A general counsel friend wanted to revise and make more robust his LinkedIn profile and queried me as to whether it was necessary to have a photo. He may have been self-conscious about his looks. Join the club. Aren’t we all? He did want his revised profile to be seen by possible recruiters. He also had a question about revealing one’s religion on LinkedIn, but that will be the subject of another blog post.
Mirror Mirror On The Wall
Many people are self-conscious of their photos and just do not like being photographed. Some do not like the way they look because of age, weight, baldness, etc. Some do not like the idea of others having photos of them for privacy or security reasons. So having their photo out there on the internet on LinkedIn makes some people very uncomfortable. Understandably, you find it more so for women than men.
For purposes of using your LinkedIn profile as a resume billboard for a job search or business development, it gets even trickier. Some people do not want to be excluded for consideration for a job or a contract because of race, ethnicity, age, average looks, and so forth. We all know that people can be discriminated against for those reasons (race and ethnicity were not the concerns of my general counsel friend as he is neither a racial nor an ethnic minority). Unfortunately, research has shown physical attractiveness can give a person a leg up in life. Nevertheless, for a job interview or for a business meeting, you will eventually have to meet potential employers or customers in person.
Let It Be
You are who you are, and you should be at ease with yourself even if there are nincompoops who may not be comfortable with your identity, looks and background.
My personal belief is that if someone wants to discriminate against me because of my age, looks, ethnicity or whatever, I would not want to work or do business with that person anyway. People are naturally curious as to what a person with whom they will do business looks like. I know that I am. A photo provides more context. Accordingly, I have no hesitancy putting my photo on LinkedIn.
If I were a woman, I would probably be a bit more circumspect because of security concerns as there are weird people out there in the world.
Bottom Line: You can skip a photo on LinkedIn without sacrificing the effectiveness of your profile.