LinkedIn: Your profile and background photos


As an active recruiter (I am the owner of HIREghana – ), my associates and I do come daily across through several hundred of LinkedIn profiles via our candidate sourcing searches and via our very own professional networking too. And we see a lot of ‘wrong’ things that seem to be common to our fellow Ghanaians’ profiles, so I decided to write this article simply aiming to offer my very own humble opinion in the form of advice.

Your Profile Photo

Maybe it’s nature/ maybe we are somehow hardwired to be that way, but the first thing we all look at, when we look at someone’s Linkedin profile, is:their profile photograph of course.

Based on that factual reality and our professional experience over the last 4+ years, we simply like to recommend the following DOs and DON’Ts.

First of all, anyone’s profile picture helps me and you make a ‘buying’ decision as to whether to connect with that person and/or what type or professional relationship you want to establish with them.

Let me rephrase it: would you buy anything at a shop where the owner or the sales-person hides his/her face? Would you trust them if you can’t see their faces? Case studies have shown that this very kind of logic seems to apply also to your LinkedIn profile photograph: it has to ‘exits’/ it has to be there.

By the way, all advise given in this article, apply equally well for your Profile Photo in any other professional network (LinkedIn is not the only one)


Profile Photo DOs

  1. Have a clear photograph of yourself.
    I.e. no fuzzy photographs and no photographs with friends, children, pets, relatives, …whatever.
  2. Use a photograph of your face with possibly a small smile (please).

People want to get the feeling of comfort, the feeling that you are approachable; that you are an easy person to reach and talk to. Obviously do not wear sunglasses please (there are plenty of people on LinkedIn hiding their beautiful eyes behind normal sunglasses – and no, it’s not cool nor does it make you look mysterious nor sophisticated).

  1. Show your shoulders
    This is a bit strange, but there is a lot of research that shows that we can trust a stranger a lot more if/when we could see a part of his/her shoulder.
  2. Face the camera.
    Almost a must: because it generally creates a sense of direct communication with the person looking at your photograph.

Make sure that you are “front and center”. LinkedIn is not about looking beautiful.

  1. Dress appropriately.
    No need to wear a tie – that’s up to you, although I would personally strongly recommend a professional garment on your top /shoulders. Just no open shirt (that recommendation is specifically for you gentlemen) nor a bikini top (yes, -for better or worse- LinkedIn is also being used by prostitutes and adult actresses) nor any other beach or outdoors outfit, please.
  2. Photoshop.
    Yes: it is ok to “photoshop” a little, e.g. for removing items on the background etc.

No: please don’t use “photoshop” to look younger – it’s deception.

  1. 7. Your Face Should Cover 60%– 70% of your Photo


Profile Photo DON’Ts

  1. Avoid ‘dating-like’ photographs: LinkedIn is a professional networking tool –it’s not like Facebook.

So ladies: no need to show cleavage, no full-body photographs even in a nice dress with beautiful Kente fabric, no unbuttoned blouses etc. And, lighten up on the use of make-up and jewelry please.

And gentlemen: no vacation or sports & cars backgrounds, no photographs from a pub, nor anything else that looks dating-like. Also, no photos with girlfriends or female colleagues. Btw, you rarely see a woman having a Profile Photo of her and a gentleman.

  1. Don’t lean back on an office chair.

When is the last time that you show someone leaning all the way back on their office chair or even a couch at work and you thought: “I want to hire this guy” or “I want to work for this person or do business with him/her”? What do you think this person’s attitude is? Do you really thing that s/he is successful? In what? In been lazy?

  1. Avoid advertising or marketing promotion or logo- photographs.

Sure, you want to promote your own business or a product or service that you are selling. But, Linkedin has company pages for that- for example look at our page: People need to see you and not an advertisement.

Btw, avoid LinkedIn accounts with company-names; technically it is against the LinkedIn rules and eventually it’s software will disable those accounts..

  1. No Selfies, please.
  2. No ‘Dronies’ either.

So, you went to the Mall and got yourself a drone that can take photos? Don’t use anyone of these ‘Dronies’ for any professional profile, please.

  1. Don’t use an old photograph.
    You are 30-40 years old or even older and you are using that cute high school picture? Look your age, please – use a recent photograph.
  2. Don’t ‘over-edit’ your photo.
    Since a couple of months ago, LinkedIn gives you several options in editing your photo: e.g. change saturation, light, contrast, etc…

The idea behind it is to provide you with simple tools to make minor corrections/ adjustments to your photo and not to use all that as a creative palette. Keep it simple please.

  1. Your face-photo’s Background color.
    Keep it simple: white is great, some shades of green will do miracles; no blue backgrounds; for some strange reason, most people react negatively t any portrait photo with a bluish background.

If you want to have a strong professional image, consider avoiding multicolored backgrounds.

Btw, it is ok to use a patterned background – I do, as long as it is not visually distracting.


Should you use Black & White Photos?

Now this is an item of possible controversy: Should you use a Black & White photograph?

Some research shows that a colored photograph turned into a Black & White one, makes that very same person appear more credible, more competent and more influential. Again, it is not 100% proven research-data beyond any doubt.


4 Sample ‘good LinkedIn Profile Photos’

Kwaku is looking directly into the camera – taken by professional photographer.

Taken by professional photographer. Clean background and ‘enough shoulders’.

David: Perfect photo with a pattern- background; not distracting at all.

Rosemond: Background a bit dark, but small smile and facing the camera

The long horizontal LinkedIn Background Image

Good news: There are not many long requirements, it’s that simple:

  • you need to set your image format in JPG, PNG, or GIF.
  • Linkedin background photo size is 1584 x396 pixels.


Go ‘wild’ with it. Google the internet with a topic name and 1584×396: e.g, “modern office 1584×396”.

Another creative way might be to create a 1584 x 396 ‘background’ and write relevant text. See for example the profile of Spiros from our sister company HireLoyalty ( ) :

Warning: ‘Credible’ rumors ‘say’ that LinkedIn will switch the position of our profile photos from the middle of the long background image, all the way to the left. They are currently busy experimenting with it.


In Conclusion

Basically, use a simple photo of your head with a little bit of shoulders and some space /’air’ above your head. That simple!

FYI: 94% of the world recruiters screen their candidates through their LinkedIn profile (Source: Adweek 2013).



Thank you and Good Luck,




About the Author: Irene Gloria Addison is the owner of HIREghana [Human Intelligence Recruitment], a Leader Ghanaian Recruitment Agency and also a HRM & Organizational Development Consultancy. She has a Linkedin footprint of almost 31.000 connections and through her firm, she has been constantly mentoring and coaching candidates on how to improve their LinkedIn presence.

Irene welcomes your feedback/ comments/ remarks/ suggestions via your email message to Press at HIREgh . com; she can be reached at +233 50 228 5155 or +233 266 555 907.

Our website is

© 2018 Irene Gloria Addison and © 2018 Human Intelligence Recruitment

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