What should your LinkedIn Headshot look like?
A picture is worth a thousand words.
This famous American idiom is a great reminder to be choosy when selecting your LinkedIn profile picture. We live in a digital world, one where your first impression is not your handshake; in fact, it may not even be your resume that an executive recruiter or company first see when scouting potential applicants.
In your job search, you’re going to find that your first impression is often your LinkedIn profile picture. As a job searcher, ask yourself, “Is my profile photo going to land me the executive position I am desiring? According to Meero, Linkedin profiles with professional headshots receive roughly 14 times more profile views and are 36 times more likely to receive a message.
One of the keys to picking the perfect headshot is how it makes the viewer feel, especially when you are conducting an executive job search. You want to choose a headshot that shows you are trustworthy, one where you are looking at the camera.
Georgia photographer Kate Kelava offers this tip for selecting the perfect LinkedIn headshot, “Select a headshot that makes someone feel like they know you just by seeing your picture. It should reflect your personality and, most importantly, show a connection. It’s the image that you look at and say, “that’s so me!”
Boston area headshot photographer Ian Johns describes great headshots as “intimate portraits of ourselves that allow our audiences to connect with us in ways that no other type of photograph can do.” Without face to face connections, job seekers have to be able to make that connection from behind a screen; according to Ian, a great headshot can also “create and move connections and relationships all over the globe.”
Choose a High Resolution Image
The ideal size for your LinkedIn profile picture is 400 x 400 pixels. Larger file sizes are also fine (although 8MB is the max), but try to avoid small, low-resolution images.
Great LinkedIn Headshot Photos Create Trust
Are you job seeking globally or even nationally? Establishing a powerful connection and a sense of trust is going to be crucial. Make sure your headshot is up to the task.
That connection isn’t all you need to consider when picking a LinkedIn headshot. Considering your profession, what career are you looking for, and who your potential employers are is going to help you stand out from the crowd. Ultimately, after establishing a connection, your headshot also should be representative of your brand.
My friend Emma Low, a headshot and lifestyle photographer, said that the most important thing is that “ you should try to be comfortable! Comfortable with your photographer, your clothing, and in the location where you’re getting your photo taken.” She also suggested lifestyle photos (or an environmental portrait that relates to your business) are a great way to show your personality and brand over a gray office backdrop.
LinkedIn Headshot Pitfalls
When choosing a perfect first impression worthy headshot, one also needs to be aware of some of the headshot pitfalls:
- Using your graduation or wedding picture: Would you show up to an interview in your cap & gown or your wedding tuxedo? Unless you are specifically looking for opportunities open to students using your graduation photo is likely to convey inexperience. Job recruiters and employers are looking for trustworthy and talented applicants and may overlook you.
- Timeless NOT Outdated: Ian Johns says, “Everyone always complains that their headshots are unflattering, lack engagement, and look nothing like who they are as a person. They effectively described the outdated headshot. It’s the blank, deer-in-headlights eyes, the crooked smile that screams, “just take the picture already”; it’s the weird body angles, crossed-arm poses, or hunched shoulders. Outdated headshots proved we got dressed that day.”
- Bad angles: Ian Johns says: “headshot photographers are taught to get people’s noses out and their chins down. This immediately puts people in a much better position within the frame. Those two moves alone help define a sharp jawline, close off the nostrils, and open the eyes up. Say goodbye to terrible driver’s license photos!”
What Research Tells Us About Looking Likeable in a Headshot Photo
PhotoFeeler, a website that allows users to receive anonymous feedback on their photos from other users, shared their learnings from over 60,000 ratings of competence, likability, and influence that were left on photos submitted to the PhotoFeeler app.
- Look at the camera: Apparently eye blockage, as from sunglasses, can significantly harm your impression. A sunglass wearer’s Likable score drops by an average of -0.36.
- Smiling: A smile with teeth visible gains an average of +0.33 for Competence, +1.35 for Likability, and +0.22 for Influence. A laughing smile increases likability but often individuals lose points for influence and competency.
- Dress the part: Nothing they tested paid greater gains in perceived Competence and Influence than formal dress— an average increase of +0.94 and +1.29, respectively.
Tech.co gave these three tips for achieving a Timeless Headshot:
Consider Your Personal Brand When Selecting a LinkedIn Headshot Photo
A solid backdrop and neutral clothing may seem like the natural choice but think about what you wear to work. What is going to best showcase who you are and your professional brand?
In the online job market, your profile picture is your handshake. Make sure your photo conveys the confident handshake you would have in person.
Understand That You Get What You Pay For: Hire a Professional Photographer.
A photo from your cellphone may cut it for your social media profiles, but it is essential to remember that you’re seeking an executive-level career. Your LinkedIn photo should professionally represent you.
Before you begin applying for executive-level jobs and LinkedIn job postings take a look at your LinkedIn profile photo. Updating your headshot may be the key to finding a job.
Jebb Graff, a photographer based in North Carolina summarized it best: “Most winning headshots are the culmination of a good experience/trust with your photographer, eyes that connect with the viewer, and expression/posture that’s aligned to the audience you’re intending to connect with. A winning headshot isn’t necessarily your favorite picture from the session. Instead it’s the one that speaks the most to your audience and is most appropriate for your brand.”
Great LinkedIn Headshot Examples
National List of LinkedIn Headshot Photographers
Here are a few photographers to help you nail your new headshot: Have a photographer I should add to this list? Reach out to me at email@example.com.
** DISCLAIMER: I have personally used Emma Low based in Columbus, OH and Giovanna Torrieri in Raleigh, NC. The others on this list have been highly recommended to me by my former clients and acquaintances. As with any recommendation, you should do your own research to determine if they are a fit for your brand. The author of this article, Sarah Johnston, is not being compensated for sharing links.
I am one of the few job search coaches who has actually been a recruiter. I’ve interviewed hundreds of job seekers and know what companies are looking for in a candidate. I’ve also used applicant tracking systems (ATS) like Taleo and iCims and understand how recruiters scan resumes.