using a photo of your kids as your profile picture on LinkedIn

A reader writes:

This post popped up in my LinkedIn feed this morning and I was curious to hear your thoughts on it. It said: “I have been told it would be too unprofessional to use a photo of my three daughters as my profile picture. I just don’t see how that is unprofessional. Perhaps it is just the boastful father in me.” (The post included the photo of his three young daughters that he was proposing using as his profile picture.)

The comments on the post were strongly in favor of him using the photo — including comments like “the picture should give a ‘full picture’ of who you are — my twin boys are a part of me,” and “doesn’t seem unprofessional to me, just proud.”

I can’t help but think the reaction would have differed greatly had it been a woman using the photo.

Wow. LinkedIn is a professional networking site. It’s not Facebook. If you wouldn’t include information about your kids on your business card or resume (and I pray nightly that you wouldn’t), they don’t belong on your LinkedIn page — let alone as the profile photo, which is supposed to be of you.

If I Googled a candidate and saw this, I’d have immediate concerns that they were naive and/or didn’t have appropriate professional boundaries. It wouldn’t be a deal-breaker, but it would be a big red flag.

I’m not sure if I agree that the reaction he got would have been different if he’d been a woman, although I’d love to hear people’s thoughts on that.

{ 224 comments… read them below }

  1. Anon with a name*

    How do you feel about the guy with the My Little Pony resume?

    I’ve never been in charge of hiring anyone before, but my first thought is that you’re certainly going to get noticed, and if you read it it’s actually pretty creative (and clear the guy has qualifications.) I don’t think I’ve ever seen another resume with color on it though, never mind pictures like this. So… What do you think, Allison? :)

    1. Ruffingit*

      That is disturbing on a number of levels and would make me wonder about his naivety and/or understanding of the professional world.

      1. Anon with a name*

        That’s what I thought, and then I actually read the thing. I thought it was a joke until I read it (I guess in theory it still could be). I guess this is one of those times when creativity and going out-of-the-box can put you on the wrong side of the line. You want to stand out but not in a “OMG you remember that one resume?” kind of way. I wonder if anyone did hire this guy based on that resume (and how many people were freaked out by it.)

        1. Ruffingit*

          I was trying to think of any job where something like this might be well-received and I honestly can’t think of any unless you’re applying to design the newest My Little Pony dolls. And even then, this is just ridiculous. But then, as we’ve all learned from this site, people do a lot of crazy things thinking it will get them the job.

        2. Laufey*

          The ridiculous thing is that those seem to be pretty good qualifications, but anyone receiving this resume is seriously going to doubt his professional judgement. But in general, Alison argues less for creativity and more for awesomely written cover letters and professional-quality resumes.

          1. Pussyfooter*

            The ponies having corporate logos on their rumps amuses my dark sense of humor.

            Having Zero hiring experience, and lots of art design and science fiction/fantasy convention experience, I could handle the graphics. What *does* bug me about this is that the author makes me read–plus cutesy phrases–before telling me where he is now. This is why work history starts w/most recent and goes backward. If I were hiring, I’d have said “this guy is too busy goofing off to get to his point” before the end of paragraph 2, and chucked the whole thing.

      2. Mary*

        Did anyone really notice the length of the huge string of comments that arouse from this guy’s profile? Talk about marketing genius! I just came here to find some advice on creating my own Linkedin profile: now that I’ve seen your discussion, I only want to check that guy’s brony profile. Plain, senseless curiosity. Some mysterious talent here, you could well say…

    2. ProcReg*

      This resume seriously fails at life.

      I would question if he’s going to talk about World of Warcraft in the interview. Guy, please.

      1. Allison*

        Expressing interest in MLP, video games, comics, and other nerdy stuff might help you click with the hiring manager ONLY in the tech industry. Anywhere else, you’d better keep your nerdiness under wraps until you’re known for being mature and professional.

        1. Contessa*

          Not necessarily. During an interview for a summer internship in the federal government during law school, the interviewer asked me why I decided to study Japanese. I didn’t have my current spiel about Japanese culture and history down yet, so I (honestly) told him that I wanted to watch anime without the need for someone else’s translation. He was fascinated–I spun it in such a way that showed my determination, hard work, and self-sufficiency–and I got the internship. Now I just (equally honestly) talk about my love of Japanese political history, though, because it’s not really worth the risk of outing myself as a huge geek.

          1. Anna*

            +1 million. Most of the experience I have doing what I’m doing right now comes from working with an organization that grew out of a fan group of the show Firefly. Yeah, it takes some explaining (Do you know who Joss Whedon is? Did you see The Avengers?) Where you get the experience is irrelevant, it’s important that you have it. Not to mention, your passions are a reflection of who you are and if an interviewer wants to know, you should tell them.

        1. Lindrine*

          I do have a lot of digital pixels, I mean horses in my WoW collection. Don’t get me started on my battle pets…

    3. Meganly*

      I’m going to guess it’s a joke. It has this quote on his “website”:

      “I think the little pony resume is probably not the right choice for grad school.”

        1. dt plumbing*

          yeahhhh. Gonna have to just sorta go ahead and kind of disagree with you on that. Depends on the industry. 99% of places, no, you couldnt get away with it. However, being a self employed plumber, i realize that IN MY INDUSTRY,its all about “selling you”. What you can DO is very important, yes. But, its still second place to “selling you.” I struggled for a few years during great recession. I did all the “professional stuff.” Had enough after the hundreth something interview and being told in interview i was “lazy and weak.” Yes. The interviewer called me lazy and weak. Went out on my own. my god, why didnt i do it sooner?!?!?!? point is, MY LINKDIN photo is pic of me in sleeveless shirt holding a 2ft pipe wrench. Since going on my own and posting this pic, ive probably had a dozen offers from companies now. Before it was “NO THANKS, YOURE NOT WHAT WERE LOOKING FOR.” NOW…its me saying “no thanks.” Yes. It is def a beautiful feeling!!! For example. I COULD proof read this posting and make it more grammaticakky correct and professional. Why?????? my phone keeps on ringing anyway :)

    4. Calla*

      On the one hand, as a MLP:FiM fan, I think this is adorable… but on the other bigger hand, obviously really not professionally appropriate. (And I would hope anyone receiving this resume also knows the reputation of bronies!)

        1. Elizabeth*

          A third fan here, who sent the link to the person who got me into MLP:FiM. She went “AAAGGGGHHHH!”

          I wouldn’t even consider hiring this person. I’d consider burning the resume.

      1. Anon with a name*

        I’ve been link-hopping from different links posted on this blog. I forget exactly where, but a career website posted this resume. I showed it to a friend, and he found the original link :)

        1. ProcReg*

          If this was an art/graphic design job, I offer the guy that drew this, not the resume holder! This PJ guy contracted the drawings.

    5. Poster formally known as Jane Doe*

      Not at all professionally appropriate, but part of me feels like I’d have to meet the guy who thought this was a good idea!

    6. Sabrina*

      Wow, and here I thought I’d left Dragon*Con in Atlanta last weekend. The guy is a web designer though, so it’s probably best to stand out.

    7. Shane Watson*

      I think that waving the “bronie” flag (WoW, D&D, etc.) is confusing what the resume is for. If the resume was for graphic design, working for Hasbro, or something similar, I’d see no huge problem. The problem is that My Little Pony has nothing to do with what jobs his skillsets apply to. With this resume, I’d wonder if he’d show up to work in a suit or cosplay as a unicorn.

    8. Amanda*

      Oh NO he went to my college. Oh wow.

      That has to be a joke, right? I mean, I really like My Little Ponies but I also know for a fact that the resume people in the career office at Middlebury would have nixed that.

      1. Erin*

        Yep, also a MiddKid. I can’t decide if this means that the annual fund needs more of my money…or less.

    9. BCW*

      Honestly, if depending on what I was looking for, I might be inclined to bring him in. He seems to be creative, have good qualifications, and have a sense of humor about him. While I don’t necessarily like that stuff, he could be a good person to work with, based on my working style. With that said, I wouldn’t ever recommend someone do that because for every one person like me, there are 10 people who would be completely turned off by it.

    10. KellyK*

      There’s a part of me that likes it, because it’s cute and fun and I love My Little Pony, but it’s horribly wrong for a resume. Maybe, *maybe* if he were applying for some sort of creative/artsy job with kids, but for a computer science position? Not so much.

      Besides, if you’re going to try to use your fandoms to get you a job in comp sci, Star Wars or Dungeons & Dragons is probably a better bet. ;) (I’m kidding…please don’t anyone do a Star Wars themed resume and blame me when you don’t get calls.)

    11. Lizabeth*

      Showed it to the bro, who is a software developer, and asked him would he hire the guy, he said, “Depends. I could make it work if locked him in an office and slid requirements and the occasional pizza under the door. As a consultant? No way would I have him interacting with clients.”

      IF, and that’s a big if, he was a graphic designer I’d have him come in with his book just to see what samples he had to show.

    12. Sue Donem*

      I had a very stressful week at work and just found out one of my work friends was fired yesterday. I laughed so hard when I saw this “My Little Resume” that people on the floor below me heard. You, good sir or madam, have made my afternoon. (The logos on the ponies’ backsides especially had me in stitches.)

    13. Jess (Managing Software Architect)*

      Ironically, I am sitting in my office at my company’s HQ in my Doctor Whooves shirt as I write this one.

      Just a note: The Following is strongly dependent on the company you work for. Some software groups are more traditional. I would say that this person would not be looking for a job with them. This is from my own experience in softwareland and the types of company I like to work with. There are alot of us like this, but not all.

      While stretching the boundaries a bit, this resume can actually be ok in softwareland. We tend to be a bit off the wall and definitely outside the box. I can not speak for all of the managers of software out there, but if I got this resume I would definitely put it on the pile of callbacks. It shows thinking outside the box, and for this industry that is very valuable. Think about it. Half of the things we are now using in day to day life came out of some crazy person’s head. Some whacky idea that this guy comes up with can push a company to the next level.

      Modern Software engineers can be a strange lot. We also do not always, especially in smaller companies though also in some larger ones, follow the normal conventions of “Professionalism”. We kind of do not tend to live in the real world as far as business norms are concerned. The same can hold true for IT as well, although its more common for them to be “Professional” outwardly and crazy behind closed doors. For instance, how many of you at non-techie jobs have had Halo or Left 4 Dead tournaments at work during normal operations (other than if you are video game designers)? In a traditional office setting this would be unheard of or even a fire-able offense except for possibly special events. How many of you have a Slide to get from the 2nd floor to the 1st? ( Or mobile Desks? ( from Valve’s 2012 employee handbook). Or a new employee manual written like that?

      Now on the other side of the coin, it can also be a danger. Which is why interviewing is so important.

      What it all really boils down to is creativity versus confirmation. In many jobs you need a balance of the two in order to get stuff accomplished in a quality and timely manner. In Software development this holds true as well, but the scale if often shifted more towards the creativity side. Not enough for there to be anarchy and mayhem (although some companies can come close from the POV of traditional Corporate America standards), but enough to where our /norms/ if we can be said to have any, can seem to be unprofessional.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I work at a tech services company in a very conservative industry, and I wanted to move my desk to the Support department. There is Star Wars stuff everywhere down there. By contrast, I’m the only overt nerd on my entire floor, that I know of. Someone walked by my desk and observed the TARDIS on my desktop, and asked me why I had a picture of a Porta-Potty on my computer. *facepalm*

    14. Bea W*

      My first thought was “Is this real?” followed by, “Is he hoping to get a job teaching computer science and math to children?” because I could see this being a plus in that situation.

      1. Bea W*

        Would also be useful if he was applying for a job developing MLP computer games or website content or applying for a position at Hasbro.

    15. Kimberlee, Esq.*

      I would hire this guy. Assuming his skills lined up well with what I was looking for. Well, I’d grant him the interview.

      You can’t pull something like this off unless you have the skills to back it up, and I feel like this guy does. His writing is coherent and I didn’t find any errors in the document, and the graphic design is pretty sweet (and that’s a skill that’s handy in a lot of different kinds of positions, especially with smaller employers). I think it works.

    16. ECH*

      I loved this! Thought it was very clever! I probably would have hired him for the creativity. But then again, I won “most unique” in my public high school.

  2. Rob Bird*


    Linkedin is a professional site for professional people. Unless your profession involves kids (maybe as a professional photographer????) I wouldn’t use photos of anyone but me. Even then, people are not hiring your kids, they are hiring you.

    1. Anon with a name*

      Even if you are a professional photographer…. Set up the scene, put your camera on a tripod, set it on a timer, and take the picture of yourself. Done!

    2. Jen*

      There are a few women I know who are stay at home moms and have some “clever” little title on Linkedin about their current role:

      Say the name is Jane Doe. I have seen these listed as job titles:

      -Wife & Mommy at Doe Family Enterprises
      -CEO of Doe, Inc.
      -Employee of Jane, Jack and Jill Inc. [note: they used their children’s names implying that their kids are their boss and they just work for them]

      It kills me. It’s a networking site. If you want to put that on Facebook go for it. But if you used to be an Enterprise Engineer and are now a stay at home parent. Just put “Former Enterprise Engineer at ABC, Inc.” – but don’t call yourself the CEO of your last name unless you actually have a family business that you are legitimately the CEO of.

      1. Meg*

        This is totally personal preference here, but grown women who refer to themselves as “mommy” irritates the hell out of me. Something about it just seems so infantilizing. Am I the only one?

        1. Rana*

          No. It bugs me too. I also get annoyed by people talking about “moms” instead of mothers. “Mom” and “mommy” are only okay in my book if they’re being used by children.

        2. Bea W*

          I was just thinking the same thing. You’re a grown woman talking to other adults. It’s not only infantilizing to yourself, but your adult audience as well.

        3. Anonymous_J*

          You are not the only one.

          My reaction to the pics of kids on LinkedIn–or even pets!–is the same as Alison’s. It’s not an appropriate place for that. Save it for Facebook.

      2. some1*

        Actually, I don’t think it belongs on FB, either. Your occupation is not a required field on your profile. When women include stuff like your examples or list their occupation as “Domestic Goddess”, I actually feel like they are saying they are . . . not exactly *ashamed* to be a SAHM, but not 100% comfortable with it, either, or else they wouldn’t feel the need to dress it up.

      3. Allison*

        Ugh I’ve seen weird stuff like that on resumes too! One person listed her family as her employer, which to me sounded creepy as hell.

      4. Chinook*

        I am just shocked that any parent would want to brag about thinking of their children as their boss. I know you feel like you are at their beck and call but, when push comes to shove, the parent is the one in charge legally (and should be morally and ethically because they are raising future adults).

      5. bearing*

        I *am* a SAHM, with no plans in place of re-entering the paid workforce any time soon, and I can’t stand this either.

        It seems to me that if you wish to network on LinkedIn (perhaps in preparation for re-entering the workforce someday, or even just to stay connected to former colleagues) there MUST be a better way to explain your situation that does not sound so kindergarten.

        But… I don’t know, maybe there doesn’t exist a… template… to explain what you’re doing in a way that sounds professional?

        I get LinkedIn requests from time to time, because I have a former life and former co-workers and friends who have jobs, and people look for me. I don’t have a profile set up. Maybe I should have a profile set up. But honestly… I don’t really know what I’d put in it.

        I’m guessing that the “domestic goddesses” are trying (too hard, maybe) to make their lives fit into the “job” template — the one where you have a title and a company name and maybe a supervisor — because sites like LinkedIn are set up to deal with the “job” template. And it doesn’t quite work, because SAHM-ing and homemaking (or even home educating, which is what I do) is not a “job” in that sense. So they’re trying to figure out a way to make it fit the template.

        I think they’ve picked a poor solution, and kind of a demeaning one. But I lack a good answer for what is the best solution. Because I may be a “former employee of such and such” but I’m also something now, not nothing worth mentioning. And yet, mentioning one’s family is considered unprofessional, therefore I cannot mention it. But that makes me… nothing mentionable. So… as I said, there is no satisfying answer to this.

        1. VintageLydia*

          Same. After reading your comment I went back to my profile to see what I can do with it. I have my last/only job (which I left the fall of 2009) and the school I’m enrolled in but not actually attending anymore (for now.) But other than that… I don’t know what else to put. My last job was retail, but that’s not a track I want to run anymore. Who do I connect with? What do I say that I currently do? How can I spin it so it doesn’t look disingenuous? Do I spin it at all? Should I make connections with friends and family members even though they don’t work in fields I want to enter? I don’t know. I guess if I volunteer for something I’ll add that. But in the meantime at least I have an updated picture lol. (Of me. No kids. No husband.)

          1. bearing*

            This is actually a question I have been wanting to ask here at AAM, but I’ve shied away from it because… unprofessional.

            But I still want an answer.

            I am not ashamed of being a SAHM or of choosing to dedicate some years entirely to educating children at home. Far from it. I find it challenging and a worthy outlet for my skills and interests. But the “rules” for professional behavior say, “Never mention your children in a professional setting.” So… my work is unmentionable.

            Volunteer work is unpaid real work, and it is mentionable. My work, on the other hand, is real, it is unpaid, and it is not mentionable.

            It is what it is, but I would like to find a solution where I could professionally — not pretend-professionally — describe what I have been doing for the past X years.

              1. VintageLydia*

                You always seem to know exactly what are relevant posts AND relevant comment conversations within minutes of a question. You either have an amazing memory or just flag and organize links very efficiently. This is me being envious.

                I do realize my time being a mom and ONLY a mom will have almost no transferable skills for the future (other than things like “time management” which should be a skill nearly everyone should learn so mentioning it is like mentioning I’m honest.) I just wonder if Linked In would have any value to me either now or in the future, especially since I’m a blank slate, in some regards. I don’t have an industry. I don’t even have a 4-year degree. But there are directions I’m interested in.

                I guess this is more introspective and questions I’ll have to answer myself, so I don’t really expect an answer. But any input from you or anyone else would be appreciated. I’ll see if I can find the AAM Linked In group (hey there is one use!) and see if that gets me anywhere.

                1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  I have an insane memory for posts and comments. Or at least I used to — since I upped the frequency of posts, I’m finding that my ability to remember them is getting worse. There are too many to keep perfect track of now!

              2. bearing*

                Wow. Like VintageLydia I am also amazed at your recall. I searched the website for some terms that I would have thought would have turned that one up, but missed it.

                It is a good discussion, but a little unsatisfying to me because it mostly talked about SAHM-ing without really getting into the nuances that home education adds to the mix, other than to warn that mentioning one is a homeschooler may be dangerous because it will cause people to assume you are a religious fundamentalist, whether you are or not. I live in an urban area and none of the homeschoolers I know personally fit that description, so I admit I hadn’t thought of that possibility, and so I suppose that is useful information. It still brings me back to the basic unmentionability of the work I do with my family and with other families in reciprocal agreements (e.g., I teach your kids history, Latin, and geometry if you’ll teach my kids literature and composition).

                I wonder sometimes if a decent model might be one I think I remember AAM suggesting for people who are long-term unemployed in general — to demonstrate ways they have stayed sharp and active during the unemployment. Classes taken, independent study (I have certainly done lots of that), volunteer work, skills practiced, etc. It still runs you up against the “don’t mention your family” rule. When you are interviewing for a specific position, you can of course judiciously find ways that your experience has honed the specific skills that will make you perfect for that position. But I am only thinking of the super-general, “what to put in the LinkedIn profile” level.

      6. Marie*

        I was just talking about this with my boss today. He asked me what one of those title meant, ans I explained and said they killed me.

        One of the position we are now hiring for is perfect for a reentry job for SAHM, but I hate when they put thode titles, make me think less of them somehow

    3. A Teacher*

      I’m a teacher so my professional job is kids. I wouldn’t use a picture with my students on my profile. Then again, I also have 3 dogs and foster dogs for a local rescue and am on a committee with that rescue. I still wouldn’t put a picture of myself with my dogs/foster dogs on my linkedin profile.

        1. Jamie*

          I think so – in those cases I absolutely would love a pic with dogs.

          Then again, I think every picture should have a dog or cat. Or penguin.

        2. A Teacher*

          If I were a dog trainer, maybe. I just have a generic one of me sitting. It looks decent and isn’t offensive to anyone. I’m actually on a major committee for the group too so I could put it on linked in, and I think I have it in my volunteer section but I haven’t updated linked in for months because I hardly use it

  3. fposte*

    And no, the picture should not give a “full picture” of who you are, any more than your resume should. There are any number of important aspects of being you that should stay the hell out of your professional profiles.

      1. Katieinthemountains*

        YES. So many things I do not want to know about you, coworker, and vice versa. That’s why we’re not Facebook friends.

    1. LJL*

      Precisely. It should give an incomplete, work-only view of who you are. No one on LinkedIn really cares about my dog or my crocheting. They care about my professional abilities.

  4. Construction HR*

    I agree with AAM, it is supposed to be a professionally oriented site. OTOH, I see a number of my connections with similar pics; pics of them holding up fish (none are professional fishermen); pics of the them with their children; one had a pic of three women in it, dunno which one was my connection; several guys riding/sitting on motorcycles; etc. <>

  5. Ruffingit*

    I really do think people have confused LinkedIn with Facebook in a lot of ways. The whole deal about “my kids are a part of me” is just totally stupid when it comes to work issues. I love my dog beyond measure, but I’m not putting her in photos on work sites (although I totally should be allowed to, she’s so cute). :)

    It’s fine that you’re proud of your kids, your dog, your motorcycle fan club, your husband…but none of them belong in your professional sphere (photos, resume, etc.).

    1. Anon with a name*

      I agree! I might be in the minority, but I’m actually of the opinion that you shouldn’t even connect with your spouse/parents/kids on LinkedIn unless they’re in your field or a related one. People I know non-professionally try to connect with me every once in a while on LinkedIn, and sometimes I explain to them why I don’t want to connect and sometimes I just let the request sit and they never really notice. I’d accept on Facebook in a heartbeat, but on LinkedIn… Not so much. The #1 problem with that is that I like seeing the “you may know these people” feature, and having it be people in my industry that my industry contacts are connected to, who I might reach out to in my professional career. If I connect to all my friends in other professions, it becomes a social network of people I’m never going to have a reason to know. Waters down the purpose of LinkedIn, I think.

      1. Ed*

        Agreed. I got a request last week from a mutual business contact and let it sit in my Inbox. A) Our industries have nothing to do with each other so I don’t need your contacts (to the best of my knowledge) B) I personally don’t like you and C) you’re pals with a woman we recently fired for cause who vowed to “make us all pay” so I think I’ll avoid opening my info/contacts to you.

        1. Ruffingit*

          Yeah, any of those reasons, but especially the last one would be good reasons to delete that request.

      2. Judy*

        So you wouldn’t want to be introduced if your neighbor’s church friend works for a company you are interested in?

        Although not through linked in, I did talk to the son of a former coworker about a company I was interested in. I knew from talking to his dad that he had worked there, but had never met him before I talked to him.

        When you network, do you only network with people who are in your field or a related one? You don’t say “Hey Mom, I’m looking at Chocolate Teapots, Inc, do you know anyone who works there?” It seems like 9 times out of 10, my mom, a retired teacher, would be able to say, “I taught with Jane and I think her husband works there.” Of course, we’re in a small city (250,000 people) so it’s easier for people to be connected.

        1. Anon with a name*

          I guess my thought there is this: though your mom knows you well and could speak to your character, if she’s not in your industry she has no basis to give a *professional* review of your skills. And Jane doesn’t know you, and Jane’s husband doesn’t know you, and Jane’s husband’s hiring manager doesn’t know you. It sounds a bit like six degrees of separation; if you were a hiring manager and an employee came to you and said “Hey, my wife used to teach with someone whose daughter is interested in a job here.” What would you say? My first thought would be “Well do you know anything about her, professionally?” And the employee would have to answer that he doesn’t know you *at all*. I just don’t see how that’s a valuable connection. If I were the husband I would refer someone I didn’t know; I wouldn’t want to take the chance they would do badly, because the reference reflects on me.

          1. KellyK*

            I don’t think those six degrees of separation contacts are meant to directly get you a *recommendation* so much as they’re to help you find out about opportunities you wouldn’t otherwise be aware of, get information, and build connections with people that you haven’t worked with directly. No, your mom’s friend from church shouldn’t recommend you for a job sight unseen, but she might send you a job listing or recommend a useful LinkedIn group or make some suggestions on your resume.

            1. Jessa*

              Sometimes you do not see the fact that a job is open, or that a job will be opening up. Or even if they don’t know you or can’t give you a recommendation they can tell you about the company/corporate culture and help you bone up for an interview or tell you that despite the fact that it’s not listed in the job posting x skill is really important. And you know you have x skill and can put that out in your cover letter and bang, you have a little extra oomph in your application process. They don’t have to give you a recommendation to have information you can use.

      3. Anon*

        I agree with not connecting to people who you only know socially, but what do people think about the following: I recently accepted a request to connect on LinkedIn to the real estate agent my husband and I used to buy our new house. My work has nothing to do with real estate, and he knows nothing about ME professionally, but I can (and would happily) speak about how he handles his business. Should I have suggested that he put me on a “satisfied clients” list instead?

      4. anon*

        I would (and do) absolutely connect with relatives on LinkedIn, because it’s useful to see who they know! I wouldn’t “endorse” them for any skills or write reviews of them (not that I really think these are legitimate, but that’s another discussion) but it’s useful for me to have them as connections.

        That said, it was weird when I changed my LinkedIn profile pic and my aunt sent me a LinkedIn message that said “so cute!”

      1. Ruffingit*

        Yes, this is so true. I actually removed my LinkedIn profile for a few reasons, but one of them was because I just felt the whole thing was turning more into Facebook than anything professionally helpful. I realize for some people it is helpful, but it just wasn’t for me. I’ve gotten jobs without having it so I’m not too worried about it.

    2. CathVWXYNot?*

      It doesn’t help that LinkedIn seem to be confused about this themselves… no, I do *not* want to congratulate my contact on his work anniversary, thankyouverymuch! It’s NOT FACEBOOK!

  6. The IT Manager*

    Just because many of his connections are as unprofessional as him (although his question is worded in a way to request affirmation of his position) to think that this is a good idea doesn;t make it a good idea.

    Very unprofessional. Facebook – that’s fine. LinkedIn – not okay that is to say unprofessional.

  7. ProcReg*

    I do believe it also opens the employer to be tempted to discriminate based on familial status, which is illegal.

    1. Meg*

      Well, if that’s the case then so does posting a picture of yourself if you’re black/Hispanic/a woman/wearing a yarmulke, since discrimination against people based on minority, gender, or religious status is also illegal. And to be honest, I think the risk of being seen as naive is much bigger than the risk of being discriminated against because you have a family.

      1. KellyK*

        Definitely. Also, I don’t think there’s generally much discrimination against *men* who have kids—that tends to be more a problem for women.

  8. Cat*

    Scarcely have I had an “OMG NO” reaction to a blog post like I did to the title of this one. My instinct is that women would be judged more immediately and more harshly for this, but it’s clearly a bad idea for anyone.

    1. Shannon!*

      Cat, that’s how I feel! There’s a common perception that kids are assets for men (“Oh, he’s a family man!”) while their more of a hindrance for women (“her obligations are compromised”).

      1. littlemoose*

        You articulated that perfectly – that’s what I thought too, but I couldn’t find the right words for it.
        And I agree with the consensus to keep family/kid pictures off LinkedIn. It doesn’t belong in the professional spree and may cause your existing or prospective contacts to question your professionalism.

  9. Cathy*

    LinkedIn might have started as a professional networking site, but that’s certainly not the direction it’s headed. It feels more and more like Facebook everyday: groups for sports teams, hobbies, family/personal updates, etc. Then again, I seem to be the only person who thinks allowing 14-year-olds on LI is going to end badly so…what do I know?

    I think the reaction would have been different if it was a woman asking the question, at least from a job-seeking standpoint. I think it would have been more of the “No, you don’t want someone to think that you won’t be able to work late/early/weekend/whatever because you have to pick the kids up from daycare or take care of sick children” kind of thing. From a purely networking perspective, I think the response would have been pretty much the same as what the man received, maybe a few dissenters. However, I bet they are at least a few people who read the question and decided *not* to answer just to avoid coming off as rude and appearing to criticize the asker’s children.

        1. Jamie*

          On Linkedin? In any of my professional dealings? Never.

          This is a casual forum.

          But speaking of icons – just to take the op to do a PSA – they come in handy in helping identify who is who for those of us with less than unique or clever names.

          1. Chinook*

            I like the idea of an icon for my name but I have yet to figure out who to capture the wind in an icon (because a good chinook allows you to look up at clear blue skies).

              1. Chinook*

                In Canada, a chinook refers to different things depending on where you are from. In BC it is a salmon and a First Nations, in the military it is a helicopter. In Alberta, it is a beautifully warm wind that can turn -30 to above 0 and melt the snow while giving a select few migraines (but the warmth is worth the pain)

                I know have my goal for the weekend – a new identity (photo)

                1. Chinook*

                  Is it bad that I am proud of accomplishing only one thing this weekend and that is figuring out how to use a gravatar?

            1. Clever Name*

              I’m pretty sure Microsoft has clip art of wind. It’s blue with light blue streaks going across it.

        2. Clever Name*

          That wasn’t very nice. No, Hello Kitty isn’t particularly professional (but it is fun!), but Jamie isn’t here under the auspices of looking for a job or for professional networking. It’s the comment section of a blog.

        3. some1*

          That’s pretty unfair. Just because she has that as an avatar on a blog comments section doesn’t mean she shows up to board meetings in a Hello Kitty t-shirt.

  10. P*

    I think there is some possibility that the reaction would be different if it were a woman. If a woman were to put up a picture of her kids, people might think that she wasn’t really dedicated to her job – that she’d always be ducking out of work to take her kids to appointments, or is just taking a job to keep herself busy during the day with no real engagement. With a man putting up a picture of his kids, I think it’s assumed that he’s totally dedicated to his job, but as much as he loves his kids, it’s his wife/girlfriend/partner running them from school to soccer practice.

    In other words, in many peoples’ minds men are “allowed” to be fully dedicated to both work and kids, but if it’s a woman they assume that she must be far more dedicated to her kids and thus not so much to work. Not everyone, of course, and not reflective of reality, but I think that people are more sensitive to women inappropriately butting their kids into their work life like this.

    1. Allison*

      Probably true, kind of like how men are more likely than women to get flex time when they ask, because people like to assume that women with kids have one foot out the door and will neglect their work for the sake of their kids if given the opportunity.

    2. Calla*

      I agree with this. Same way that it’s not unheard for working dads to happily take PTO to go their kids’ games whereas a working mom would have a harder time doing that, dads get praised for helping take care of kids whereas it’s expected for moms, etc.

      1. CJ*

        I once saw a graph on SocImages (that I can’t find now) demonstrating how the gender pay gap is really about parenting – non-parents earn about equal for both genders (on average), fathers earn very slightly more and mothers earn a lot less (partly due to working fewer hours on average but this does not account for the full difference).

  11. rlm*

    I actually don’t like it when people use pictures of their kids as their Facebook profile picture, let alone LinkedIn!

      1. VictoriaHR*

        I have a crazeballs pic of my kids as my FB profile pic, just because it’s insanely hilarious to me (the 3 year old giving freak-out happy-face playing the guitar as the 5 year old with his eyes closed in the background meditates on bongo drums)

      1. Rana*

        Yup. And if it’s because you don’t want to share a picture of your own face, use an icon or something instead.

    1. RJ*

      Me too. I don’t think it’s *inappropriate* on facebook, and I’ve occasionally used a logo (e.g., marriage equality) or nature photo as a profile photo. But I have friends who are parents who ALWAYS use pics of the kids, and I do think sometimes that it would be nice to actually see my friend’s face. :)

      1. Tina*

        I have the same thought when I get holiday cards that include the children, but not the parent. I’d like to see my friend’s face, too!

    2. some1*

      I dated a single dad of a tween boy for a little while. I had to ask him to either not send me flirty FB messages (where his pic would be right next to the text) or change his pic because I left like Mary Kay Letourneau.

    3. Elizabeth West*

      I don’t mind so much; I don’t use a picture of me on Facebook either. My normal icon is the author pic on my blog, Twitter, etc. but I’d rather they didn’t scrape it for use in advertisements I never even knew about, like Facebook does.

  12. MR*

    I don’t care what the gender of the person was. If I saw this on LinkedIn as the profile picture of the person, it would be two giant hurricane style red flags to me.

    If you can’t figure out what is professional in a professional setting, what else can’t you figure out?

  13. Jane*

    When I see avatars / cartoon versions of people on LinkedIn, I get really annoyed. I tend to see it with Visual Designers or individuals new to the marketing field.

  14. smunchy*

    This exact topic came up yesterday with my husband’s new employer. A co-worker was planning to post a picture of his family as his profile picture and wanted feedback (fortunately not from me; he would have gotten an earful). When I heard this last night, my thought was Ick – don’t use a family picture as a LinkedIn profile picture. This isn’t Facebook.

    Also connected to my husband, he works in the financial services industry – financial planning. His new employer’s compliance officer instructed him not to “Like” any posts on LinkedIn. I thought that was a bit odd – does anyone know why you shouldn’t “like” posts on LinkedIn? I confess, I’ve had a LinkedIn profile for years and didn’t even realize you could “like” posts.

    Personally, I think LinkedIn has lost a lot of its luster lately, especially with the endorsements feature. I refuse to endorse anyone for anything unless I’ve worked directly with them on that topic or subject. People I barely know (not former or current colleagues) have endorsed me for things I haven’t done in years. Kind of useless.

    1. Ruffingit*

      Same here on the endorsements and I totally agree with the lost its luster. It was a good idea that’s gone off the rails in many ways IMO. I think it’s turning more into Facebook than something professionally helpful.

    2. ChristineSW*

      Totally agree about the endorsements feature! I was endorsed for something by someone I’ve never even MET but was connected to because we share a couple of mutual groups. LI definitely has lost some of its potential, at least for me.

    3. Elizabeth West*

      A former colleague keeps endorsing me for stuff; it’s nice, but I think I’m going to have to put a stop to it. I think it’s overkill.

      1. Tina*

        Egads, the endorsements drive me crazy. I’ve seen many LI group conversations venting about that very topic lately. Maybe LI will get the message?

      2. Anonymous*

        I have a former colleague doing the same thing. I assume he just wants me to endorse him back (and that’s not going to happen).

    4. Contessa*

      If your husband lists the company in his LinkedIn profile, the company might be worried his “liking” of something could reflect back on the company. My firm warned us to “be careful” what we say and like on social media for that reason (so I solved the problem by removing the firm name from my Facebook page, and never using LinkedIn for anything).

  15. Allison*

    I’m not turned off by the usual LinkedIn no-nos, I don’t care if you’re holding a drink or wearing “unprofessional” clothing. Cartoonish avatars aren’t ideal but not terrible, especially if it’s used consistently with other online profiles associated with your professional brand (Twitter, Meetup, etc.). But I want to see you and ONLY you. I don’t want to see your kids, your S.O., your spouse, your dog, or any other family members, nor do I want to see your wedding pictures. I don’t doubt you love them and want to provide for them, I wouldn’t fault you for making them a priority, but keep them out of your professional online profile. It’s like saying your a “devoted husband and loving father” in your resume, I won’t fault you for being a family man but I will fault you for bringing it up when it’s not relevant.

    Of course, I won’t write someone off as being unsuitable for the job based on their profile alone. As long as you have the skills we’re looking for, I’ll pass you along and let the hiring manager make the ultimate call.

      1. Clever Name*

        I really really don’t get this phenomenon. Are the women/girls trying to look like they’re puckering up for a kiss? Do they think it’s sexy/appealing? Is it just a goofy expression (like sticking your fingers in the corner of your mouth and sticking your tongue out)?

        /feels 100 years old

        1. some1*

          A friend of mine claims it makes her face look thinner. My private reaction was like yours, At what cost? And I say this as someone who doesn’t like the way she looks in 90% of pics. I’d rather look like my face was gigantic than look like that.

      2. ChristineSW*

        +100 I was going to comment about how LI pics look like wannabe models, but wasn’t sure if it’d offend anyone.

    1. Allison*

      Let’s not just think in terms of pictures either. Things like your side gig as a model or online poker champion are usually irrelevant, as are your political and religious views.

      1. Tina*

        A santa claus hat. Unless you play one for Christmas. But not for a young finance professional. Please.

        Yes, I’ve really seen that!

  16. Sabrina*

    Did anyone else have the image of Allison kneeling next to her bed at night saying her prayers? “God bless mommy and daddy, my fiancé, my adorable kitties, and please God stop people from including their kids on their business cards and resumes. Amen.”

  17. SarasWhimsy*

    Personally, I think that a woman would have gotten a different reaction if she asked if she could post a picture of her children rather than of herself. I’m certain that whoever said ‘it offers a whole picture of who you are and my twins are part of me’ blah blah blah, would have said to a woman ‘you’ll look like you’re too into being a mommy and won’t be taken serious.’

    As for the comment here that someone said they have contacts who’ve listed their stay at home status as CEO of Doe Inc – FFS! WTF were they thinking?!

    1. Ruffingit*

      I have seen several people who list their SAHM status as “CEO of Mom” or “CFO of Last Name.” It does make me give a bit of a side-eye to them.

      1. Jamie*

        Oh, people need to stop that right now! As a former SAHM who entered the workforce for the first time in my late 30s I’m totally on board with the untapped talent when people enter or reenter the job force after being home with kids…but that would hit even my recycle bin.

        (FTR I don’t mean SAHM are more talented or that their skills are in anyway better for having stayed home, just that it would be less of a red flag for me than for some since I’ve been there and don’t have preconceived notions about stagnation or lack of ambition.)

        1. Ruffingit*

          I hear ya Jamie, although I must say that I remember reading your story about the software you developed for your child and how you got that working to make his life better. I don’t know that I’d put you in the SAHM category. I guess technically I would, but you really did a lot to keep yourself relevant in the workforce while you were at home even if you didn’t realize it at the time. I think your story is a lesson to all SAH parents – do things you can put on your resume. So many people think the ability to wrangle kids, keep a home organized, etc. are marketable skills, but they really aren’t for most jobs I’ve seen. You need something more. Just my thoughts on it.

          1. Jamie*

            Wow – I’m way more awesome in your head than in real life. I just found different software for my kid and then would help other parents of kids with similar disabilities learn to use it…and since at that time about 6% of homes had PCs I did system set up and training as well.

            If I could develop software I’d never stop bragging – but I can’t. :)

            But yeah – I did that and other advocacy stuff with special ed and the schools as well as emarketing/PR and freelance IT stuff which was a lot easier to show how that would translate. So there are tons of volunteer opportunities for SAH parents and I really suggest keeping fingers in some pies to make it easier to go back.

            I think where those CEO SAHM are coming from is that they are running their family…but it reads as desperately naive to compare a household budget to a business – or chauffering kids places to meeting deadlines.

            It’s important work, I’m not denigrating it and I’m glad I did it…and to be honest it was the most important work I’ll ever do because the stakes were higher. I’ll never care about the end product of any job the way I cared about getting my kids to adulthood healthy, safe, and well educated. If I failed at that nothing else would ever matter…but that still doesn’t mean I’d be able to keep a straight face if I tried to compare getting three kids to little league, cheer camp, and CCD on time to project management.

            1. Ruffingit*

              Don’t sell yourself short, you’re awesome in real life even if you didn’t develop the software because not only did you do the legwork to help your kid, you helped other children too. That’s worth a pat on the back!

              I agree with you about SAH being important work, I will never dispute that. But the skills just don’t translate to the 9 to 5 working world as much as some (not all) SAH parents think it does, which is why I advocate that if you stay home, stay connected to your profession, keep your skills relevant, take continuing education classes in your field, etc. It’s a bad idea not to do that because even if you think SAH is a forever thing, so much can happen to change that. Best to always be prepared to re-enter the workforce at any time.

  18. another mr*

    Maybe this guy is really hoping for a Chik-fil-A? I bet there are some niches that value this sort of thing…

  19. Mena*

    I had understood the point of a picture on your LinkedIn profile to be that it helps people identify you. “Is this the Joe Smith I used to work with …???”

    Pics of the kids have nothing to do with your professional accomplishments, or linking you with those applicable for your social network.


  20. Jen @ ModernHypatia*

    I think what bugs me about it is that it removes useful information – I’m lousy at remembering names and faces, but if you give me name, face, and some other data, I will go “Oh, yeah, I know you from X” (especially handy for people met at conferences, people who might be met at conferences, etc.) If your user images are not of you, that doesn’t work so well.

    I accept networking connections from people I’ve worked with, or people where I have a decent sense of what their worklife is like. (That includes college friends, and people where we’ve talked about work-related stuff, but does not include “I know you randomly through X hobby, but if asked, could not remember what you do for a living.”)

    If I can’t remember without prompting the field someone is in, I probably shouldn’t be including them in my network.

    1. HR lady*

      YES. This. Very good reason why Linked In photos should be of the person, not their dog or kids or whatever.

  21. Chica*

    Related question: Alison, what do you think of people who include mentions of their spouse and/or children in their bios? Like the ones submitted for conferences. If they are keynote speakers it seems OK, although unrelated. But I really dislike it for “regular” speakers or presenters. What does the fact that you have grown kid in college X or field Y have to do with YOUR career? It is bizarre and smacks of “older” privilege.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I don’t like it in those contexts either. I don’t mind it in something like bios of staff that an organization might put on their website — those often include hobbies, etc. and are there to help people feel more of a connection with staff members. But I don’t think it belongs in conference or article bios.

    2. Jamie*

      How would this be a privilege thing? It’s irrelevant (unless the topic is related to child rearing) but I think this is just something people do humanize themselves…there is no benefit to it.

      And how could it be older privilege? You don’t have to be older to have kids.

      I did an online class once and the professors profile was all about education and day job, etc. totally relevant, and then ended it by waxing rhapsodic about how much he loved his teacup poodle. Cracked me up and made him seem less intimidating. Maybe that’s why people do it.

    3. Anonymous*

      Ugh. I once spoke at a professional event and the person I submitted my bio to is a friend of mine. She changed my bio to include the names of my cats! I was furious. I didn’t find out until the day I was speaking when the information was already distributed. I took her aside to discuss it with her and she was quite proud of herself. I had to explain to her why I purposely did not include that information and that it was unprofessional. She honestly didn’t know!

  22. BCW*

    I think people are being unfairly harsh. Maybe it just doesn’t bother me as much, but I know people who have all kinds of stuff on their linkedin. My one friend has a picture of him in his wedding tux. But when it really comes down to it, judging someone as unprofessional based on that is a bit much, to me. If we are trying to be judgment free, then why have pictures at all? I mean is someone in a t-shirt in their profile picture unprofessional?

    1. Rayner*

      Given the fact that I despise both Facebook and linked-in, I really don’t care on either front. However, I would say, having a picture of /you/ is more important.

      I’m not hiring your kids. Or your dog. Or a cartoon. I’m hiring you.

    2. Ruffingit*

      No one forces you to have a photo on LinkedIn, but if you’re going to have one, it should be professional. I think that’s the bottom line because the whole point of the site is to present your professional accomplishments. If you want to post photos of your kids, your dogs, etc. the site for that is Facebook, not LinkedIn. If I’m looking for someone to fill a job at my company, my interest is in that person’s professional accomplishments, not their kids, their dog, their wedding, etc. I don’t think it’s asking too much for people to be professional on a site meant for professional networking.

  23. ChristineSW*

    I don’t think including other people–kids, pets, whoever–on your LI profile is appropriate, regardless of gender. All I want to see is a picture of you. It doesn’t necessarily have to be one taken professionally (as you might see on an employee ID or online bio); as long as you look neat and well-groomed, it’s fine with me if it’s one you took yourself.

    I am curious about one thing related to profile pics: What do you guys think of those who don’t put anyone in their profile pic; i.e. they use a logo, a nature pic or even leave it blank (where you see just a nondescript head)? I certainly prefer to see what someone looks like, but I completely understand not wanting to share what you look like to maintain your privacy. However, I’ve read that not using an actual profile pic is considered a bit of a no-no if you’re trying to maximize networking opportunities through the site. (I hope that makes sense!)

    1. Jamie*

      I’ve been thinking about this, too…since I don’t have a pic and mine is blank.

      Most people have something, and I should, and I have tried a couple of times but I’m really camera shy and self-critical about pics so I can’t seem to bring myself to ask someone to take 100 pics of me so maybe there will be one I can live with.

      And it’s funny because I’m not at all critical of other people when it comes to this, and it’s cool to put a face with a name…I just can’t not over think this.

      And if we could use our kids I’m so there – my daughter has about 900 pics of herself on Facebook because she loves nothing better than being photographed. Apparently that’s a recessive gene. :)

      1. Anon with a name*

        This is me, 100%. I hate having my picture taken, and I know I need to get something up there but I just can’t bring myself to do it. I’m not at all photogenic!

        1. Jamie*

          That’s the word I was looking for and it eluded me – thanks.

          And the funny thing is, I’m fine with how I look in person. I’m not up for modeling assignments, nor am I a hooker…so as long as I’m well groomed, appropriately dressed, and smell pleasant it doesn’t matter if I’m Quasimodo.

          But there is something to the pic thing – my mom was a conventionally very beautiful woman…but you wouldn’t know it from 90% of the pics of her. She looked fine, but nothing like real life. And I just look goofy or pissed in every time. I don’t know if that’s a self-fulfiling thing though, because I know I will hate the outcome so I tense at the first sight of camera. I’m going to google this later to see if that’s a real thing.

          But I’ve also known some really plain people who take stunning pictures – is this something one can learn or just an accident of bone structure or whatever.

          1. Windchime*

            Yeah, I think it’s bone structure. As an anti-photogenic person, I can relate to being unhappy with pictures of myself.

            I used to know a young woman who had been a model in her teens and twenties. She was tall and thin, and she looked fine, but nothing amazing. But in pictures–WOW! She was gorgeous! So I think some people are just naturally photogenic, and others — like me– are not!

            1. Ruffingit*

              I have a friend who looks FABULOUS in every single photo ever taken. And she isn’t trying to do so, she’s just naturally extremely photogenic. That would be nice, I don’t know what that’s like myself :)

          2. Rana*

            In my experience photographing people, it’s the ones who are the most compelling in person who are frequently the hardest to make look good on film. My working theory is that it’s because they are lively and animated, and so are constantly shifting expressions, which means the odds of them being caught mid-shift (and thus looking weird or dorky) are much higher than for other people.

            (Having met you in person, Jamie, I’d say that’s at least some of it for you.)

          3. Collarbone High*

            I do think some of it is knowing the best way to look at the camera and to freeze your expression, so maybe it’s learnable? I usually look fine in photos that I didn’t know were being taken, but something about the phrase “say cheese!” magically mutates my smile into a Joker-esque grimace.

          4. LJL*

            I’ve known some rather homely people that look stunning in photos, and some beautiful ones that look horrendous in photos. I think photogenic is a physical characteristic just like any hair color, eye color, bone structure, etc.

          5. Becky*

            You can definitely learn it, at least to some degree.

            I was once opposed to having a “photo face” — you know, that person who looks the same in every photo because they know the pose that works for them in a photo and always do that when the camera comes out?

            Then I saw one too many photos of myself that looked like they’d been taken mid sneeze or epileptic fit. I decided to learn myself a photo face.

            Embarrassingly I got some good advice from watching the critique sessions at the end of Top Model episodes. Tyra often explains what the aspiring model could have done in relation to the camera to maximize the effect of a pose or minimize the weird aspects of a pose. For example, if a camera is shooting up at you from below, lean towards it or you’ll have a pin head in the photo. If the camera is above you shooting down, it’s the opposite: lean back.

            I even took the ANTM book out of the library and it had some good posing advice.

            Ultimately I learned the most by taking a few photos of myself every day. I’d take a few and then do a few more, trying to do something specifically different, based on whatever I didn’t like in the first ones. No one ever has to see these practice shots! I found it really helpful.

      2. ChristineSW*

        What’s funny for me is that I am VERY self-critical of myself in pictures (thank you thick glasses!! Even in the ones when I had contact lenses, I have one eye that loves to turn upward). Yet, I’m weirdly okay with having my picture taken anyway. I’m definitely planning to upload a new LI picture once my newly-treated hair doesn’t look so flat.

    2. Elizabeth West*

      I agree; it’s a work website, not a personal one. Just like kids sometimes don’t get that they can’t do what adults do, people forget that there shouldn’t be a lot of crossover from personal to professional.

      About your question–I usually just think that the person doesn’t have a good picture of him/herself.

      I’ll add this regarding personal sites: If it’s a dating site, I won’t even click on the ones without pictures. Shallow? Maybe, but I want to see what the person looks like. And no, do NOT put pictures of your kids in your profile picture here, either! Most sites give you room to upload a few pics, so do it there. But when I go to click on your profile, I want to see YOU FIRST.

      1. Ruffingit*

        I see nothing shallow about wanting to see a photo on dating sites. Had that discussion a couple of years back with a friend. Physical attraction is a big part of successful relationships, nothing wrong with wanting a picture up front so you know you’re not wasting your time when you see someone on the Internet. People that you have a lot in common with, but are not sexually attracted to are called friends. You need the physical attraction component when you’re talking dating. Just saying.

    3. Wilton Businessman*

      I look at it this way, others may disagree.

      I want my picture on my profile. If I met someone at a conference and they try to find me on LinkedIn, I want my picture there for confirmation that they got the right guy. Also, on the “other people you may know” section, I might recognize someone by face and not by name.

    4. Colette*

      I’m always critical of myself in pictures, but actually my employer had a “come get your picture taken” session last year. One of my colleagues is an amateur photographer, and he took pictures suitable for Linked In. It was an awesome idea – otherwise my Linked In picture would look much like my avatar here. :)

    5. Rana*

      I don’t mind if someone uses something other than the generic default head; it might not show me what they look like, but at least it gives me a visual symbol to associate with them.

      People who leave the space blank strike me as either lazy or technically inept (sorry).

  24. Wilton Businessman*

    If you use a picture of your three kids in your LinkedIn profile, I’m thinking you’re going to be missing a lot of days because of kids with sniffles and coughs. Also, I’m thinking that you’re going to be requesting all the “prime time” vacation times.

    I say DO IT! (that’s one less person I have to look at).

  25. Stephen*

    Your LinkedIn pic should be your head and shoulders, wearing a suit.

    Although, you normally wouldn’t add a photo to an American resume, so I could see how someone might want to use a image that represents their profession without accually being of them. For example an archetict could use a picture of a building they designed or admire, a professional forester could have an image of a healthy forest, or a chef could use a photo of a favourite dish.

    But your LinkedIn profile isn’t supposed to represent your whole life, it’s supposed to represent your professional persona.

  26. Hugo*

    If you already have a job, who really cares what your LinkedIn profile picture is. For some people it is just the facebook of business and they use it to connect to business colleagues, friends and fellow alumni. Yeah, maybe if you’re job hunting, different story – post a picture of yourself in a suit. It’s not like there’s a secret cabal of LinkedIn police who are going to inform the hiring managers of what your picture looks like. Even if I was hiring, I couldn’t honestly care less what somebody’s picture was, unless it was completely obscene.

  27. Bea W*

    I’m surprised he got the responses in favor of it. Puzzled. As you said, it is a professional networking site, not Facebook. Sure, your kids may be part of who you are, and being a mom or dad is a job in and of itself, but unless you are on LinkedIn to highlight your awesome Professional Dad skills, using a photo of your kids just doesn’t make any sense.

    I’m not sure a woman would have gotten a different response, at least not in the group where the man was posting.

  28. Editor*

    New outside column for Alison: Work no-nos for spouses/SOs/partners:

    1. Don’t make a workplace think you’re a crazy control freak by writing and signing a resignation letter for someone else.

    2. Don’t request time off for any employee but yourself at your own workplace.

    3. Don’t post photos of any person but yourself on your LinkedIn profile.

    4. Don’t pretend stay-at-home parenting is a corporate job on your resume or LinkedIn profile.

    5. Don’t ask for email archives from someone else’s work in order to track an affair. (I’m kind of vague about those details because I can’t remember the post exactly.)

    Are there any other less obvious things to list? (I’m leaving out the don’t assault your spouse at their workplace and don’t let your gangbanger son cause a scene at the workplace as being too obvious, but …) The headline could be: “Don’t be this person.”

  29. Kat M*

    A photo of your kids is not appropriate for LinkedIn.

    Neither is a photo of you in your wedding dress. It’s okay on Facebook for about 6 months after the wedding, and briefly on anniversaries. After that, you run the risk of looking a little too obsessed with the fact that you got hitched and threw a party. Haven’t you accomplished anything interesting since then? It’s time to move on.

    1. Ruffingit*

      Sort of off-topic, but this reminded me of a friend of mine who would frequently mention that she graduated magna cum laude from college. I finally said to her one day “It’s been 10 years. What have you done since then? That’s what people care about with jobs and life in general.” In print that comes out way meaner than it actually was when spoken, but the point is that people cling to past events a lot when in fact, it’s what you’re doing now that matters. As we used to say in Journalism, you may have won a Pulitzer, but you’re only as good as your last story.

      1. Editor*

        True. Which is why I’m baffled by all those newspaper openings on journalismjobs that boast about the award-winning paper the underpaid reporter could be joining, when the Newspaper of the Year award was five years ago (before the third through fifth round of layoffs) or the Pulitzer was 15 years ago, if not 20 or 30.

  30. Anonymous*

    I have to disagree (again!) about LinkedIn. I see it as a social networking site first and a professional site second. It’s just a little less juvenile than Facebook, but not by as much as some would like to claim. Though I suppose that depends on your FB friends!

    I still say, networking face-to-face beats any amount of LinkedIn networks. People are becoming too dependant on online stuff. I am saying that, and I’m a web developer. Seriously, power it down and go outside.

  31. MC*

    Is this person for real? I don’t care how people see LinkedIn, but its purpose does not include “being like Facebook” (a social networking site). It’s pretty lame when people assume others in their professional network are interested in their personal life. Don’t get me wrong, if you’re really into something that actually might have an impact on your professional profile (involvement in business associations, whatever..) then definitely put it on your LinkedIn to get that “full picture” of you as an individual.

    Nobody at work cares if you have kids (probably because mostly everyone does), and if they did care (i.e. they are considered friends), then chances are they already know about your kids and perhaps even have you on Facebook already. The same Facebook where you are free to share all your kids/baby photos, foodie shots, and shameless selfies.

    And back to the original question… no, I don’t think it matters if the person was a man or woman. Professionalism applies to everyone. Leave the personal stuff off LinkedIn.

    1. Bobby Digital*

      I think this person is for real. FWIW, I agree with you that the stated purpose of LinkedIn is likely much different than that of Facebook. I also, however, agree with what many here have said: purpose or not, it’s increasingly used as a social networking site. And I think it’s reasonable to see how it looks purely like a social networking site to the many people who don’t use either LinkedIn or Facebook and instead choose to network through other channels.

      Also, to nitpick a bit: not “mostly everyone” has kids.

      1. Bobby Digital*

        And getting at the point: sure, a picture of kids is gonna look unprofessional to someone who takes LinkedIn seriously. And that “someone” could very well be a hiring manager. If it’s worth the risk to you, then, sure, post the picture.

        By the same hand, though, plenty of people (and hiring managers) don’t care about/don’t use/misunderstand LinkedIn themselves. And, by placing a really rigid importance on it, you may risk alienating those people. If it’s worth the risk to you…

        The safest plan seems to be: if you’re gonna use LinkedIn, keep it professional, like Alison said, but also keep its relative priority in mind. No one’s ever gotten a job just because they -didn’t- have a kid pic on their LinkedIn.

        1. Brett*

          You will have the same issue with someone who takes Twitter seriously, Facebook seriously, Instagram seriously, YouTube seriously, etc.

  32. Brett*

    I think the bigger mistake here is considering LinkedIn a professional site.
    Sure there are more people who consider LinkedIn a professional site than Kik, but ultimately any site which does not validate the identity of its users or veracity of user profiles is not a professional site.

    There are an unbelievable number of fake profiles on LinkedIn, and I don’t think LinkedIn can be considered anything beyond a business services and occasionally professional development site, but primarily it is a business marketing site. How many of you received LinkedIn messages this past week offer your an opportunity to be a “Professional Football” “Team Lead/Brand Ambassador”? Probably at least half of us. And this is a professional site?

  33. Audiophile*

    A little late to the fray but I’m curious what others think. Right now I have no picture. But I have a connection on LinkedIn who uses a graduation photo – with the girlfriend in the photo. Does this seem professional to you? Outwardly, you can’t tell from the photo that this is this person’s girlfriend, but I think this is in the same vain as having kids in the picture. I view LinkedIn as a professional site, and thus believe the photo should only be of that person. I think including anyone else makes the person look unprofessional. It’d be like if I included a family photo or a personal photo of my mother and I.

    1. KellyK*

      Yeah, I agree that it should be a picture of just them. If it’s possible to crop the GF out, I’d do that.

  34. Vicki*

    In another blog ( a commenter mentioned that it’s against LinkedIn’s rules to use anything other than a photo of yourself on your profile.

    So I looked it up and that’s the case. A photo of your children isn’t just unprofessional; it’s prohibited.

    Here’s the rule, via

    What am I allowed to use for my profile photograph and what happens to photos that don’t comply?

    We provide you with the opportunity to add a photograph to your profile to help others recognize you. Your photo can be removed by LinkedIn if your profile image is not your likeness or a headshot photo. If we remove your photo, you can upload a different photo of yourself to remedy this situation. If we remove your photo 3 times, you will not be able to upload a photo to your profile again.

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