LinkedIn has changed the way we look for jobs, and commonly, a lot of potential employers will specifically ask for your LinkedIn profile on applications.
A good LinkedIn profile can be just as valuable as a good resume or cover letter.
And the truth is, nothing ties everything together like a good picture.
Best tips for LinkedIn?
LinkedIn is a social media platform focused on the professional aspect of our lives and is the world's largest professional network site to date.
Created with the purpose to offer new opportunities to its users, LinkedIn has become a one-stop-shop when it comes to online, professional networking.
Whether you are looking for a job, wanting to showcase your skillset, find volunteer work, or even keep track of your skills, LinkedIn is the place to be.
Your LinkedIn profile is an online resume for all to see, allowing you to forge connections or keep up to date with the latest businesses from the comfort of your couch. Without even doing anything, you are inviting professionals to find your page and engage with you.
The website and app also have a messaging feature for easy communication, where businesses can contact you about opportunities and vice versa.
A complete and well-rounded profile showcasing all our unique skills and attributes has proven to present users with ample opportunities.
LinkedIn can also be used to organize events, create and join groups, and browse open positions. It also allows its users to share other forms of media relevant to their professions, such as images and videos, making it the perfect place for creatives to show the world what they have to offer.
In short, a LinkedIn profile is an online portfolio and a business page.
Why does having a great photo matter?
Not dissimilar to the header on your resume, your background photo is a recruiters introduction to you
In an article on Psychology Today entitled, "The Power of First Impressions" Arthur Dobrin D.S.W wrote, "The exaggerated impact of first impressions is related to the halo effect, that phenomenon whereby the perception of positive qualities in one thing or part gives rise to the perception of similar qualities in related things or the whole."
What this means is that even something as simple as a cover photo can affect the way the rest of your profile is perceived by the viewer.
For example, when browsing a real estate webpage, our eye is drawn to the best photographs, not just in appearances but in quality. If a photograph is poor quality or taken at a bizarre angle, it gives off an air of unprofessionalism, or something not quite right. Because of that, we breeze right past a house that could have been just perfect.
The same applies here, your cover photo is one of the first things someone viewing your profile will see, so we want to encourage them to continue scrolling down by giving them a professional and appropriate image.
When it comes to choosing a profile picture, people agonize over the options. We spend hours scrutinizing even the smallest details. How does our hair look? Do we seem approachable? Is my clothing professional?
In an increasingly digital age, we are more aware than ever that our digital presence is an extension of our physical self, and put great care into selecting a profile photo that conveys what we would like others to see.
So why don't we afford the same care and time when choosing our cover photo?
When browsing the platform, our LinkedIn cover photo is one of the first things that employment recruiters see. Why not put your best foot forward and take the time to select a professional photo that creates the best impression possible?
How do I make sure it is the right size?
One of the most important aspects of choosing a banner is making sure that your image dimensions are correct. For a LinkedIn cover photo, your dimensions should be 1128 (w) x 191 (h) pixels, or 1584 (w) x 396 (h) pixels, depending on your image.
If you find an image you adore but it doesn't fit the dimensions, there are plenty of websites dedicated to changing image size, such as shrinkpictures and webresizer which can be found in this detailed explanation on how to change your cover image for a LinkedIn group.
How do I change my background image?
Changing your background image is surprisingly simple.
First, make your way over to your LinkedIn profile. In the top right-hand corner of your background photo, you will see a pencil icon. Once you've clicked that, you should see a small window appear. From there, select "Change photo" and then select your desired photo. Once your photo has been uploaded, you can edit it in the window that should appear. From here you can rotate, crop, and even add filters.
Finally, move the small toggle bar around until the portion of the image you wish to be selected is within its parameters before pressing apply, and voilà, you've uploaded your new and improved LinkedIn cover photo.
If, for whatever reason, your photo won't upload, click here to troubleshoot for an explanation.
What should my cover photo represent?
Your cover photo should represent who you are in a professional capacity.
Ultimately, recruitment teams want to know who you are and, as they say, a picture is worth a thousand words. However, since your profile represents your career and who you are in a professional setting, make sure you are selecting that picture very carefully, both figuratively and literally.
A mistake many people make is using a cover photo that represents their hobbies. While it's true that a cover photo helps potential employers get to know you, a hobby tells them nothing about what you have to offer the company.
As a LinkedIn career expert, Cindy Makita released a YouTube video offering some great LinkedIn banner ideas; she states that a banner should showcase one of three things: Your brand, your personality, and your value add (what you can bring to the table).
She also goes on to give four examples of a great cover photo: An image that represents your industry or target industry, a plain image with your name and job functions, a city skyline with three value words, or an interesting background with a favorite quote.
It is also recommended to stay away from logos, as they do not inspire or give any insight into what your company does. If you do wish to use your logo, consider inserting it in the bottom right of your banner, as the left side will be obscured by your profile picture.
That being said, be doubly mindful of this when considering the aspect ratio of the mobile app, as the profile picture appears larger and obscures more of the background image.
What are the benefits of having a great LinkedIn cover photo?
A great cover photo is just as important as a well-selected profile photo and presents the same benefits.
The first reason, naturally, is professionalism. Your LinkedIn profile is an extension of your professional self. If your banner image is lacking in quality, then those viewing it will, by extension, assume the same of you. But if you have a well-selected background photo, then you will be thought of as someone who is thorough and capable.
Another great reason is memorability. With over 740 million users across 200 countries, the LinkedIn browser is saturated with people wanting to be noticed. So why not make your profile stand out with a simple, easy-to-remember photograph?
Not only that, but with so many people to wade through, recruiters often only spend 6 seconds on a profile. This is roughly the same amount of time it takes to view a gif twice over.
With such little time to make a good impression, you need to make every aspect of your profile page count, starting with your background banner image, which is the first thing a recruiter is likely to see when clicking on your profile.
If you have a low-quality photo where the content is pixelated and the edges are stretched to fit the dimensions, it is unlikely that the viewer will scroll down to the rest of your profile.
Without wanting to sound too dramatic, this makes your background image the gatekeeper, and the difference between you getting scouted for a job or being overlooked entirely.
If you wanted to test this out yourself, why not head over to LinkedIn and browse a few profiles, judging solely on the background image. I'm sure you will soon find yourself intuitively passing over a few before you even reached the skill section.
How often should I update my photo?
While your profile picture should stay relatively up to date, your cover image has a little bit of giving. In their guidelines, LinkedIn suggests using your cover image to show a milestone in you or your team's career. This is a great way to both keep your profile fresh and new for an optical browsing experience and also alert your followers of new accomplishments.
But also trust your intuition. If you are sick of looking at your picture after a few months, change it up. Those who frequent your profile will appreciate the care and dedication you put into this online business page. It will show them you are an active part of the community and someone who pays attention to detail.
Where can I find a great cover photo?
Not everyone is a great photographer, and the internet knows this and has come to our rescue.
If you are not comfortable taking a photograph to use as your banner image—as most of us are not— there are plenty of websites out there dedicated to bringing professional, high-quality, royalty-free images to the masses.
Here are some of our favorites:
One of the more well-known websites, this photo library offers an array of images from abstract to landscapes, to zoomed-in pictures of dew drops. Once you've created an account you can create multiple folders, allowing you to organize images by genre or project.
While Pixabay is your standard stock image website, they do have one feature that many find useful. Once you've found an image you like and click download, Pixabay offers you a choice of image size. It even goes as far as to tell you the file size. It's this attention to small detail that has made it a favorite among users.
While Kaboompics does ask that you link back to the creator when using an image, they have a unique search function that allows you to browse images via color. This is particularly useful when you are trying to find images to fit your brand and its specific colors or vibe.
While Freerange requires you to make an account before you can download any stock photos, you are able to select the dimensions. As I mentioned above, this is useful when you require your image to have a specific function, such as a cover for your LinkedIn profile.
Thanks to this, you can choose the image size closest to the correct dimensions you need, which will give you the best quality image for the website.
Unlike the other stock image websites, Picnoi is specifically dedicated to people of color, be that in their imagery or their creators. They also have a donation feature that allows you to support photographers should you use their images.
For a more robust list of stock image sites, check out this helpful article.
How can I customize my background photo?
But what if you want to add a little extra personality and flair to your LinkedIn cover photo?
Well, you're in luck, for there is a myriad of online resources allowing you to customize your images.
The most popular and well-loved of these is Canva.
Canva is an online website that allows you to be your own digital designer. Via a beginner-friendly interface, you can create graphics for various social media sites, including LinkedIn.
Through here, you can select the LinkedIn banner template.
The best part about Canva is that it allows you to customize your template, allowing you to change the image, colors, text, and even add in graphics and animations. And all of this is free. However, you can choose to pay for a specific template or upgrade to a premium account if you find yourself needing to.
Once you are finished creating your banner, you can download your image as either a png file or a jpeg file.