A Great LinkedIn Profile Photo Example - Confident, Competent Contributor
A Great LinkedIn Profile Photo Example – Confident, Competent Contributor

by | Feb 8, 2023

What Makes A Great LinkedIn Profile Photo?

There is one thing everybody wants their profile photo to do; make them look great! Nobody I know selects a profile photo that is unflattering. But does every great photo of you qualify as a great – or more importantly, an effective – LinkedIn profile photo? No.

Here’s the bottom line. LinkedIn is a place for professionals looking for connections that will help in advancing their careers and businesses. It is a marketing platform, and your job is to market yourself as a confident, competent, and contributing member of the network and your profession.

Charles Cotugno, Seattle Headshot and Portrait Photographer

Let us take a look at some of your options for a LinkedIn profile photo.

Professional Headshot

Easily, by far, and by any other superlative, nothing will work better for you than a properly created professional headshot. What do I mean by properly created? Here are a few key points.

  • You are well lit.
  • Your eyes are well lit. They are the most important part of your image and must immediately draw the viewer’s attention
  • Your eyes are open just the right amount. Too wide and you look like a deer in the headlights and lacking confidence.
  • A basic, subtle background. Backgrounds that are busy take attention away from you as do backgrounds with very loud colors.
  • The right camera height. I see so many headshots where the camera is looking down on the subject. That means the viewer is also looking down on you, putting you in a position of weakness. You also want to avoid the camera being at such a low angle that it implies arrogance or superiority. Your headshot should have you appear about an inch taller than the viewer; enough to imply you are an expert in your field and can be trusted.
  • You have a great expression. One that reveals something about your personality while also showing you as confident and approachable.

There is one other important and widely overlooked advantage to using a professional headshot; very few people use them for their profile photos! That means you have an opportunity to stand out as a much more qualified and competent candidate, as opposed to the others you are competing against.

What some might see as a disadvantage of a professional headshot is the cost and time involved. Yes, it takes more on both fronts compared to other popular options. But your headshot is a vital part of your marketing and should be budgeted as such in both areas. I will say it again; humans are programmed to place a priority on visual cues – first impressions. You could be the most qualified person in the world in your profession. But when your image does not immediately make people identify you as such, they are likely to move on to other options without learning about your capabilities and qualifications.

Candid Photos

While they may do a great job of communicating your personality and enthusiasm, none are professionally created. They suffer from bad lighting, bad posing, and are sometimes even out of focus. A photo created at that typical distance and used for such a small image cannot highlight what a small profile photo is designed to highlight, your confidence and approachability.

Personality Photos

Personality photos, if they are professionally created, are best used for your branding, marketing, and websites. Yes, they might look great, but they are physically unable to have the same positive impact that a closer professional headshot has as your profile photo.

Crops From Larger Photos

Yes, you may look great in that group photo. But seriously, it is the opposite of professional. Many times, those crops end up too small to create a usable photo. They exaggerate bad lighting and the physical restrictions of having multiple subjects in a single exposure maintain focus, too.


They had better be good and tick all the boxes you get from a properly created professional headshot.

Something Comical

Are you a professional comedian? No? Ditch the comedy. A comical profile image does nothing to promote you as a professional. Even if you were a professional comedian, you will want to think twice about it. People hiring for corporate gigs want to see you as a person rather than a joke.

No Profile Photo

The worst! Not having a profile photo infers several negatives including:

  • You have setup a profile but rarely contribute or participate on LinkedIn. Fewer people will see you as a valuable connection or resource.
  • You are lazy and lack attention to detail. You could not be bothered to do something as simple as upload a profile photo.
  • You have something to hide.

True or not, none of these are traits you want viewers to infer about you.


Unless you have something so truly outstanding that, even as a tiny photo, it is so exceptional that no one can go on without seeing it, it is still best to use a standard professional headshot. That image will serve you better featured in a post, where people can click on it and see it for the amazing piece of art that it is.

Taking Your LinkedIn Profile Photo

Are you unsure whether a professional headshot is worth the effort for a LinkedIn profile photo or intimidated by the thought of standing in front of a camera? Read my 2023 Headshot Guide. In it, you will discover how getting a professional headshot can be comfortable or even a ton of fun!