With Halloween fast approaching, I got to thinking about things that scare me in relation to the job search. Although there are, in fact, quite a few areas that inspire an Edvard Munch style scream, I quickly settled on LinkedIn profile pictures.  Choosing an image of yourself to represent your professional offering on LinkedIn is an important choice, but the resulting pictures can often be the stuff of nightmares!

With this in mind, I thought it would be useful to outline 10 scarily bad LinkedIn profile images, and getting in the spirit of the exercise, I decided to demonstrate them. Last week, Caroline and I got together and howled with laughter as I tried out the various poses and she captured the images, hands shaking with mirth rather than fear.

It’s important to get your LinkedIn profile image right, so why not check out these wrong’uns below to assure yourself that your current image doesn’t have any of these frightful features? If it does, there’s time to change it, and that time is now!

So, without further ado, I present my ‘Hammer House of Horrible LinkedIn Profile Pictures’, recreated for you here by yours truly, so you know what not to do.


#1 The one where the image is poor quality

Grainy, blurry, and pixelated images won’t cut the mustard on LinkedIn. Your image needs to be clear, sharp, and high quality so that your network and new connections can tell that this really is you.

My son saw this and pointed out that I look like a character from Minecraft, which had us both in stitches.




#2 The one with bad lighting

Bad lighting is a no-no, it can obscure the clarity of the image, and create a dull and dingy, rather than positive, impression.



#3 The one that’s a selfie

The selfie has truly got into the population’s psyche in 2014, even inspiring the love-it-or-hate-it track ‘but first, let me take a selfie’. Infectious or narcissistic, the selfie doesn’t belong on LinkedIn.  Arms extended in full view, mirror pout on display, eyes struggling to focus on the lens, and weird camera angles don’t create the most professional impression.

If you really can’t find someone to take a photo for you, and feel the need to resort to a selfie, then make sure it’s not so obvious.



#4 The one with an inappropriate background

If the background to your LinkedIn profile image is weird or wonderful, it may get more attention than the actual subject, you.

Choose your background carefully to make sure you don’t reveal more than you want to or, indeed, expose personal situations that are best kept off LinkedIn.



#5 The one that’s just inappropriate

Images of you captured in a social, rather than professional, context can stick out like a sore thumb on LinkedIn.

If you’re hot stuff or a party girl, that’s fine, but save those pictures for Facebook (if you really must share them), and remember to turn your privacy settings on!  Similarly, images that are too personal can look odd.

Just keep the context in mind, a professional network, and you shouldn’t go far wrong.



#6 The one that makes you look like a moody so-and-so

If you look like a right old grump in your LinkedIn profile, it’s not going to tempt someone to connect with you, or call you for an interview.

Moody might be your resting face, but make an effort, show some teeth, message your brain to add sparkle to your eyes, and look engaged.



#7 The one where we can’t see your face

These images are hard to decipher, the face is somehow obscured by other things – hands, clothing, other people, and so on and so forth.

The point of uploading a LinkedIn profile photo is to help others to recognise you.  If they can’t see your face, you’ve missed the point.



#8 The one where you look like a pinhead

These LinkedIn images have far too much space above and around them, the subject is really far away, and you find yourself squinting to see who is pictured.

Don’t be a pinhead, make it easy for your network and new contacts to recognise your face.

pinhead 2



#9 The arty-farty one where you look like a poser

Some people’s LinkedIn photos ooze attitude and self-appreciation.

This kind of image comes in many confident forms, but inevitably leaves the viewer thinking “Well, they clearly think a lot of themselves!”



#10 The one that’s a faceless man

The most frightening LinkedIn profile image of all is the faceless man, so scary that those who see him can’t even describe his features. He’s the guy you see when you don’t upload a profile picture.

Don’t unleash him on your network, they’ve seen him before and they aren’t keen to repeat the experience!



Getting it right can be tricky.  Although I have given the gruesome snaps above a miss, I still feel that my LinkedIn profile image isn’t quite up to scratch, so I’ve booked myself an appointment with a professional photographer to achieve a better result.  I’ll be documenting my experience and learnings in a follow up blog, with key tips on how to achieve the perfect LinkedIn profile image.

Lis McGuire

Lis McGuire

Lis McGuire is a professional CV writer at Giraffe CVs. She has 15 years of experience gained delivering interview-winning CVs and cover letters for professionals at all levels, helping individuals to stand out from the crowd in a highly competitive job market.
Lis McGuire
Lis McGuire