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Originally published in April of 2014, this post is just as applicable today as it was 2.5 years ago. As we approach Fall, always a busy time in business, job hunting and networking, consider your LinkedIn profile photo and whether it really reflects your professional capabilities.

Selfies work for kids, teenagers and fun-loving adults of all ages. They work for Ellen Degeneres and her celebrity pals. They work for capturing once-in-a lifetime moments (like President Obama and Denmark’s Prime Minister Helle Thorning Schmidt ay at Nelson Mandela’s funeral).

Selfies mark our moments and characterize the times we live in. They are in the moment, fast moving and entertaining. I get that, I like that. My three daughters take selfies like I breathe — constantly. Selfies have a place in our world.

LinkedIn is not one of those places, in my humble opinion. Interestingly, I see more selfies than ever on LinkedIn. I can’t prove it, it’s completely anecdotal, but I think I see more since Ellen’s selfie success at the Oscars.

If your LinkedIn photo is a selfie, take no offense, but read on and consider why it might not be your best bet.

I have yet to see a selfie that doesn’t distort and change how you look, often not for the better. Typically the lighting is bad and the background is cluttered with people and things. The nature of a selfie means that you’re likely going to be looking down, which translates into a bad jawline, furrowed brows or your hair falling into your face.

Your LinkedIn photo is for professional engagement

Your LinkedIn photo should represent the best you. The professional you. We’ve written quite a bit about the value of your LinkedIn photo. The bar on quality professional head shots has now been set higher than ever and is worth the investment for your profile. If you read our blog, you know the importance we place on how your profile photo looks.

If you want to be taken seriously, you should have a professional photo, period. A good photographer (even one in your family) can capture your personality more effectively than a selfie will. Jazz it up with a pop of color, being outdoors, a simple but interesting background.

If you are in career transition, replace the selfie immediately. It doesn’t inspire confidence or interest on the recruiter or hiring manager’s part. If you consider yourself a professional brand, also replace the selfie immediately. Who wants to follow leaders who take their own picture? It’s not fun and whimsical on LinkedIn, it feels too casual and a tad too frugal.

Consider your LinkedIn photo an investment: hire a photographer, spend the $100-200. Change outfits or jackets and choose two or three good poses in different outfits. You can then change your photo periodically to keep it interesting and updated.

A rock-star career and a selfie don’t go together. It’s like an iPad without apps, a makeover without lipstick, or sports without box scores. It only sorta works and it doesn’t provide a complete experience for the person who comes to your LinkedIn profile.

If you are a student or young professional attempting to build a career, ask— no, beg — your parents for another loan, gift or investment. My guess is that if they have invested to this point for college, another hundred dollars spent in pursuit of a job will likely get a nod of approval.

And, I will admit, sometimes I see a selfie on LinkedIn and I do smile and maybe even laugh, but the better way to engage and entertain me is to tell a compelling story on LinkedIn. Maybe even more than compelling; clever and insightful definitely interests me.

If you think I might take this whole LinkedIn thing too seriously and I should lighten up on the photo, indulge me in one experiment. List ten of your top colleagues or competitors. Now go look at their LinkedIn profiles. By the way, we are not ranking according to looks but professionalism. How does your selfie stack up? Be honest.


This post was originally published on Intero Advisory’s website in April 2016. Please note that LinkedIn is constantly changing. While it’s current now it may not be in the coming weeks or months.

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