8 profile picture rules every professional should follow

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Whether in person or online, making a professional first impression is important. You want to look like a credible and confident person that recruiters and colleagues would want to keep around.

Career coach Barbara Pachter outlines the rules for professional profile pictures in her book, "The Essentials of Business Etiquette."

Scroll down for the eight most important rules you need to know.

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8 profile picture rules every professional should follow

Keep your head straight.

Tilting your head may make you look less self-assured. This is your professional photo, so you need to look confident and capable.

8 profile picture rules every professional should follow

You should be the only subject.

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.

8 profile picture rules every professional should follow

Your face should be in focus.

Your features need to be clear and sharp. If there are darker shadows in the background, make sure they aren't obscuring your face.

8 profile picture rules every professional should follow

Use a recent photo of yourself.

If people are surprised when they meet you in person because you look nothing like your picture, they may wonder why you posted such a misleading photo.

8 profile picture rules every professional should follow

Wear appropriate attire.

Look the way you would at work. Never post a photo of yourself at the beach, in a nightclub, or even running a marathon.

8 profile picture rules every professional should follow

Use a pleasant facial expression.

You need to look like someone others will want to work with. This means looking pleasant and confident and not having a "too serious" look on your face. You want to appear vibrant — so also avoid shots in black and white.

8 profile picture rules every professional should follow

Don't use your company's logo.

People want to connect with you as an individual, so avoid displaying your company's logo — unless it's your company's page. Once they connect with you, they'll be able to learn about your product and your company via your company page.

8 profile picture rules every professional should follow

Always use a photo.

There may be many people with the same name, so it's important to make sure people know they're connecting with the right person. Plus, a photo is much more appealing to potential connections than a question mark.

Vivian Giang contributed to an earlier version of this story.

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