LinkedIn Poor HeadshotsAre you on LinkedIn? Do you love your headshot? When is the last time that you looked at your headshot or you updated it?

It’s a fact that most people who are on LinkedIn have a poor headshot, and that can work against you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The power of the Internet is that it never stops, it never sleeps. It can work for you or against you. Wouldn’t it be reasonable that everybody would do anything to have the Internet work for them? So, how is it that most LinkedIn photos are so poor? I believe that it is because people simply don’t know what makes a great headshot great. Here I’m going to give you some concrete examples of what to avoid.

Your business suit on the web

Think about this scenario: you are going to meet a very important person. They invited you for lunch to discuss something that will affect your future. How are you gonna dress? It would be reasonable to be dressed for the occasion, probably with a business suit.

Your headshot is your business suit on the web. If you post a selfie you are announcing to the world that you don’t care about your image.

What not to do

To make the point clear I decided to take a look a the suggestions provided by LinkedIn, in the “People you may know” section and see if any headshot there is a great one. I have blurred the names of the people to preserve their privacy. The purpose of this exercise is to understand what works and what doesn’t, not to criticise people. I’ll refer to each photo via the initial of the name.

Starting from top left:

E: I like a close crop but this one is too cropped. Part of the forehead is gone and the photo is clearly a candid, not a professional one. The lighting is unflattering and the grass in the background is a distraction. No confidence in the expression.
L: Another candid, not a professional photo. Lighting is harsh with terrible shadows on the face. The photo is obviously cropped from a larger image. The flowers in the background, in full focus, are a distraction, the expression is not confident.
S: Lines in the background cut the image into two sections and are distracting. The expression shows the subject in the middle of saying something. The harsh lighting is unflattering.
D: Oh yes, the “I don’t care about my image” image. While Eddie, the Iron Maiden mascot, is cool, having a cartoon for your image is as unprofessional as you can go. I would suggest deleting the profile altogether.
J: Day of the wedding photo, in B&W, too far away to be recognizable, distracting waves in the background. This is another example of “why are you on LinkedIn?” This is a social media network of professionals.
D: This is actually a nice photo. Clearly made by a professional, but it could be a bit better. The clutter in the background is distracting from the subject, the B&W makes it look dated, and the camera could be a bit closer so to make the subject more recognizable. The hands have no reason to be in the shot and take away screen real estate that could be used for the face. The expression is great: confident and approachable.
J: harsh, unflattering lighting, distracting lines in the background, overexposed in a few places, clearly a candid.
J: Not a profile photo. At this point, it’s better to delete the profile completely. This is saying: “I’m not serious about my professional life,” and who would go around saying that?
P: very unflattering lighting, baseball cap, and sunglasses, plus kid, say to the world: “I don’t care about my professional look.” Again, at this point it’s better to delete the profile because this is working 24/7 against the person.
M: Another cellphone-made photo, with a poor background and unflattering lighting. Shooting down diminishes the subject, making him look small. The expression is insecure and not doing anything to project experience and competence.
L: this is the capital sin of photos: sunglasses. Despite the toothy smile, hiding your eyes inspires diffidence in the viewer. The eyes are the most important part of a portrait and they should be prominent in the photo. Distracting background, too-wide crop, poor lighting.
T: Floating head. This is another example of the exaggerated crop. There must be some shoulders to support the portrait. A floating head is not flattering. Also, direct sunlight creates terrible, unflattering shadows all around the face.
T: more floating head, coupled with bad white balance. Depressing background, terrible lighting.
J: professional killer? If so, then this portrait could work, otherwise, the hat covering the eye is creating distance with the viewer. The profile is also not a good, confident look. The crop creates another floating head and overall, we have about 20% of screen space for the face. That is a terrible ratio. This person would be better off deleting her profile because her portrait is saying to the world: “stay the hell out of my way!”
J: This could have worked, but it has two main downsides: the expression is distant and diffident, and the gear in the background is very distracting.


Out of 15 profiles, only one had a passable headshot. Most images are so poor that they are actually negatively advertising the owner, with the result to push away employers, clients or professional connections. My headshots are designed to make you look great. I coach you during the session to help you get the great expression that advertises to the world what a great person you are. Call me today to start improving your online image: (843) 701-1138.