Day 2: The importance of a professional profile image

Your photo is an important part of your online profile. There are a number of reasons why it is essential to have a professional profile image uploaded to your web and social media:

Firstly, it can help people know that they have connected with the right person. For example, there may be many “John Smiths” on Twitter, so a photo helps identify the right John Smith.

Secondly, you will get more likes and follows on your social media if you have an image. 1134.eggLinkedIn profiles with a photo are seven times more likely to be viewed than ones without an uploaded photo. On Twitter you are unlikely to gather a following if you are still displaying the dreaded egg pic, as the absence of a photo tells people that you are either a spammer, a “lurker” or a complete newbie.

Thirdly, your profile image is your online first impression, which is why it’s so important to have a professional looking one. Here are some tips for getting it right:

  1. Use a professional photographer Even the work of the most gifted amateur can result in something akin to a mug shot. Of course, time and budget priorities can often get in the way of this being a feasible option. With this in mind, the following are some guidelines for DIY profile pics.
  2. Dress to impress Consider your audiences. Research collaborators, funding agencies, donors, media, potential students and others might all look at your photo. What type of image do you wish to convey? A recent study by PhotoFeeler found that formal clothing (A suit as opposed to jeans and t-shirt) in profile pictures had the most influence in perceived competence and influence over a range of factors.
  3. Give them some background A suitable background can provide context and represent your field of specialisation. However, the background should be simple so that focus remains on the person. Being at least six feet (183cm) from the background will help. Where possible, avoid the type of plain backgrounds used in passport photos.
  4. Light up your life Try to use natural light in addition to artificial light. Artificial light should be directed away from your face.
  5. Strike a pose Avoid the cheesy posed smile: smiling naturally is great. Try to look comfortable and at ease. Stand or sit with your upper body slightly turned and your face directly to camera, making eye contact with your audience.
  6. Make it all about you You should be the only subject in the photo. 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.
  7. Focus Your face should be in focus. The background can be slightly out of focus, but your features need to be sharp, not blurred. Make sure dark shadows or bright light isn’t obscuring your face.
  8. Avoid the Selfie As whimsical as it may seem, there is nothing professional about a profile photo you snapped in the mirror on your smartphone. If you want to take your own profile pic, ensure that you use a decent camera, shine light on your face so you’re not backlit, and allow for some headroom so your hair isn’t cut off.
  9. Size it right Images that are too small or the wrong shape for a particular profile can look stretched and out of focus. If it is a decent resolution image (about 1MB is plenty), which even an iPhone will provide these days, you will be able to size it to fit most profiles. Check the image guidelines for the profile you are uploading to. Some common ones include:
    1. UON researcher profile This needs to be a square image. The system will resize larger images but don’t go smaller than 111 by 111 pixels
    2. Twitter Profile photo 400 x 400 pixels. Header photo 1500 x 500 pixels
    3. LinkedIn 400 x 400 pixels
    4. Facebook Profile photo 180 x 180 pixels. Header photo 851 x 315 pixels


Easy! Consider the above points and make sure you have a professional looking profile image. Maybe you have a photographer friend you could call on or you know someone who is a decent amateur photographer?!

Also, have a go at resizing your profile image without stretching or distorting it. If you’re on a PC –Windows Picture Manager will be the easiest system to use. If you’re on a Mac try iPhoto for simple resizing.

Note: just save your photo to your computer for now. We will upload them to our web and social media profiles as we make our way through the next 18 days.

Day 2 done! Tomorrow we are going to update (or create) our main web hub – our UON web profile.

One thought on “Day 2: The importance of a professional profile image

  1. Jessie Reid

    Good morning all! This may be an easy day for some – if you already have a professional profile image. Tomorrow is more involved as we get into UON researcher profiles.
    If the Faculty has taken any professional pics of you for Research Directions etc, and you would like a decent sized copy to resize for your various web profiles during the next 18 day, please email me or leave a reply here. Best, Jessie (


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