5 Embarrassing Mistakes Professionals Make On Their LinkedIn Profile Photo

by | Apr 5, 2023

You never get a second chance to make a great first impression.

If you are making a bad first impression on LinkedIn, there’s a risk that it’s negatively affecting your career and business prospects.

Here are some stats on LinkedIn’s impact:

  • LinkedIn has become the world’s most popular professional social network with over 900 million global users. (via LinkedIn 2023 Annual Report)
  • 95% of professional recruiters report regularly using LinkedIn to find and screen job applicants. (via Forbes)
  • 52% of business buyers report that LinkedIn was the most important source of information through the research phase of their business purchase. (via DemandBase survey)

Without any further ado, here are the 5 embarrassing mistakes professionals make on their LinkedIn profile photo:

Mistake #1: Profile Photo Is More Than 2 Years Old

Me (the author) two years ago vs me in 2023 (Don’t ask me about the mustache…)

The first, and most common mistake, is having a photo that’s just out of date.

Over time, our face, our hair, and our eyes tend to change. So, if you haven’t updated your headshot in the last two years…it’s time. 

You don’t want to show up to a job interview, sales call, or networking event looking completely different from your profile photo. 

Mistake #2: Inappropriate Clothing/Background For Industry or Job Title

linkedin profile photo mistakes
Formal on the left vs casual on the right

The second most common mistake is having a photo that’s completely inappropriate for your target industry. 

If you’re looking for a job in corporate finance, you can’t have a casual photo in your backyard. 

If you’re looking for a job at a tech startup, you can’t have a corporate stuffy photo with that nasty gray felt backdrop in the back.

Mistake #3: Using a Selfie  

linkedin profile photo mistake selfie vs pro headshot
A Selfie vs real Professional Headshot (There’s no comparison on which person looks more professional)

The third biggest mistake is using a selfie as your LinkedIn profile photo. 

Please, please don’t do that. 

Frankly, using a selfie there just makes it look like you didn’t care enough to go get your photo taken.

Since we’ve been little kids, most people have not enjoyed having their photo taken. 

Mistake #4: Using a Graduation, Wedding, or Vacation Photo

Many studies have shown that photos obviously taken from other uses make you look less professional and credible.

The fourth most embarrassing mistake is using a graduation, wedding, or vacation photo. 

If you’re using one of those wedding photos with someone’s shoulder kind of cropped out in the corner, or a wedding photo with you a couple beers deep, or a graduation photo with that graduation sash across you, you are not fooling anyone. 

Even if that photo was taken with a professional camera, people can tell just from the attire and the background that you repurposed that from something else.

Again, it makes it look like you cut-corners in your work and professional life.

Mistake #5: Profile Not Taken By Headshot Photographer

The first photo has harsh lighting hitting the subject’s face. The middle photo has no retouching and an awkward expression. The right photo (taken at HeadShots Inc), has flattering lighting, good editing, and a winning clothing and background combination.

The fifth biggest mistake is to use just any ol’ photographer for your profile photo. 

For most entrepreneurs, executives, lawyers, or professionals, your profile photo is your #1 most important (and sometimes only) personal marketing asset.

The first impressions that are created by your photo, may impact what jobs you get, what clients you sell to, and how far you go in your career.

A professional headshot photographer will know how to:

  • Pose you in flattering angles that make you look confident and charismatic.
  • Get you comfortable and relaxed so you get great expressions for the camera.
  • Recommend the most appropriate background and clothing for your specific situation.
  • Keep an eye on details you won’t see like mis-aligned jewelry, wrinkles on clothing, and objects in the background.
  • “Retouch” (aka edit) distracting acne, stray hairs, yellow teeth so that you look your best.
  • Actually deliver the photos on time so you can upload them promptly.

An amateur won’t know how to do any of those things, and you won’t get the impact you’re looking for.


That’s a wrap!

Interested in working with us? Go to our Individual Headshot Pricing page.

Your LinkedIn profile photo is a powerful way to make a good first impression, so don’t catch yourself making one of these mistakes.

Invest in your profile photo with a professional headshot, and you won’t regret it!

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