2013-06-26

Your Headshot - LinkedIn DON'Ts

I initially made a headshot for use with my articles, then my blog, but, almost everyone has a LinkedIn profile these days, and everyone needs a photo there. In today's post, I'll give you some DON'Ts for professional looking photos, and on Friday I'll tell you how to make a good headshot by yourself if you're disinclined to pay someone to do it for you.
In the November 2012 homepage poll, we see that 52% of AUGI members have a LinkedIn profile, 60% use Facebook and 24% use Twitter.
73% of recruiters are checking you out online, even if you don't give them a specific link yourself. You want to ensure you're presenting a professional image when they do find you.
But, I'll just assume we're purely talking LinkedIn, serving as an online resume and a way to stay connected with colleagues, current and past (and potentially, future), though you might use your headshot across a wide variety of sites.
After spending some time on LinkedIn, here are some headshots faux pas that cause me to twitch:

DON'T use a logo or cartoon as your image, that's even worse than having no image at all. Same goes for anything goofy like sideways or upside-down images
DON'T have no image at all, it makes your profile look incomplete and feels impersonal
You're 7x more likely to have your profile viewed from search results, if you have a photo than if you do not
DON'T be a gender-bender. If you've got a gender-neutral name, having a photo with a man and a woman in your shot is probably not going to prevent sexism, it will certainly be awkward and confusing
DON'T have more than one person in your image. This isn't Facebook, no matter how proud you might be of your partner, children, best buddy or pets, a professional site is not the place to show them off. This profile is about *you*, not your spouse, keep that in mind and don't mention them anywhere
DON'T get sloppy on your crop job. The photo is of you and your best bud and you just crop him out, but, we can still see his shoulder. Take a couple of minutes to use a real image editing program to remove any trace of other people
DON'T use a really old profile image. I like gray hair on the fellas, but, I roll my eyes every time I see your headshot from back when your hair was a different color
DON'T use something sexy. I cannot believe I actually have to say this, but, guys... keep your shirts on! And, of course, ladies, come-hither duckface looks are for your OKCupid profile, but not for your resume.
If you want some examples of things to DO, check out some of the images of your favorite authors or LinkedIn connections. Before doing my last headshot, I looked closely at a few respected writers in the industry to see how they presented themselves and tried to emulate their poses and styles
DON'T have a busy background. You need a plain background so that you are clearly the focus. Again, this isn't a family photo album or Facebook, the background should be either a solid color, or a simple stage (like a desk or bookshelf, no trees or anything with a lot of detail... not that you have to shoot in front of a blank wall, just that the final image should not contain them)
DON'T have a panorama, even if it's a blue sky or a white mountain. The focus should be on your face... not a miniscule pixel that vaguely resembles a human
DON'T ignore the aspect ratio. Sizes should be changed by cropping or scaling, not by freehand resizing
DON'T brag on your hobbies. Do you like cars and traveling and sports? That's nice, but, bring it up after you're hired. I think more exotic images or expensive toys could potentially make an employer feel like you are out of their price range or more interested in playing than working
DON'T dress too casually or display logos on your clothing or wear hats, flashy jewelry or sunglasses (or too formal... men *might* be able to get away with using a tux shot, if it's done right, but, no wedding dresses or evening gowns, ladies)

DON'T make it look like a mugshot. Okay! having a straight-on shot under fluorescent office lighting in an unflattering color isn't the *worst* thing you can do, but, I assure you, you can do better. Throw in some angles and use decent light to make a big difference

I'll cover how to do headshots solo, and on the cheap, in my next post
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