LinkedIn Profile Pictures – Colour or Black and White?

Louise Axon both

LinkedIn Profile Pictures – Colour or Black and White?

I was working with a recruiter last month who was interested in having a new photograph for their LinkedIn profile. I was happy to oblige, it’s something I’ve done for other clients, so I took some pictures for the consultant to choose from.

Now the company policy is that all photographs on LinkedIn need to be in black and white so the consultant, Louise Axon, picked the above right image as her new LinkedIn profile picture.

(Louise is a head-hunter who operates within the furniture and medical devices sectors)

We were all quite happy with the outcome and none of us thought anything of it. Until about a week later when I was at another client’s office who said that they knew that black and white pictures got you more views on LinkedIn.

Now I am aware, because LinkedIn have told me, that having a photograph increases your numbers of hits by up to 40% but I am not aware of any statistics which show black and white being superior to colour in this respect.

So I thought I’d do some market research … and I posted both images as a status update and invited my network to cast a vote and share their thoughts. The response was amazing!

There ended up being over 400 comments on the update and some very interesting observations made which I thought I’d share below:

Crop tighter

“You should consider a tighter crop as with profile images it’s all about the eyes and facial engagement”

Olivia Brabbs, Photographer

Several people echoed Olivia with the suggestion that the pictures, either one, could do with a sharper crop. Something that on reflection I would agree with. I think this shows the value of having an editor or at least sharing your image with someone else before you upload it.

Black and white is so last century

“There is a reason we all got rid of our old B&W TV’s. Think about that.”

Wade Rohloff, Safety Consultant and Illustrator

“Black and white makes her look like the photo was taking in 1930 or there about”

Chileshe Mulenga, Executive assistant

I’m a big fan of classic black and white movies – no one ever looked cooler than Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca but, and I concede the point, such movies are from a while back. (Although I would argue there is a difference between ‘old fashioned’ and ‘classic’!)

It has been mentioned to me, by several people, that they feel that black and white pictures can become ‘samey’ and the very rigid ‘corporate authorised’ images that some companies, particularly recruiters it seems, go for can make everyone look the same. 

Playing devil’s advocate however perhaps the modern world is so used to vibrant colours and marketing that black and white is just a little ‘old school’ now? Clearly from the comments that we have had some people would argue that.

Personally I feel that the black and white images can look good, sharp and even modern but black and white images have to be done in the right way and with a little thought – more of that below.

People will judge what you wear

“Neither, the young lady’s top might be considered too revealing for a professional LinkedIn profile photo.”

Steve Elliott, VP, Chief Financial Officer

Steve was the most outspoken about things but both Louise and I got private messages from a couple of people who felt her picture was, to various degrees, inappropriate.

Now with the best will in the world I think that’s ridiculous. We are not living in the 1950’s anymore and in my opinion Louise is professionally attired and perfectly presentable. That said I asked for opinions so being more neutral I think it’s worth noting that not everyone will have the same level of acceptability as you so consider your market and what is acceptable in your professional industry.

I certainly see plenty of images on LinkedIn that I feel are not appropriate for a professional business image! I wrote about that here – Five LinkedIn Profile Picture Mistakes to Avoid

As a counter other people had, in my opinion, a more modern and realistic mindset;

“After some of the pictures I have seen on LinkedIn, this is one of the most professional”

Reg Russam, Recruiter

Reg also went on to say:

“Funnily enough, I was looking at a possible human resources candidate yesterday and her LinkedIn picture was her in a bikini, I’ll be honest, it sort of put me off contacting her – especially with employers scowering the internet for backgrounds etc.”

The point is this – people will judge so you have to be happy that you are appearing professional and appropriate for yourself and your market.

Get it done professionally

“If a portrait isn’t created correctly for B&W then it should be color. But I could show you portraits I’ve created just for B&W that would never look as good in color. The photo seen here should be in color.”

Russell Hansen, Master Photographer

Now many moons ago I went to art college and I was taught to use a camera – that doesn’t make me a photographer it makes me someone who has a very little knowledge of how to take a good picture … ultimately if you want a really good photograph then, like most things in life, go to a professional.

And if you can’t do that then go to someone like me who has something of an idea of what he is doing. Photography is one of those areas where a little knowledge goes a long way and an enthusiastic amateur can be a perfectly acceptable option.

People see the details

“The eyes of the lady, being dark, seem more intense in the color version.”

Martin Fernandez, Graphic Designer

So people are looking at the fine details! Additionally several people commented that the button on the sleeve was distracting and others commented on the lipstick being noticeable with some people liking that and some not.

So details get noticed – I had manipulated the colour image to boost the reds so the lipstick was a design choice but I had missed the button. Another prompt to have an editor or at least someone who checks over your image before you upload it.

It’s all about the PR and your personal brand

Your LinkedIn image represents your personal professional brand so consider your image with care. Several people commented that black and white gave a more professional but colder feel to the image whilst the colour one was warmer.

It was suggested that some markets would welcome colour or black and white more depending on their cultures. The emotional impact of your picture definitely needs to be considered and how that fits into the bigger personal brand that you are striving to create needs to be considered.

A couple of people, including Liesbeth Leysen, Director of Public Relations and Media congratulated me on creating PR and marketing for Louise (and myself) through this exercise – a charge I can neither deny nor confirm!  

I would like to highlight that Louise did not share this update on her network as she didn’t want to be mistaken as an attention seeker. She is much more interested in establishing herself as the competent recruiter that she is!

And this was a decent picture

Consider the amount of discussion, debate and criticism that was provoked by this image and further consider that at the end of the day this is a fairly decent photograph of Louise. It doesn’t commit any of the usual profile picture sins e.g. no one else is in the picture, it’s a clear image, it’s been taken specifically for LinkedIn not just copied over from Facebook etc.

So it might be worth looking at your image and considering how well it measures up and how open it is to criticism!

And the verdict

I laboriously counted the votes and I can announce that the winner is as shown below!

 Louise picture results


 So 39% more people preferred colour to black and white. Now that might just be a reflection on this particular image so I wonder if it reflects a wider preference these days?

What do you think – not just with regards to this image but with LinkedIn profile pictures in general – which do you prefer, black and white or colour?

Feel free to share your thoughts below .

Finally thank you to everyone who commented on Louise’s image and to Louise for being a acting as research specimen! As a result of the exercise and the feedback this final image was produced for Louise to use:

Louise Axon final

Until next time; be successful!
Stephen Hart
Development Specialist,


Motivational Monday #101 Give Away Everything


Motivational Monday #101 Give Away Everything

“Give away everything you know and more will come back to you.”

I have a collection of notebooks that I record research notes in. These range from one line ideas to detailed, multipart development notes that stretch over many pages. I’ve been keeping these manual research notes for almost a decade now and in the back of one of the earliest there are the following notes:

“Do not covet your ideas. Give away everything you know and more will come back to you.

The problem with hoarding is you end up living off your resources. Eventually you’ll become stale. If you give away everything you have, you are left with nothing. This forces you to look, to be aware, to replenish.

The more you hoard the more you reduce your capabilities.”

Now it’s one of my older notebooks, when I was less consistent in my note taking, and I can’t find a source or author (let me know if anyone recognises it) so I can’t give the appropriate credit.

What I can do is tell you how I feel about that advice a decade after first reading it. Back when I first read it I was very uncomfortable. I’m a person who makes a living, in part, through what he knows. If I gave away everything I knew then my concern was that I’d give away my livelihood. Or at least I would make it harder for me to earn a crust!

Despite my concerns I have tried over the years to apply the advice and give freely of the information that I have – hence the 350 odd articles on my website and my contributions to discussions on LinkedIn and answers on Quora.

What I have experienced is exactly what the unknown author said – there becomes a need to become aware and replenish what you know. When you give away what you know you are forced to learn new things – unless you want to become that really boring person at parties who only has the one story to tell!

Whatever you are good at – sales, management, cooking, DIY or whatever – the more you share of your knowledge the more people will probably turn to you for advice. As you realise that people are going to come back to you for advice you will be prompted to keep learning because you need to ensure that you have an answer for the next time someone asks you something!

I’ve also found that it is dissatisfying to give out the same advice all the time and that has driven me to look for new answers, sometimes directly challenging my long held views to see if there is something new out there – a point that will be highlighted tomorrow when I write about some LinkedIn research I did recently.

The other thing that happens is that as you give away and share your knowledge you will learn more. Many people will just accept what you say but others will question why you say what you say or how it is that you know what you know. Those discussions will sharpen up your thinking and force you to look inwards.

When you realise through discussing a point how fragile your knowledge is that moment of realisation can act as a really useful prompt to learn more!

We all have our own skill sets and whatever yours might be I can promise you are safe to share it. Yes it will prompt you to learn more about your area of knowledge but I think that’s a great thing! I can also vouch for the fact that as you give away what you know you will have positive, funny, sometimes intimate and sometimes challenging conversations that will enrich your life. Surely that can be only a good thing!

Until next time; be successful!

Stephen Hart

Development Specialist,

Motivational Monday #100 The Truth Is Out There


Motivational Monday #100 The Truth Is Out There

“I want to believe.”

Fox Mulder

When I started thinking about the fact that the 100th article was coming up I tried to think of what my biggest and best suggestion or idea might be.  Unfortunately that didn’t work and I couldn’t settle on what to write! So in fact I think that’s the first point that I’d like to share in this centenary article.

There isn’t one big idea that is bigger than everything else. There isn’t a single answer to the challenges that confront us in life.

Life rolls on, days come and day go and some are good, some are average and some are downright rubbish – oh and of course because life is a real rollercoaster some days are all three!

What will help one day isn’t going to necessarily help the next day. Also, and I think this is something I was guilty of searching for when I was younger, but there isn’t a single magic bullet of advice that will permanently slay all evil.

That might work in the fairy tales but in real life the reality is a little more complicated. Sage advice, a positive motivational quote and words of wisdoms can help and can make a difference but I am reminded of what the late, great Zig Ziglar said when he wrote

“Motivation is like bathing. You have to keep doing it for it to make a difference.”

It isn’t realistic to expect to find one piece of advice that will fix everything but you can expect to find pieces of advice that will help a little and often.

So try to find time in your day to stop and think some positive thoughts, to play your favourite music or talk with a friend.

Life if you let it can sweep you away with a flood of obligations, must do’s and have-to-do’s. That becomes a heavy burden and without something to lighten the load it can ultimate wear down even the strongest person.

Personally I have found the most profound ideas, the best motivational thoughts and frankly the cleverest solutions to the challenges of life have come from other people. Over the last 100 articles I have tried to capture and relay some of the ideas that have come my way. Many of the best of those were inspired by conversations with some of the wonderful people that I know or have met in passing over these last few years.

And that is something I have really learnt for myself from writing these articles – that the best way to gain new ideas, to grow as a person or to find motivation is through other people. Talk to them, ask them questions and listen with an open mind and an open heart.

Not every view is correct, not every opinion will match with yours but those other views and opinions will give you something to think about and every so often the most unexpected person will say something that will change your life just a little bit.

Wisdom and motivation respect no title, no rank and no privileges. They are the domain of us all so if you want to have more of them in your life then look, both at the people all around you, and also the people who pass through your life fleetingly.

And have faith that the life that you have had up to this point has also given you knowledge and wisdom that you can share with others. As the famous quote from Marianne Williamson goes

“Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do.”

So not in a sense of egotism but in a sense of wonder at the power of mankind’s inherent goodness I suggest that maybe we should all shine a little brighter, share a little more of what we know and share more of what makes us positive.

After all if everyone one of us strove to make the world a little more understanding, positive and bright wouldn’t that truly change the world? 

Like Fox Mulder I want to believe that and in fact after these 100 articles I do believe it.

Until next time; be successful!

Stephen Hart

Development Specialist,

The Power of Being a Niche Recruiter


The Power of Being a Niche Recruiter

When, at the beginning of the year, I surveyed Yorkshire based Managing Directors of recruitment companies one of the big things that came back was an overwhelming belief in the power of recruiters working within a niche (full details here).

At the end of February I was down in London attending a ukrecruiter and RIBA event where one of the panel debates was on being a niche recruiter.

The three panel members were Alan McBride, David Smith and Alana Carroll.

A couple of interesting comments were put forward by the panel – all of whom run niche recruitment companies and the comments closely echoed what had come back on the Yorkshire focused survey that I had conducted:

Alan McBride of Camino Partners Ltd said

“Being a niche recruiter is a strength because you have the option to say ‘no’ to clients; then when you say ‘yes’ the no adds strength to the yes.”

It’s a great point and was made in reaction to a question of whether a niche recruiter should go outside of their speciality should a client ask it. The point was made that it was sometimes heart-breaking to have to turn work away however the purity of the desk was felt to be more important and more profitable in the long run than grabbing a quick fee outside of the niche.

David Smith of Interactive Selection said

“Live and breathe the industry. Embed yourself in it.”

David expanded on this and explained that it was important that a recruiter looking to go down the niche route really needed to have some level of interest in the sector. That would then make learning about the industry and going to exhibitions and events much more pleasant and positive.

On that point going out to events and exhibitions was highly recommended by all panellists and having a background in the sector was recommended strongly by Alana and Alan. To be clear they didn’t feel it was an absolute prerequisite but certainly beneficial.

Alana Carroll of Gravitas Recruitment (SW) LTD said

“Build your business based on reputation. Treat candidates and clients with equal respect because you never know who will be important in the future.”

All experienced recruiters reading this will be nodding with agreement – candidates become clients – is the old adage within recruitment but the panel member, and I agree with them, felt that things have moved on from there. Given the current skill shortage in most sectors the value in candidates, especially passive ones is who they in turn know.

In other words there is no need to wait for candidates become clients – they are, right now, capable of making you introductions to unique, off the grid, placeable individuals who can make you a fee!

In summary the event in London was thought provoking and well attended by recruitment directors from across the country. On a personal level it provided an opportunity for me to meet a number of contacts who I have only known online up to now and rather pleasingly several of the people who I met are regular readers of this blog!

These director level events are held quarterly and I think they are well worth considering attending if you go with an open mind, as you should with all networking events! You can view future events via the ukrecruiter website.

Stephen Hart

Development Specialist,


Motivational Monday #99 Start Where You Are

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Motivational Monday #99 Start Where You Are

“Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.”

Arthur Ashe

When you read the histories of successful people there are very few common factors. Some start rich, with good connections and great resources to draw upon whilst others start poor, knowing no one and with few resources. About the only thing that they do have in common is that they started.

And that’s a really big thing. How many of us have had ideas of things that we could do – songs or books we could write, businesses we could create or changes we could make in our lives and yet how many of us have not acted on those ideas? Surely for every JK Rowling there are hundreds of us with book ideas that lie dormant and unwritten.

I think it’s that we are often waiting for the perfect circumstances to get started or if not the perfect circumstances then at least something else to happen or to be in place. We tell ourselves that ‘once we have that new laptop’ we will start writing that book or ‘once this month is out of the way’ we will be able to focus on the new project. And thus our plans and ideas slip and slide further and further into the future.

The great Zig Ziglar used to say that “You can’t wait for all the lights to be green before you head into town” and he’s absolutely right. With the same thinking we need to start with what we have now if we really want to go on the journey that we are imagining in our heads.

I remember watching a documentary on the legendary footballer Pele, perhaps the greatest footballer the world has ever seen, and how he started off kicking tin cans in the backstreets of the town he grew up in not being able to afford a proper football – which is about as disadvantaged as you can get. I wonder what would have happened if he had waited until he had a proper football prior to practicing his skills?

Fortunately he started with what he had and then he moved on from there and the rest is history. And I think there is a lesson in there for all of us.

The truth is we probably don’t have the ideal resources that we want right now but surely it’s better to start with what we have than to stagnate and do nothing whilst we wait for the ideal resources or circumstances.  Consider that the Declaration of Independence was drafted on the back of an envelope so you can probably start writing your book on the computer you have or even on paper! Make some headway whilst you are waiting and when the new laptop arrives it will be a bonus!

So if you have an idea for something new or some change you want to make in your life then consider that you will have some resources that you can use and whilst they might not be ideal they will get you started and getting started is one of the keys to success.

Stephen Hart

Development Specialist,
P.S. I realise that Arthur Ashe was a cricketer however I don’t know any cricket stories hence talking about Pele! Hopefully you will all forgive me for mixing the sports up a bit! 

Recruitment Survey 2015 – the Results

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Recruitment Survey 2015 – the Results

The recruitment industry has been through the mill these last five years but the corner seems to have been turned … or has it?

At Edenchanges we thought it would be good to go out and ask some questions of the people who are most likely to know – managing directors of recruitment firms. These are experienced business professionals and recruiters and at the leading edge of the recruitment industry.

And because Edenchanges are based in Yorkshire, and we thought it would be interesting to get a northern perspective so we limited our questions to Yorkshire based managing directors – although the firms queried recruit across the country and in several instances globally.

The four survey questions which we asked were:

  1. Where do you see the biggest challenge to recruitment firms coming from in 2015?
  2. Given both the continued increase of social media recruiting by companies directly and the increase in internal recruitment teams, how can external recruiters still add value to their clients?
  3. What advice would you give to a new recruiter coming into the industry in 2015?
  4. What do you think is the most important skill for a recruiter to master?

The answers were honest and thought provoking and you can read them online (or download a copy) by clicking on the image below:

View from the top

In summary whilst almost every company questioned is looking to expand there are clear challenges ahead that recruiters need to address. The markets are shifting and recruiters need to adjust what they do if they want to thrive.

I would like to thank all the respondents who generously took time out of their busy schedules to share their views with me. This e-book has been written and produced in the belief that we in recruitment are stronger together.

Stephen Hart

Development Specialist,


Motivational Monday #98 Relationship Attitudes


Motivational Monday #98 Relationship Attitudes

Whenever you’re in conflict with someone, there is one factor that can make the difference between damaging your relationship and deepening it. That factor is attitude.”

– William James

There is that old saying that life doesn’t come with a handbook and nowhere is that more true than in that thorny, twisty subject of relationships.

For example I remember many years ago my mother telling me that it was a good thing that I’d had an argument with my girlfriend of the time. I remember being really taken aback as in my naïve young mind the course of true love always ran true and arguments had no place in the rosy mental picture that I had of romance.

Now I am at an age where my eldest son is having those first serious romances and we are having those same discussions around love, romance and relationships that I had had with my parents.

At the dinner table the other night St Valentine’s Day prompted such a conversation and it got me thinking about the ebb and flow of relations and how conflict is often a critical factor in deepening a relationship.

Even Hollywood recognises this. In most romance films the protagonists typically have their relationship deepened as a consequence of conflict and disagreements – When Harry Met Sally or Hitch being two examples that spring to mind.  

And yes those are just made up stories but if we are honest with ourselves isn’t it true that all of us have been influenced in some way in the art of romance and relationships through movies.

We are back to there being no handbook for life and it’s far less embarrassing to watch a movie and then copy something from there than to ask someone!

So we all muddle through and try to learn by doing in the field of romance but I think the positive side of conflict gets over looked. We have a natural inclination to veer away from it and even the movies don’t help very much as I think typically we remember the happy endings rather than the journey the characters went on.

So that leaves us then with either our own hard won experiences or words of wisdom that we might get, if we are brave enough to ask, from friends or family members.

Or in some instances you can read something that can really make a difference. I found the quote from William James last week and I think it’s a real pearl of wisdom (as quotes from William James often are).

Consider for a moment the last heated discussion you had with your significant other – and sadly the slightly artificial and forced nature of St Valentine’s Day can often create those unwanted discussions – when you were having that discussion were you really trying to deepen your relationship or did you have a different goal?

I know that if I am arguing with someone then I am not trying to deepen the relationship I am trying to prove a point – that my view or version of the facts is correct and consequently, either by implication or directly, they are wrong. Now at best that might make me ‘right’ because my version of events has been agreed to but it isn’t likely to deepen the relationship I have with the other person.

If I am discussing a point with someone that’s different and whilst it might involve a strong debate about things it isn’t in itself about proving the other person wrong.

Too often I think our intent, which is powered by our attitude, is to prove our point and yet that is a very hollow and short sighted victory; assuming we achieve that victory at all.

Heated discussions are going to occur in all real relationships because they show that both parties care enough to debate; which was what my mother explained to me all those years ago. The trick is to have a positive attitude and turn what could be arguments into discussions.

And if anyone is reading this after having a stormy St Valentine’s Day then it is probably possible to go back to the other party and start again. With a positive, caring and relationship focused attitude maybe you can have a more constructive discussion and in fact deepen your relationship due to the conflict rather that to suffer from it.

Stephen Hart

Development Specialist,
Photocredit – – used with thanks
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