In July, I made an offer that as a free gift, I would evaluate five of my newsletter subscribers’ LinkedIn profile pics. I chose randomly from the applicants to give suggestions on where they can make improvements. These guys were brave, agreeing to be critiqued in public like this! (I warned them that they needed to be thick-skinned to apply.) Huge props to the guys who did. See below for the 5 reviews. And if you aren’t on my newsletter list, definitely check it out, as I make offers like this frequently.
Fran, you have an open facial expression, which is very appealing. Busy backgrounds are usually not a good idea, but the trees in your picture mesh together, and your face pops against them so we don’t lose you in the background. Given your profession as a chaplain, these elements of openness are a bonus. The main thing I’d change about your picture is that I’d much rather see you in a button-up shirt or even a nice sweater than a plain t-shirt. Simply put, it’s more professional. There’s also something about the way your face is skewed to the diagonal that makes my brain hurt a little! The shot would be better if it was straight on so people don’t have to tilt their heads to look at you.
Hi Terry, thanks for the nice note you included in your entry. Here’s what I think you can improve upon with your profile pic — overall, the image feels dated to me with that colorful mottled background. For a studio shot, you’re better off with plain white behind you instead. If you’re going to redo these, I’d also suggest you get (and use) a higher resolution image so it doesn’t look as fuzzy on screen, and when you crop it before uploading, I want to see more of what you’re wearing on top. I like to think of a suit, shirt and tie as a portrait themselves, and it’s distracting that we only catch the top part of your tie. Try to show more to waist level or the bottom of your breastbone, and make sure you’re centered in the image when you crop it too. You’re smart to be wearing a solid shirt (solids photograph easily), but white can look stark in pictures, so I’d suggest a different solid like light blue instead. In terms of the content of the image (aka you!), I know it’s hard if you aren’t comfortable being photographed, but it would be great if you could give more of a natural smile. A good photographer will be able to help you relax and be more yourself in the moment during the shoot.
Hey Rob, your image is another where my eye immediately gets distracted by the background. You get lost in front of the tree, lights, snow, decorations, and pine cones — that’s a lot of stuff going on behind you that isn’t related to your work! It’s cool to take your pic outside or look for an interesting background, but it should be neutral and not distracting. My advice: keep it professional and get the seasonal stuff out of there. Check out point #4 in this post on how to get good headshot photos, and also this portfolio of client images on my website for ideas on better backgrounds. Your outfit, too, is a little casual for a LinkedIn shot (definitely looks like this is a pic that was taken socially but that you’re using for business). I’d suggest the same shirt with a sportcoat or suit jacket instead. Otherwise, your smile is fantastic — you come across as very personable and likeable, a can-do guy!
Chris, I love how you come across in this image as having a fun, upbeat personality. Who wouldn’t want to work with someone with that energy?! With your sales job, being magnetic in that way is key. A few things for you — see if you can crop the image so that the top of your hair doesn’t get cut off and so that we can see more of your upper body. Cut it to mid-chest at least. That said, the shirt you’re wearing is too busy for a headshot (which may be why you cropped it so much!). Busy patterns are distracting to the viewer. So, eventually, you should look to have a new pic taken wearing a solid color or less busy pattern instead. Finally, there is nothing like a gleaming white smile, especially if you’re selling things. Check out some of those tooth whitening toothpastes or Crest whitestrips and/or, if you know someone who’s good with photoshop, you can have him or her whiten your teeth couple shades. It’ll brighten you up and make you even more appealing!
Calvin, you clearly put time and energy into this shot, and it shows. I like how you’re looking off to the side — it’s different from the standard straight-on shot, and with your line of work being creative, it’s compelling. The first thing my eye is drawn to though is a dark line that cuts across the top of your image, skirting your hairline. Can your photographer edit that out? It would make a huge difference. I’m also not wild about the grey suit against the grey background, as it gets a little lost, but the windowpane pattern on your suit does make it stand out somewhat. Like I said, you clearly put effort into creating this shot, and a lot of things about it work — the patterns in your suit and tie are the right scale for a headshot (i.e., not too small). The charcoal grey suit picks up on the grey in your hair, and your skin pops against your vibrant blue shirt. In terms of your outfit, the two things I would change are your pocket square and lapel pin. The pocket square is too close to your shirt color but not exact — it looks like you were trying to match it but didn’t quite execute. Rather than matching your pocket square to a major element in your look (i.e., your shirt), you’re better off with a square in a color that picks up on a minor color elsewhere in the outfit. A light grey like the one in the pattern of your tie or the windowpane of your suit jacket would be better — it will be a more nuanced look. You might even be able to have the color of your square photoshopped so you don’t have to reshoot. Finally, the lapel pin. It’s a great detail for in-person, and it suits you and the creative image you’re putting out there, but it doesn’t translate in pictures. To someone who doesn’t know what a lapel pin is, it will be confusing and distracting (it almost looks a little like a microphone!). It’s a nice touch, and it suits you, so save it for in-person appearances.
Thank you so much to everyone who entered. You guys are awesomely bold putting yourselves out there for critique like this — I know it isn’t easy! I’ll be doing more contests like this in the future, so if this sort of thing interests you, make sure to sign up for my list so you can find out about it.
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