Is your LinkedIn Picture Sending the Right Message?

Competent, Confident, Professional.  These are adjectives you would want your LinkedIn profile picture to convey.  So how do you make sure your LinkedIn picture isn’t sending the wrong message?  As recruiters, we practically live on LinkedIn; therefore, we see a large variety of profile pictures.  It is much more important to have a professional picture on LinkedIn than on Facebook because it is a professional environment.  Here are some tips on what not to do, and what you can do, when taking a LinkedIn profile picture.
1)  Do not take a LinkedIn picture in non-professional attire.  LinkedIn is a professional network.  Your coworkers, superiors, and competitors are on this website.  You want to demonstrate that you are a competent professional, or else someone may draw the wrong conclusion.  Remember, a picture is worth a thousand words.  Having a LinkedIn picture that is in unprofessional attire is almost like saying “Yeah I have a job, but I’d rather be (at a bar, or at a Falcons game, or whatever type attire you are wearing in that picture).
2) Do not take a LinkedIn picture where you are looking away from the camera.  Thousands of years of survival instincts have programmed humans to be very perceptive of body language.  If you are looking away from the camera, it will be interpreted that you are not trustworthy.  Your facial expression is also important in body language interpretation, and if your expression has your brow furrowed, or a sick-to-your stomach expression, or even a blank expression, you will come off as anything but professional.  You should aim for looking energetic, because every company wants an employee that is full of life, and every networker wants to network with someone with a passion for what they are doing.  Smiling is good, though, because who doesn’t want to work for someone friendly?
3) Do not take your LinkedIn picture in a non-professional environment.  This means do not take your picture in the mirror of your bathroom.  In fact, do not have your camera present in your picture.  If you have to wait for your roommate to get home to take a picture of you (in your professional attire!) on a computer chair in front of a neutral wall, then do-so.  Having a picture with the camera present, taken in the mirror, could be taken as not having taken much effort, and no employer wants to hire someone that takes the easy way out of things.  A first impression is very important.
LinkedIn is becoming a very prominent resource in the business world.  You want to put your best foot forward.  Make sure your first impression is a good one!
(For recent graduates, some universities offer a free professional photo service in which you dress in professional attire and have a professional photographer take you picture in front of a backdrop.  I would suggest utilizing this resource)