When was the last time you updated your headshot? Does your LinkedIn profile have a blurry, awkwardly cropped iPhone photo of you instead of a clean, professional headshot? Did you know this could be hurting your business or career and limiting your network?
In an age in which we often are introduced to new people via the Internet, their profile photo is the generally the only visual cue we have to figure out what kind of a person they are. On business related profiles, such as LinkedIn, where our personalities often don’t come out in the text we write, how do we communicate something about ourselves that encourages people to connect and get to know us better? It is our profile image that will make the quickest and most direct impact, and will encourage a new viewer want to learn more about you. In fact, TheLadders did a study tracking the eye movements of recruiters on LinkedIn while they looked at profiles and resumes. What they discovered was that the recruiters spent 19 percent of their time looking at the profile photo, compared to an only cursory glance at the candidate’s actual resume. That is a pretty astonishing piece of data!
So, with that in mind, look at your current profile photo. Does it say at a glance who you are and what kind of a person the viewer should expect to encounter? Is it a weirdly cropped photo that contains the shoulder of your best friend from a fun night out? What does that kind of a photo say about you? Is it a vacation photo? A crooked, poorly lit selfie? Do those images speak to how amazing you are at your job and how dedicated you are to your work? These are some serious considerations to make if they are influencing your professional life. Would a potential client or employer give you a second glance with the photo you currently have?
If the answer to those questions is no, it’s time to think about having a professional headshot taken! Now, I know that getting in front of a camera can be a stressful situation for a lot of people (heck, that’s why I’m behind the camera, not in front of it!), but some of the stress can be alleviated by walking into the situation prepared. Think about what you want to convey about yourself: Do you want to appear approachable and confident? Funny? Serious? What is your message? Depending on the business you are in or the job you’re looking for, it might be a much different picture.
Generally speaking, you want to wear clothes that are appropriate to your industry. If you work in an office that requires you to wear a suit every day, then you’ll want to put on your best suit for the photo. If you work in an environment that is more business casual, you should try to wear the same kind of clothes you would normally wear to work (although, if you’re trying to move up the ladder, so to speak, you might want to consider dressing the part, whatever that might be). I always recommend wearing wardrobe that makes you feel good, fits really well, and shows off a bit of your personality. This should help alleviate some of your stress, because you’ll already know that you look amazing and it will give you some confidence walking into your headshot session.
For women, make sure your hair and makeup is both work appropriate and flattering. You want to keep it natural so people can see who you truly are, and you want the photo to remain relevant regardless of current trends. Consider hiring a makeup artist to make it perfect and to give your self a bit of pampering before your session for some additional relaxation. For men, grooming is important as well. Is your hair styled appropriately? Is your facial hair groomed or if you’re clean-shaven, you’ll want to make sure you don’t have that 5 o’clock shadow going on.
My final piece of advice is RELAX!! Stop over thinking it… Once you take a deep breath and shake out all the tension, you will naturally be able to share a bit of your personality! Leave the rest of the image-making to the professionals, and just try to be yourself in front of the camera!
Start the year off right by having your professional portrait made and watch the impact it can have on your career or business!