November 15, 2013
Put your best face forward for online profile pictures
Admit it: Your social media profile picture is a selfie, isn’t it?
That may work for teens on Facebook, but for job seekers and professionals, a polished headshot has become as vital as a typo-free resume.
“It’s very important to have a professional-looking picture on LinkedIn,” says Lauren A. Rothman, author of the new book “Style Bible: What to Wear to Work.” “That doesn’t include a cropped party photo with a glass of wine in your hand and a friend’s arm slung around your shoulders.”
Recruiters and employers research potential employees online, so your profile pictures should match your industry’s dress code, says Rothman. For example, an aspiring lawyer should wear a suit.
On the other hand, some fields encourage creativity. When Issaquah photographer Brooke Clark of Studio B Portraits received a phone call from a graphic designer who asked if she could use a Pantone color fan as a headshot prop, Clark knew the shoot would turn out well.
• Pixelated photo
• Bad lighting (too dark, too many shadows)
• Strange or non-business background
• Inappropriate clothing, such as a bikini or running clothes
• Cartoon or avatar images
• Expression too serious or grumpy
• Too personal, such as from your wedding or vacation
• Crop from a group shot
• Showing too much cleavage or arm
• Out-of-date image of yourself
“What makes you special and different should translate in your headshot,” Clark says.
The final image shows only the designer’s playful eyes, peeking over colorful columns. “We want to see your personality in your headshots,” she says. “In this headshot, the designer says: ‘I’m creative.’”
If you choose to use a professional photographer, enter terms such as “business headshots” and your city into a search engine to browse photographer portfolios for work you like. “It’s a long-term investment,” Clark says. “Buy the best photographer you can.”
Clark suggests bringing images of celebrities close to your age and coloring. “Don’t be afraid to share an idea or collaborate with the photographer,” she says.
If you can’t afford a professional independent photographer, consider a mall studio for a quick shot. And if that’s still more than you have to spend, Rothman suggests dressing in a professional outfit and asking a friend to take a cellphone pic. Skip artsy filters (unless you’re a true artist, of course). Ensure that it’s not blurry or too dark, and that the background doesn’t distract.
No matter who is taking the picture, choose your outfit carefully. If you’re unemployed or seeking one of your first professional jobs, go conservative, Clark says. A background of outdoor greenery is also acceptable, particularly here in the Pacific Northwest.
Focus on your head and shoulders, as that tiny LinkedIn box needs only the basics. For clothing, Rothman says that bold, solid colors work best, although white shirts also work well against a gray background.
It’s important that you show up for your shoot well groomed. Women should try to get their hair and makeup done on the day of the photo shoot, while men should plan a haircut three to five days before, Rothman says.
“Don’t go for an ultra-trendy look in your shot, unless you’re in a particularly trendy field,” Clark says; the photo will date too quickly. Mistakes that some people make before a sitting include a dramatic makeover or brand-new hair color.
“You want to look like the very best version of yourself in your LinkedIn photo,” Clark says. “Take a few photos with your glasses on and off. In some, wear colorful prints; in others, more somber business clothing. If you wear accessories, do so in your photos.
“Be authentic, because that’s going to get you the job.”
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