A good headshot on LinkedIn is important for your profile. Users with photos receive 21x more views than profiles without, and are 36x more likely to receive messages. A “professional” photo increases those chances even further. But you don’t need to pay a professional photographer to have a “professional” looking photo. We’re going to provide some tips for getting a good photo. The good news is that smart phone cameras are perfectly capable of capturing and editing a high quality photo for your LinkedIn profile.
While you will probably get better results if you have a friend or family member take the photo, you can also achieve good results with a selfie. Either way, here are some considerations:
Look your best: pick out a professional outfit that is aligned with the role and industry you are targeting. Look at the profiles of people with that role/industry and see how they are dressed. IE Bankers are buttoned up with a suit and tie, or blouse and blazer, product managers in tech are probably going to be more casual, think collared shirt, no tie. Take care of your personal grooming, hair (including facial hair for men), makeup, jewelry, etc… Make eye contact with the camera and remember to smile! This is another reason having someone else take your photo will likely yield better results, a friend can make you smile and capture multiple shots in a row to capture that perfect moment, and you will be looking at the lens, not your own image on the screen.
Setting, background, lighting: find a place to take your photo where the background is uncluttered and not distracting. A blank wall is fine, a brick wall can work, so can sky, but trees, or buildings might be more distracting. Ideally, whatever is behind you will be as far behind you as possible. You don’t want to be standing up against a wall DMV/passport style. Natural lighting that is diffused (rather than direct sunlight) and is coming from the side of your subject rather than directly in front or above is going to give you the best results. Artificial light can work, but it to should come from the front/side rather than overhead. For the students I work with at the Foster School of Business, PACCAR and Dempsey Hall both afford some interesting backgrounds and abundant natural light: the dark concrete walls, the slatted wood walls, the PACCAR atrium overlooks, the brick outside, etc…
Camera position and settings: the camera should be at eye level or slightly below. Newer iPhones offer a portrait mode, which you may want to experiment with, it will put the subject in sharper focus and blur the background a bit. If you are using a mirrorless or DSLR camera, an aperture priority mode with the widest (lowest number) aperture will give you the best results. Avoid using a phone or camera mounted flash.
Crop and upload: you should ultimately crop your photo into a square that includes your head and shoulders and a little background all of the way around.