4 Steps to Nailing Your LinkedIn Headshot

by Kaitlan Whitteberry on July 8, 2016

For those of you that are camera shy, this may come as some bad news. You’re 14x more likely to be viewed on LinkedIn when you have a profile picture and 7X more likely to be clicked on by an employer. Also, it only takes people 1/10th of a second to draw conclusions about you based on your photo. No pressure there! Sorry to those camera shy folks, the time has come to change your ways. Don’t have a profile picture? You need to get one. Have a profile picture? You might need a new one. Here are some simple tips to make your photo stand out, for the right reasons.

1. Step Away From the Selfie

As tempting as it may be to go about this yourself, your selfie skills (no matter how advanced) are probably not a great match for the type of photo you really need for LinkedIn. If you can, enlist the help of a coworker, friendly stranger or office manager to take your photo. Be sure to pick someone you feel comfortable around, and offer to take their photo as well. 

If you absolutely must do a selfie, take some advice from Business Insider. They’ll walk you through the steps to ensure your photo is professional and represents yourself well. 

2. Dress the Part

If you wear khakis and a polo to work, that will probably work in your photo, if you wear a suit be sure to wear that for your picture. If your work attire is casual, it’s okay to wear your normal outfit, as long as your profession reflects that. However, it’s a good idea to skew a bit on the more formal side if you’re at all unsure – or are actively searching for work. Imagine you’re dressing for an interview, and wear something similar that would make you feel confident and capable. This photo is going to be the first thing most people see, and you want to come across as serious but approachable.

Studies show that for men wearing a light colored shirt paired with a dark colored jacket score higher when compared to men who wear more trendy items. For women, studies show they can get away with a bit more trendy items, but are perceived best in jewel tones and shirts with collars. 

Things to Avoid:  thumbnail-6_1.jpg

  • sunglasses
  • hats
  • trendy colors
  • wild patterns

Things to Try:

  • a solid colored shirt
  • a light shirt + dark jacket
  • jewel tones

3. Find Your Light

Using a flash tends to flatten out your face and can wash you out. Try setting up your light source to the immediate left or right of the photographer. Natural light usually looks best, so try taking your picture near a window. When selecting a background, white and gray work well. Solid light blue also works well. 

Also play with different angles. To avoid the dreaded double chin effect, have your photographer position the camera slightly above you, which is the most flattering angle for most people. Be sure to smile, with teeth if you can! This makes you look the most genuine and prevents you from looking too rigid. No one wants to hire someone who isn’t easy to work with!

4_LinkedIn_Headshot_Tips.jpg It’s a good practice to follow what’s known as “the rule of thirds”. This means that your eyes should be one third of the way down from the top of your cropped photo, and a bit off to one side. Psychologically this results in a more interesting picture to the human eye, hopefully engaging viewers so they want to spend more time on your profile. 

4. When All Else Fails Hire a Professional

If your coworker can’t seem to capture your best smile, or your office lighting is making you look slightly ill – it might be best to consult someone who really knows what they’re doing. All you need is one solid picture that can last you a few years, so investing the time and money to do it right is worth it. 

Work with your human resources or marketing departments to see if they would be willing to bring in a professional photographer for the day. That way, a large chunk of your team could get their photo taken, and they would all look consistent. If this is too much to organize, or your company isn’t interested, do a little research yourself. Many networking events host photographers for this exact purpose, and there are lots of websites you can use to access local photographers just starting out, whose prices are probably quite reasonable. This will eliminate any issues you come across as far as logistics go. They’ll provide the proper backdrop and lighting for you, and in many cases light editing so you look like yourself, on your very best day. 

A picture is the first thing recruiters are going to notice, and just by having one you’re putting yourself in good position. Taking the time and effort to really perfect your image are going to pay off in the long run. Before they even have the chance to read your summary, work history or experience you’re going to come across business-focused, approachable and most of all, serious about your career. It just might be the single best thing you can do to improve your profile. Happy picture-taking! 


Kaitlan Whitteberry

Kaitlan Whitteberry is a Magna Cum Laude graduate from the University of Missouri's journalism program, and currently focuses on iOFFICE press releases, software updates and related news.

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