First Facebook did it. Then Twitter. And now LinkedIn.
All three social media giants offer the option to display a “cover photo” on your profile. That’s the wide image that appears across the top of the page — different from your profile picture.
We spoke to LinkedIn’s official career expert Nicole Williams about whether a cover photo is necessary and how to select the right one.
She says everyone should “definitely upload a cover photo.”
“You are wasting an opportunity by not including a photo that expresses your professional identity,” Williams tells Business Insider. “It helps potential clients, investors, and hiring managers see you in the professional light you’d like them to.”
But, she says, it’s important to remember that the photo you include on your LinkedIn Profile should be different from the ones you use on Facebook or Twitter.
“This image should always connect back to who you are as a professional, which isn’t always the case for other channels,” she explains.
Richard Branson, for instance, chose an image of the sky and clouds for his cover photo — “which makes sense as he is the head of a major airline and aerospace company.”
Williams’ own cover photo (a collection of pencils), for example, expresses that she is creative. “My favourite part of my career is the writing I get to do. This image illustrates that.”
Essentially, the cover picture you choose should tell your professional story in a visual way. “Because it’s so prominently displayed you really do want to make sure it represents you well,” Williams says.
Ask a colleague for their input if you’re not able to pin it down. And keep in mind you can always change it later if you need to. But still be careful when choosing one.
“Before you post the first picture you see, review them all and ask yourself, ‘Which image represents me best?'” Williams advises.
“Pictures have an energy and are able to translate information in ways that sometimes words alone cannot. That’s why it’s important that you choose the image that feels most powerful and motivating to you.”
Here are a few ideas:
- For accountants: An image with a series of numbers or spreadsheets
- For architects: Blueprints
- For salespeople: A photo of your product
- For writers: A photo of books, magazines, or a newspaper
- For graphic designers: An image you’ve created
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