Photo courtesy of Mat Robinson of Enduring Images Studio
If someone doesnt have a photo of himself on his LinkedIn profile, Im not inclined not to trust him, a hiring manager said the other day. Many people feel this way. Whoa! This message is coming in loud and clear: If your goal on being on LI is to network and potentially be considered for job opportunities, get a photo up there, and make it a good one!
Have you noticed that the photos are bigger on the new LI profiles? LI is moving in a direction paved by other social media sites that know that visuals are HUGE in terms of impact and influence. You only have to look at the role visuals pay on Facebook and, of course, the explosive growth of YouTube. The new media button that is being rolled out by LI is further evidence that visuals in this case slide shows, videos, and additional photos are key to conveying individual and corporate brands.
With the new, larger LI photo, you have more of a chance to create a more personal connection with the employer or recruiter who views it, before they ever read a word about you. Your executive resume also will be read with more interest if the reader has a mental picture of you. A properly lit image of you, appropriately dressed, with an engaging expression, can enhance your written profile, invite trust, and provide an intimacy that words alone could never do!
Think about what a friendly, open, constructive person looks like. Do you like the headshot of someone youre connected to? You want your image to be professional but not stuffy. Above all, you want to look approachable.
The good news is that you dont have to win a beauty contest for your photo, just have a great expression.
Here are 7 valuable tips that can help you ensure that your photo will HELP YOU, not hurt you (remember, having no photo WILL hurt you), and even serve as a competitive advantage for you!
- Hire a portrait photographer to get a professional quality headshot of you facing into the camera. An angled picture can make you look sneaky. A profile picture doesnt allow for eye contact. Sometimes your investment can be little more than $100 for a professional to help you out. Dont use a Facebook-type picture of you partying with friends. If you can't afford a professional, then find a friend with a digital camera to take some pictures of you against a white background. Then pick the best shot.
- Use good lighting so that your photo gives a fair representation of what you look like and so that your face isnt bathed in shadows.
- Use a white or neutral background. Some people use black. You dont want to have a photo with a distracting background. Try to capture from the neck or shoulders up.
- Dress for success. If you are applying for an executive or managerial position, dress for the role. A good rule of thumb is to dress the way your immediate superior does on the job. For a woman, avoid too much jewelry or busy patterns. For a man, keep your tie (if you are wearing one) from stealing the show.
- Have the photographer try to capture some of your personal brand attributes by conveying them in your expression. They may include one or more of the following: leader-like, sincere, assertive, strong, charismatic, steady, creative, humorous, outgoing, confident, etc.
- If you are worried about age discrimination, then feel free to touch up the gray hairs and use a healthy layer of foundation for a youthful and energetic appearance. I recommend getting a professional makeup job done, for both men and women. Theres a reason why TV anchors look so great and why they have teams to make them look that way! Ask your local hair designer for a referral to someone good.
- Finally, try to look as up-to-date as possible. This means having your hairstyle and your clothing styles current, but not far-out trendy. Some of the larger stores have personal shoppers: Nordstrom, J Crew etc. Take advantage of their free guidance in selecting a suitable outfit.
See how great a professional headshot can be by viewing the image above. If you are in the New Jersey/New York area, contact Mat. Otherwise, try to find a professional near you whose work you like. Your headshot on LinkedIn, done right, can be an immediate invitation to a recruiter or hiring authority to read on and find on-brand, written content and, hopefully, more visuals that cause them to contact YOU.