Seven deadly linkedin sins

Seven deadly linkedin sins

As a professional within the blogoshere, you’re probably on linkedin so you might just be interested in this: The seven deadly linkedin sins – more specifically, the seven deadly linkedin profile picture sins.

Purchasing Insight logoI read an amusing summary of some serious research that was done a few years ago on facebook profile pictures that described some of the most common attributes of the images people choose to represent themselves on facebook. It asked some serious questions:  To pout or not to pout? How much cleavage? How not to look desperate ? – and so on. It struck me that the same research would be useful for the ‘professional’ version of facebook: linkedin. I’ve since been paying a lot of attention to the pictures people select to convey their professional image. It’s amazing what people will publish. That photo of you at the Star Wars convention may convey that you have a life outside work but the Princess Liea outfit does nothing for your professional image.

It’s easier to know what makes a bad profile picture than to know what makes a good one. So I’ve done my own informal research and come up with these seven deadly sins – all based on real photos of people that are in my linkedin network. That’s right – it could be you!

Sin 1. The vacation picture

On vacation we take a lot of pictures and it’s true that you may look relaxed and healthy in the sunshine. But displaying a crazy grin while clutching a cocktail with a crimson chrysanthemum and pink parasol makes you look like one of the great train robbers celebrating your new found wealth in exile in Brazil.

Sin 2. Happy families

“What’s more important to you? Work or me?” “You of course darling. Look, I even have you in my linkedin profile.”

A photo of a a happy couple is always lovely – to the happy couple. Regrettably, it makes everyone else wants to reach for a bucket.

Sin 3. The Wedding shot

We want to look our best on our profile but was your wedding day the last time you looked good? And it’s not just the East European bride picture that looks incongruous on linkedin. Wearing a flower in your lapel says the last time you wore a suit was when you were best man.

And do I really need to mention the bachelor party snap?

Sin 4. As you were

Recently, I saw the profile of a young lady on linked in as someone I might know. She was attractive and the photo was quite eye-catching. Sure enough, I did know this woman. I worked with her about 15 years ago. She wasn’t that young then I knew her though.

Enough said.

Sin 5. Halloween

We all like a good party and a fancy dress party can be such a laugh. But no-one wants to do business with the grim reaper.

Sin 6. The studio portrait

There’s two ends to this spectrum. Amongst the best  portraits on social networks are those done professionally. Many, if not most of the profile pictures on the German social network, Xing, are quality, stylish, professional shots that make a brilliant impression.

But there is another end to the spectrum. I don’t know what it is about some so-called professional portrait photographers that think we are still in the Victorian era. We don’t need to stand perfectly still for 45 seconds any more. The background doesn’t need to be classical. And ancient Grecian pillars? Do you want to look like Zeus or something? Why not go the whole hog and take your clothes off and drape a white blanket over your shoulder?

Sin 7. A quickie in the bathroom

I’ve saved the best sin till last – and I have to say I have only seen this once. It is a profile picture of a well presented professional looking lady. She’s taken a half decent self portrait herself with an iPhone. She’s done a good job but she’s forgotten to consider the background. The lock on the door behind her makes it clear that she’s in a toilet. It raises an obvious question. Why? Was there a mad rush to get your profile updated? Is there some secret you’re hiding? Are you in disguise? If I was interviewing you for a job, it would be the first question I’d ask. Why are you in a toilet on linkedin? That’s not the kind of interview question you prepare for.


Social media is important. Whether you like it or not, you’ve left your footprints all over the internet. Google your name and you’ll find yourself somewhere. And what you find is what others will find too. You need to manage your online profile so that they get to see what you want them to see. You need to manage carefully what people get to see of you on the internet. That means actively managing your social media profile to present yourself in the way you want to be seen. And most important of all, if there is something undesirable out there on the web, make sure it doesn’t appear on page one.

Pete Loughlin can be found on twitter @peteloughlin

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