Why You Need a Business Headshot

Jule Kim Seattle Headshot Photographer

Did you know recruiters actively look up potential candidates online on LinkedIn and Facebook? Around 10 years ago, recruiters doing online checks were considered cutting edge, but now it’s pretty much a certainty that checking your online presence is baked into the recruiting process. In fact, a lot of recruiters and HR staff are just going straight to LinkedIn to start their search to begin with, especially for jobs that they need filled right away.

This means that your profile photos on the various social media platforms are the first and most important factor. Don’t have a photo online? Well, that’s not a loophole either. Many recruiters won’t even look at the rest of your profile if there’s no photo.

Remember, you are your brand, and the product you’re selling is the story of who you are and what skills you have. Does your current LinkedIn photo make sense in the context of your skills and the job you want next?

Signs You Need a New Professional Headshot Photo

Here are some signs that you need a new headshot:

  • Your LinkedIn photo is more than 5 years old
  • You’ve never had a professional headshot taken
  • You’re using grainy cellphone pictures of you at a party
  • Your current profile photo is one half of a photo where you cropped out the person in the other half
  • Multiple people have told you politely that your photo keeps them from taking you seriously
  • People don’t recognize you when you show up to interviews

If any of the above holds true of you, then it’s time to end the period of denial and have your headshots updated.

What Real Recruiters are Saying

Over the years I’ve had a lot of recruiters complain to me how some of their candidates have the most inappropriate LinkedIn photos.

One of them explained that it’s a total package: skills AND image. This means that your photo really matters. When working to fill a position, a recruiter sends over the names of the best match candidates. The internal staff will often sit down to vet the list, and this process sometimes includes pulling up a picture of each candidate and projecting that image on a large screen.

If your profile photo is already less than ideal to begin with, can you imagine having that photo blown up huge and having who knows how many people looking at it while they consider you for a job? I’m sure you can see how an unprofessional style photo can hurt your chances by undermining the credibility of your resume.

Jacqueline Miller, an HR exec for over a decade, likes to tell this to candidates looking for a job: “Nothing personal, just business. Show me what you will look like when you’re on the clock, as opposed to when you are not. Don’t eliminate yourself from the running because your photo reflects more of a partier vs. potential high-performer.”

“A lot of times, the first thing I tell a candidate is that their current LinkedIn photo has to go. Nope, just stop arguing with me and change it already,” says one Seattle recruiter.

“My big pet peeve is when senior level executives have a profile photo where they were clearly at a wedding or at a bar, and sometimes there’s even someone doing shots in the photo. I can’t have that…if I’m going to pass on a candidate to a big company and they see that kind of picture, I would be embarrassed.”

Examples of Bad LinkedIn Profile Photos

Another recruiter in the Pacific Northwest lists the issues he most commonly has with potential candidates:

  • wearing sunglasses in pictures
  • the person’s photo is very obviously 10+ years outdated
  • their “headshot” is a selfie of them in the car, with the seatbelt on, no less
  • the photo is so blurry that the picture could pretty much be of anyone
  • women making duck lips, and showing too much cleavage
  • LinkedIn photos that crop out another person on the other side, leaving disembodied arms in the photo

If you’re serious about your career and getting that next job, then you should be going down the checklist and doing your due diligence, which includes having a good quality, professional headshot.

Characteristics of a Great LinkedIn Profile Photo

Ok, so we’ve run through a bunch of the biggest and most common offenses seen in business headshots. Here’s a list of what makes for a good, or even great, headshot:

  • You look like you, but very polished. Polished = professional!
  • Your facial expression is friendly and welcoming
  • Your body language should be work appropriate
  • The photo is high quality and decent resolution, not grainy or blurry
  • Your clothing and pose in the headshot fit your profession or industry
  • The lighting is attractive, your face stands out (i.e. your face isn’t hard to see), and your eyes should be visible
  • You’re looking at the camera, and therefore connecting with the viewer
  • The setting or location in the photo is appropriate, and isn’t in a bar or at a party unless those are relevant to your profession
  • Your photo has just you in the picture

How to Pick a Headshot Photographer

Go find a photographer who understands what you’re looking for, have a chat–or meet them in person–and pick who you like best and has the best looking portfolio.

Your conversation with them should cover all of the following points:

  • the personality and mood you want your business headshots to convey
  • how you plan on using the photos (online, printed brochures, business cards, etc.)
  • where you would like the photos to be taken
  • what you plan on wearing for the session
  • examples of other photos that you like and don’t like
Jule Kim

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