LinkedIn is critical in today’s career search and starts with a smart picture
As veterans, most of us have really great pictures of ourselves doing something cool or possibly funny that we love from our time in the service. These include jumping out of planes, sitting on top of a tank, napping while you’re leaning on a bomb you loaded onto a plane (yes, I’ve seen this), etc. I have a great one of me in Panama looking extremely annoyed, which I take with me to every job to remind me how much worse things could be.
As cool as these pics are, they do not belong on LinkedIn.
LinkedIn is a great and necessary tool for today’s job search, and the photo you put up is an immediate reflection of who you are and how you handle yourself professionally. We’ve all seen pictures of people that generate a gut response, and we form an immediate impression of the person — rightly or wrongly. Often as we get to know the person in more detail, we find out if that impression was correct or not.
However, a hiring manager is not going to take the time to find out more about you and will immediately toss you to the side while looking for someone who creates a positive initial reaction. No matter how well you crafted your narrative, if no one makes it beyond your picture, it doesn’t matter.
As you select a great LinkedIn profile photo, remember these key elements:
- You Can Do It Yourself
- First and foremost, you do not need to get a professional headshot unless you’re going into senior level or C-Suite positions.
- A photo of you taken by a friend can serve you just fine as long as you select a good headshot and crop the photo so it’s primarily of the head and shoulders. I’ve taken a lot of LinkedIn profile photos for vets using my phone camera (most of which have pretty good resolution) in front of a brick wall or office setting.
- Face Front
- Your headshot should consist of you looking directly at the camera with your body turned a little to the left or right with a slight smile.
- A distance pic where people can’t see your face? No. Sunglasses? No. Wearing your bike helmet? No. Decked out in holiday apparel for the season? No. Sitting on top of a tank? No, unless you crop it so much you can’t even tell you’re on a tank, and then what’s the point?
- No Selfies
- Selfies are a bad idea, as are pictures of you that are a reflection in a mirror. Get someone to take a picture — actually, a number of pictures so you have a good one. Also, try to do it inside and out of direct sunlight (in front of you it can cause you to squint, and at your back it can darken out your face).
- Mind Your Background
- Be careful of the background you choose. You don’t want a background that draws more attention than you yourself. A neutral background is best. Also, you don’t want anything behind you that will cause someone to rule you out — political posters, favorite bands, anything with profanity, etc. This is obviously a great time to not use your favorite mugshot the local police department has for you.
- Ditch the Uniform
- I’m not going to say absolutely don’t use a picture of you in your dress uniform, but the truth is most of us have this picture for our promotion packets and we are not warm and friendly-looking in it. In fact, most of us look like we’re ready to pull out your lungs for saying the wrong thing.
- This is not an image you really want to convey unless you goal is to work for a private security firm. Most civilians have no idea what we do in the military, so let’s not scare them off.
Initially when I started this article, I was going to go into more detail on tips for your Linkedin profile, but honestly, if your photo is bad, why would my advice on any other aspect of your profile be of help? The hiring manager is already on to other profiles. So get this part squared away first to make sure you’re not missing out.
*This article was originally published on Every Veteran Hired.
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