Make the most of LinkedIn and your personal branding
While you may think your LinkedIn is complete with a professional profile photo, a headline and a fully filled out resume to follow, experts are saying you’re wrong (sorry!)
Even though you may not know this exists, it turns out your LinkedIn cover photo could matter more than you even realize. That photo that looks like a banner and shows up behind your profile photo — yes, that’s your cover photo!
LinkedIn cover photos have only been around for a few years, but you no longer have the option of choosing from the provided LinkedIn selection of photos. You must now find and upload your own — a process that can be trickier than you may think.
But no worries — we’re here to help!
Why you need a cover photo:
The process of searching for a new employee is as tedious as the process of finding a new job. Recruiters and employers spend hours searching through LinkedIn, going from profile to profile and viewing upwards of hundreds per day.
Most people have only added the basics to their profiles — professional photo, education, etc. And since employers will be searching through pages on pages of profiles, you can help yours stand out by adding in that extra step and memory trigger.
Employers will notice you took the time to further personalize your page. Choosing a cover photo that depicts you (we’ll help you figure out how to do this!) will show recruiters you’re thoughtful. A personalized or personally chosen cover photo can give you that extra edge of personality that may stand out to potential employers.
First thing’s first: what should my cover photo show?
Your cover photo should show off a little of your personality, while still maintaining professionalism.
Choosing what type of image you want to be your cover photo is a similar process to choosing your laptop background. You want it to be an appealing image, something you personally enjoy, and you want it to be an image you would be proud to show off to others.
Your cover photo can be anything from another photo of yourself (think: you doing something applicable to your career or family or a hobby you enjoy) to a photo of nature.
It is easy to think of the exact purpose you want your cover photo to fulfill. Do you want it to provide simple aesthetic pleasure, like a sunset over your city’s skyline? Do you want it to convey more of what you do for a living, like a nurse whose cover photo is a stethoscope? Or do you want it to provide further career and contact information for a potential employer, basically making your cover photo an online business card?
Here are a few examples showcasing each type of cover photo message:
- Side-by-side colored pens or markers
- A photo of you speaking on a panel or an "action shot" of you at work
- A beach
- A forest
- A field of flowers
- Pencils spread out on a desk or table
- A photo of you in your office
- A photo of your office
- A keyboard
- A book
- Coffee beans
Or anything else you deem appropriate!
You can add your personal or professional logo to your cover photo as well to personalize it even further.
Where to find free photos and images
As you probably already know, you cannot simply find the perfect photo on a Google image search, download it and add it as your cover photo. There are copyright and licensing laws against this, and in order to use these photos, you’d have to obtain permission and then provide credit to the sources. But there are plenty of free stock photo websites you can utilize to find the perfect image for you!
StockSnap adds hundreds of new high resolution photos to its site each week. And there’s no attribution required. Search through categories like Business, Nature, Beach, Food, Happy and more. Find images of dogs, books, laptops and more!
Unsplash is another popular stock photo site. And again, all photos are free to download! Search for the exact type of photo you want, or browse the site’s categories, which include Business, Travel, Weather and more. You can also browse by image background color if you’re concerned mainly with your overall profile aesthetic.
All stock photos available on Pexels are also free to download and use. The site offers more specific categories, like Macro, From High Above, Warm & Wonderful, Windows and more. There’s even an entire category dedicated to ice cream, which could show recruiters your passion and enjoyment of sweets.
Pixabay offers over 1.6 million stock photos for you to choose from and use. The site also offers illustrations if you want your cover photo to be on the artsy side. Search for photos via keywords. Or browse through the Editor’s Choice section.
Reshot’s site offers photos that don’t appear as stock photo-y as the others. All photos are handpicked and not found elsewhere. Search for specific images or browse through trending photos, which range from a sunset to a tent sitting in front of a sunset to various unidentifiable beach goers.
Editing your cover photo
Once you’ve chosen your perfect cover photo, it’s time to edit it.
First, you should ensure your photo is a JPG, GIF or PNG file. And it cannot be higher than 8MB.
LinkedIn cover photos are set up in a specific way that only allows people to see about half of your photo when visiting your profile (the other half is blocked by your profile info: photo, name, etc.) You can simply upload the photo, see how it looks, crop, and try again if you’re unsatisfied. But that kind of sounds like a tedious nightmare.
Instead, it’s important to ensure your photo is the right size. LinkedIn recommends your photo pixel size be between 1000 by 425 and 4000 by 4000 if you want it to appear crisp and fit in the allotted cover photo space.
In order to edit the pixel size of your image, you can use Microsoft Paint or Preview on Mac computers.
If you wish to personalize your cover photo even further, and add a logo or edit the color, add your website, etc., we recommend using Canva, PicMonkey, or Snappa. All sites allow you to edit your photos, add graphics, change the size, color, and more for free.