I know most of you haven’t given it much thought but if you stay with me for a few minutes I hope I can help you understand just how important this matter really is.
First, let me ask you about your LinkedIn profile. How’s it doing? Is it completed with all your history and accomplishments listed? Are you getting head-hunted out of the blue at least once a month? Does LinkedIn say your profile strength is at an All-star level? That’s awesome! Good for you! Hold up a minute though, there’s one thing LinkedIn’s fancy algorithm just can’t determine and that is just how horrible your headshot really is. All it knows is that you have one. You could have a shot of Homer Simpson up there and it wouldn't care. The truth is it really does matter, a lot.
Having a profile picture on your profile is important but even more important is having a professional headshot. Anyone can grab a picture of themselves from their buddy Larry’s wedding reception, crop it down to just their face and slap it up there. I've seen this over and over and over again. The wedding shot is actually one of the most popular sources of LinkedIn profile pictures. It’s amazing how many I see up there. I've even seen people put up a picture of themselves practically wasted smashing beer cans on their heads (yes, it’s posted below). With that image in your head, ask yourself this question; if you were the owner of a new start-up and you were looking for skilled talented people to add to your company and this guy applied, would you actually shortlist him and arrange an interview?
Would you hire this guy.........for any role?
I'm sure you've seen on the news a short while ago about the news reporter that was verbally assaulted on the air. It’s become known as the “FHITP” scandal. The reporter, who had had enough of that treatment on the daily, took it upon herself to confront the people that made the comment and those in the area that were involved with the prank. One such person embraced the attention but instead of owning up to doing wrong, made it even worse by enthusiastically supporting his friend's actions. All the while the camera was rolling and it captured his spirited opinion. Well, the guy was recognized alright, recognized by his employer and they unceremoniously fired him. Poof, a six-figure job gone. Why? because of his behaviour and how that represented his employer. It was the image that held enough weight for him to lose out.
Why do I mention that story? Well if an employer can weed out undesirables before hiring them in the first place, there are potentially fewer headaches later on. Your headshot speaks volumes about you personally and people base decisions on that initial visual perception. Your profile may talk up how skilled you are in your field of study but your profile picture says a lot about your personality. It says how you present yourself to others and especially, to the employer's customers. Recruiters are doing the same thing. Employment website, TheLadders, who describe themselves as “a comprehensive career resource dedicated to advancing professionals' careers” and who specializes in “helping job seekers and employers connect to fill $100K+ jobs”, recently ran an eye-tracking study and discovered that recruiters and hiring managers spent nearly a fifth of their time, (19 percent) on a LinkedIn profile looking at the profile photo.
OK here’s the quick in and out list of what your profile picture should look like. I’ll put it down to two lists, the simple do's vs don'ts approach.
It’s a short list I know. But trust me there is so much more to it than just what’s listed here. A professional headshot photographer taking your profile picture will be a very smart investment in upping your profile's polish. It’s an investment that you’ll use for at least 5 years.