Having a business profile picture on LinkedIn makes your profile 14 times more likely to be clicked, but not all images are created equal. These tips will show you how to take a good profile picture.
Working with a Professional Photographer
The best profile picture comes from a professional photographer. These kinds of head shot costs around $200-400. This includes the cost of the photographer’s time shooting you, as well as their time editing the images. Oftentimes you can request extra editing for a fee, like whitening your teeth. But don’t go too overboard; you want to look natural.
If you are skipping the professional photographer—though we highly recommend using one—you’ll want to at least use a nice point-and-shoot or DSLR camera. Borrow one if you have to, but don’t rely on cell phone cameras. Make extra sure your lighting is good and stick with a plain background whenever possible. Avoid direct sunlight and seek out diffused daylight. Overcast days are the best for evenly lit portraiture.
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Look Like Yourself
Imagine a recruiter or hiring manager reads your profile and reaches out to you for an in-person meeting. You show up looking so different from your profile picture that the person doesn’t even recognize you. The shock and confusion does not allow a good first impression, and it can cause the more cynical type of recruiter to question your genuineness and confidence.
If you wear glasses most of the time, wear glasses in your photo. If you have a beard, there’s no need to shave it off, but make sure it looks neat. Be true to yourself.
If you make any drastic changes in your appearance, try to update your business profile photo.
At the end of the day, the best profile picture is the one that looks like you do today.
Getting the Angles & Expression Down
This is where a professional really helps. They can help you make the slightest adjustments to your eyes, your chin, your smile, and your shoulders to get your best angle.
Make sure your smile reaches your eyes by slightly crinkling them. Whether you show your teeth or not is up to you. It may be helpful to know that a no-tooth smile comes across more serious and professional but also less warm and inviting. Take your industry and seniority into account when deciding which one to use, but try both ways for the camera.
Practice in the mirror if it helps. You want to feel comfortable in front of the camera to avoid the nervous, sometimes unusable beginning shots.
Your professional photo will only go so far if you crop it poorly in your profile picture. Make sure your head fills up about 60 percent of the frame. You can crop very closely, too. Just make sure the bottom of the photo is no closer than just below the shoulders.
Plan to Whiten Your Teeth
Head shots just look better with whiter teeth. If you smoke or drink lots of coffee, tea or soda, you’ll probably benefit the most from this tip. Over the counter whitening strips take a few weeks to reach maximum effect, so plan ahead. If it’s too late, you can also try making a paste from hydrogen peroxide and baking soda. (Don’t make a habit of it, though, because it can damage your enamel long-term.)
Self-Care for a Glowing Look
Avoid alcohol, smoking, and excess caffeine in the days leading up to your photo shoot. Drink lots of water to stay hydrated and keep your skin smooth, and get a full night’s rest for a few days to help avoid bags and dark circles under your eyes.
If you’re wondering how to take a good profile picture, one of your top concerns may be “What do I wear?” This question is a little easier for men, but you’ll still want to pick the best colors for your skin, make sure your tie is the right shade, and even pick how casual you want to be (jacket or no jacket?)
Here are some tips to help you dress appropriately for your best profile picture.
- Bring extra clothes—you or your photographer may find a certain color or style is not doing the trick.
- Keep jewelry to a minimum. If you wear any pieces, keep them simple and understated, unless you’re in a highly creative field. Don’t make anything the center of attention, like a flashy watch or statement necklace.
- Wear long sleeves, never short. If you’re wearing a dress with straps, add a bolero or blazer.
- Stick with solid colors and clean lines. Patterns and busyness, like ruffles and pockets, can detract from your photo.
- Make sure your clothes fit well. This sounds like a no-brainer, but baggy or too-tight clothes become more obvious in photos and look sloppy and unprofessional.
Not sure if it looks right? Visit a tailor before going on a shopping spree. They’ll be able to get you started, whether it’s some simple alterations or giving you measurements to find better-fitting clothes.
- Tried and true colors are darker shades, including black, navy, green, eggplant and wine. Leave white as a pop if it’s a button-down shirt under a jacket, otherwise an all-white top will compete too much with your face.
In general, you want to avoid any color that is too close to your skin tone. You don’t want to blend into your own clothes.
Hair & Makeup
- Don’t make any new changes to your hair in week or two leading up to your photo. You don’t want that “new cut” look like a bad school photo.
- Use translucent powder to cut the shine on your skin. If you don’t have any, see if a female friend or the photographer has any you can borrow.
- For men: Facial hair needs to go one way or the other, clean-shaven or fuller beard or mustache. Avoid the stubbly in-between phase that can look too unkempt.
- For women: Keep makeup light. The camera will accentuate whatever you put on, so even the lightest eyeliner and mascara will show up more bold than it does in person. Your photographer will want to adjust the contrast and color of your photo, too, but if bright blush starts to make you look like a clown you may end up with a less than perfect edit.
Consider bringing your makeup supplies along. Start off light and then see what the photographer thinks about adding more.
You may want to consider hiring a professional hair and makeup team. They’ll be able to use professional products that work best for the camera.
Avoid any makeup, lotion or body spray that contains glitter. All it takes is one tiny fleck of shimmer to reflect the light at a bad angle and ruin an otherwise perfect shot.
Adding Action Shots
In addition to your business profile picture, you may want to have your photographer shoot some photos of you in your work setting. While you don’t want to use these as your main icon, LinkedIn does allow you to add other photos in your media section. Someone in fashion design, for example, can post photos of themselves draping on a form or drawing in their studio. Someone in management might be giving a presentation. It’s not that this kind of photo gives much information about you or your work, but it helps recruiters and hiring managers visualize you as a hard-working employee.
If you don’t think you’re photogenic or haven’t worked with a professional photographer before, knowing how to take a good profile picture may seem overwhelming. But rest assured that your professional business profile picture will have a huge impact, getting you noticed up to 14 times more on LinkedIn alone. Plus you can use this photo across all of your professional online presence as well as your e-mail icon and business card as a way to brand yourself. We hope these tips help you get your best profile picture.