Many business professionals dread the idea of taking professional headshots for work. If you’ve never taken one before, it can feel as though your looks are being put on display. If you’ve taken several professional portraits before, but they haven’t garnered the response you were hoping for, you may think that having a professional headshot doesn’t matter. However, study after study shows that having one nice professional headshot can improve your LinkedIn presence and make you more recognizable in professional circles. Here are the top four mistakes you may be making in your current headshots, along with the steps you can take to correct them.
Taking a Selfie
A selfie may work on social media, but on your company’s website and on LinkedIn, you’ll want to use professional portraits that are at eye-level and well-lighted. Your corporate headshots will garner a positive response if it looks like you took the time to make them nice. Selfies, however, should be used for you after-hours profiles.
Wearing Casual Clothes
Even if your outfit is clean and flattering, your professional photos should convey competence and trustworthiness. Plan to wear your work clothes for your professional corporate headshots, and err on the side of dressing up. You don’t need to wear a black necktie or a string of pearls, but planning to wear a nice blazer and having your hair cut in advance will convey professionalism.
Using an Out-Dated Headshot
If your professional biography says that you have two decades of experience in your field, but your professional photos feature you at age 25, it’s time for an update. Many professionals prefer to use their most flattering headshots from when they were young, but your professional image is about giving a face to your knowledge and experience, not answering a casting call. What’s worse is using professional portraits that are obviously dated, with old-fashioned hairstyles and professional wear. Using your professional headshots from the 90’s (or earlier) makes it seem like you’re stuck in the past.
Not Having a Professional Image
As a professional, you may want to be recognized for the work you do rather than the image that appears on the company site or social media. If you’re growing older, are a woman, or identify as a person of color, you may be tempted to avoid professional portraits altogether to avoid bias and let your CV speak for itself. This is a mistake. Numerous LinkedIn studies show that profiles receive more views and responses if they have an image. In other words, it doesn’t matter what is in your professional portraits. It’s more important to have a professional image that potential hiring managers, clients, and partners can identify with your skills and experience.
It can be easy to stress about how to have the “right” professional headshot, but ultimately, the goal is to help potential colleagues identify with you. You don’t have to be a model to have a good headshot. Having a single nice, professional image is all that you need to take your online presence from good to great.