Pachter's Pointers:
Business Etiquette Tips & Career Suggestions


9 Guidelines for Posting Your Photograph on Social Media Sites

I couldn't make out his face.
She looks completely different from her photo.
I couldn't believe she had sunglasses on her head!

The comments above were made about photographs accompanying profiles on LinkedIn. Unfortunately, many businesspeople post photographs of themselves on LinkedIn and other social media sites that detract from their professionalism.

I have written about this before, but it’s a message that bears repeating: Your professional image is conveyed through your photograph. It’s part of the first impression you make on others. You should post a photograph that is professionally appropriate, and makes you look like a credible, approachable person – not like someone who just came from the beach.

In another life, I was a professional photographer – the first woman photographer at what was then one of the largest ten newspapers in the country – so I offer the following as my recommended guidelines for photographs used in any professional context:

1. Post a headshot. This type of photograph highlights your head/face, but often shows your shoulders and part of your chest. People can see you clearly in this type of shot. Avoid posting an environmental portrait, one that places you in a setting that relates to your profession, as your face is usually a smaller part of such a photograph. These pictures are often used as additional photos on a website, and are not recommended for headshot postings.

2. Choose a photo that flatters you. Sounds obvious, but people don’t always pay attention to their choices. I am not suggesting you need a glamour shot, but you should look like a competent professional in the photograph.

3. Use a clear, uncluttered background that is well lit. There shouldn't be any dark shadows obscuring your face. People must be able to see you clearly.

4. Make sure your face is in focus. The background may be slightly out of focus, but your features need to be sharp, not blurred. Let people see your eyes. Wearing dark glass hides them.

5. Wear appropriate professional or business-casual attire. Appear as you usually would in a business situation. This may mean that you are freshly shaven, or wearing make-up and jewelry. Do not let your accessories (earrings, necklace, glasses) overpower your headshot. Additional information on business dress can be found in my new book, The Essentials of Business Etiquette: How to Greet, Eat, and Tweet Your Way to Success (McGraw-Hill).

6. Look at the camera and keep your head straight. Women have a tendency to tilt their heads. Why? I don’t know. But I do believe they look less self-assured when they do.

7. Have a pleasant facial expression. If you are frowning or scowling, why would I want to hire or work with you?

8. Look like your photograph. If your photo is more than 8 to 10 years old, people may be very surprised when they meet you. If you had long hair in your photo and now have short hair, people may not recognize you.

9. Hire a professional photographer. If all of this seems overwhelming, hire someone who takes photos for a living. It’s worth the investment.

It had been almost 10 years since my last corporate headshot was taken, so I decided to practice what I preach – I hired a professional photographer (Maria Martins of Unique Imagery) to take my new photograph. Let me know what you think.

Pachter & Associates provides training and coaching on business etiquette and communication. For more information, contact Joyce Hoff at 856.751.6141 or


  1. Dear Barbara,
    I enjoyed your article as always. You write well and provide valuable content. I also like your new photo. You did follow your own advice. May I add one piece of advice that I received before my first professional photo was taken. Get your hair and makeup done by a professional before the shoot. I am not one who regularly visits beauty salons, but for photo shoots I do. Best, Lydia Ramsey

    1. Thanks, Lydia. Good advice. Hope all is well.

  2. Anonymous6/13/2014

    I like the article but I think your photo is a little too photo-shopped. It is way too "glowy". Embrace the fine lines on your face. We've earned them. :D

  3. Anonymous6/16/2014

    From a reader:
    Barbara, thank you for your timely recommendations!

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