Be Thoughtful About Your LinkedIn Headshot

Martin Yate By Martin Yate September 15, 2020
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Be Thoughtful About Your LinkedIn Headshot

​Unless you have a career in modeling, acting or other on-camera work, don't put your picture on your resume. Employers worry that they could be accused of racial or sexual discrimination based on those photos.

But do be sure to put your picture on your LinkedIn profile, where it appears on the top left section of the page and is the first thing recruiters see when they visit your profile. A profile without a picture is considered incomplete by LinkedIn, and this hurts your resume's discoverability ranking. Conversely, a profile with a headshot will get many more clicks.

Make sure your photo is of high quality and professional in nature. After all, a picture is worth a thousand words. You can expect recruiters to form an opinion of you based on your headshot—before they read a single word you've written.

Your headshot is the image of yourself that you choose to present to the world. It's the face of your brand and tells the world how you want to be seen. As a result, the wrong headshot could hurt your chances of landing an interview. Choose a photo that makes you look professional, confident and pleasant—the same image you want to present at a job interview.

Every Picture Tells a Story

Your LinkedIn profile picture is there to help you get a job, not a date, so pictures that include tuxedos, strapless dresses, bar scenes, beaches and outdoor parties are entirely inappropriate.

If you're seen as professional (which implies competence) and friendly, this visual will encourage recruiters to accept the claims you make in your profile, whereas a too-casual or too-sexy shot will call your professionalism into question.

Remember, too, that your future manager and colleagues will be visiting your profile page. They'll want to learn about you before the interview and before you come into the office on your first day. Additionally, potential professional network connections will be influenced by your headshot when sizing you up for a connection.

Can You Get Away with a DIY Headshot?

As long as you look professional, the headshot doesn't have to be professionally done. But do dress as you would for a job interview.

Ask a friend to take a bunch of photos of you in business clothes against a plain background. It's a good idea to look at a range of headshots for angles, poses and expressions you feel are best for you. For inspiration, look at corporate websites where a professional photographer took profile photos of the management team.

Notice the range of distances and angles that the headshots are taken from, as well as the lighting levels that produce the best results.

Finally, choose a photo that shows you looking into the viewers' eyes with a smile, inviting them to learn more about your experience and how you'll be the best person for the job.

Best-selling author Martin Yate, a career coach and former HR professional, takes your questions each week about how to further your career in HR. 

 From big issues to small, please feel free to e-mail your queries to YourCareerQA@shrm.org. We'll only publish your first name and city, unless you prefer to remain anonymous—just let us know.

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