pounds and treat yourself to a new nose via Facetune? Or remove wrinkles and give your pic a sepia tint? Absolutely not. Reminder: A LinkedIn profile picture is an entry point for a future employer to get to know you. But if you misrepresent yourself, that very rarely goes over well.

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Royal family expert, a cappella alum, mom

Rachel Bowie is Senior Director of Special Projects & Royals at PureWow, where she covers parenting, fashion, wellness and money in addition to overseeing initiatives within...