The benefits of having a professional headshot should be obvious. But just in case you need any more convincing, we have the numbers.

  • LinkedIn users who include a photo receive 21 times more profile views than users without one.
  • Profiles with a photo are 36 times more likely to receive messages.
  • Users with a professional headshot receive 14 times more views.

But as the last point hints, getting your photo done right makes a difference. There are two major areas to consider when choosing a LinkedIn profile photo: photo quality and your presentation.

Use a high-quality photo

First, your photo must be the right size and resolution for LinkedIn. The site asks for a minimum size of 400 x 400 pixels. For resolution, 72 dpi is a good place to start. Keep in mind that your picture file cannot be greater than 8MB.

Once you've got the technical part sorted out, it's time to get artsy

Consider your picture's background. While you can use a simple white background, colors can make your image pop and associate you with certain characteristics. For example, orange is often associated with optimism and longevity. You have to make sure your background isn't distracting. Make sure there are no other figures that stand out or unique landmarks to compete with you for attention.

When taking your profile photo, always consider lighting. Your photo should be clear and well-lit. If the lighting in your home is dark in the evening, wait until the morning for natural light.

Present your very best

With your photo quality, background, and lighting all set, the final piece of the puzzle is you.

For a successful LinkedIn photo, consider:

  • Cropping or framing
  • Clothing
  • Makeup or accessories
  • A smile

Most LinkedIn photos are cropped just below the shoulders, while some include the entire torso. No need for a full body photo, so that means you don't even have to change out of those pajama pants.

But your top is a different story. Make sure to wear a professional shirt. If you have a color that suits you well, now is the time to wear it. Keep makeup and accessories minimal for this photo shoot, because the focus is all about you. Your grooming and clothing say lots about you. The bottom line is that it's human nature to judge people on appearance, so make sure to look your best.

Finally, don't forget to smile. Psychologists found that we form first impressions from a picture in only 100 milliseconds. And a smile is one of the easiest ways to appear likable.

If you can afford to get professional head shots, I highly recommend it. They will come in handy for your professional bio and other social media accounts.

Profile background

LinkedIn also gives you the opportunity to choose a background image. Consider serving a dual purpose with a photo that not only looks nice but also relates to your brand or service. A real estate agent could showcase a beautiful house, while a designer might include an image of his or her work. Just make sure it doesn't distract from your profile picture.