8 profile picture rules every professional should follow

Profile pic lead imageBusiness Insider/ShutterstockYou want to look pleasant and powerful.

Whether in person or online, making a professional first impression is important. You want to look like a credible and confident person that recruiters and colleagues would want to keep around.

Career coach Barbara Pachter outlines the rules for professional profile pictures in her book, “The Essentials of Business Etiquette.”

Scroll down for the eight most important rules you need to know.

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You want to look assertive -- not like you're falling over.

Keep your head straight.

Tilting your head may make you look less self-assured. This is your professional photo, so you need to look confident and capable.

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There should be zero cats in your professional picture.

You should be the only subject.

It's your professional profile picture, so it should focus on you. This means no inanimate objects, group shots, or photos of you with your significant other, child, or pets.

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You want to pop -- not fade into the crowd.

Your face should be in focus.

Your features need to be clear and sharp. If there are darker shadows in the background, make sure they aren't obscuring your face.

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Always use a current photo, no matter how cool you once looked.

Use a recent photo of yourself.

If people are surprised when they meet you in person because you look nothing like your picture, they may wonder why you posted such a misleading photo.

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You wouldn't go to work looking like this, right?

Wear appropriate attire.

Look the way you would at work. Never post a photo of yourself at the beach, in a nightclub, or even running a marathon.

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Use a pleasant facial expression.

You need to look like someone others will want to work with. This means looking pleasant and confident and not having a 'too serious' look on your face. You want to appear vibrant -- so also avoid shots in black and white.

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A beautiful logo, but connections would rather see your face.

Don't use your company's logo.

People want to connect with you as an individual, so avoid displaying your company's logo -- unless it's your company's page. Once they connect with you, they will be able to learn about your product and your company via your company page.

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Don't be anonymous or hard to find.

Always use a photo.

There may be many people with the same name, so it's important to make sure people know they're connecting with the right person. Plus, a photo is much more appealing to potential connections than a question mark.

Vivian Giang contributed to an earlier version of this story.

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