It's that time of year - updating your resume/LinkedIn headshot

With the new year approaching many people are reconsidering their current job situation and beginning to explore new opportunities. This often involves updating their resume, LinkedIn profile, and beginning to explore the job market. In today’s increasingly visual world, it also makes sense to revisit your headshot or portrait on LinkedIn if it isn’t very recent.

Here are some things to consider when you’re updating your headshot:

Clothing:

First impressions are critical – what is the impression you want to convey about you with your photograph? The answer will largely depend on your target audience and what their expectations are. For example, if you’re software developer looking to apply to a young, fast paced startup that is likely a casual environment, having a headshot in a suit and tie is probably not going to resonate with the hiring manager. Conversely, if you’re applying to a law firm posting a picture of you in your bathing suit and sunglasses with beer in hand is probably not going to get you an interview either.

The overall “look” of the photograph:

Lighting and background also play a role in the image you’re conveying – for example, certain lighting scenarios can look very staged or commercial and may not be appropriate for positions working with people who are coming to you for help/advice, such as in medicine, social work, etc.. On the other hand, flat, even lighting can look unnatural, and give you a flat, not very interesting look.

If you’re an aspiring actor or performer, it’s important to think about what types of roles are you looking for? Posting a dramatic, high contrast, black and white portrait for a lead comedy role probably won’t get you an invitation to audition.

Your expression/pose:

Subtle differences in head and neck positioning, eyebrows, eyes, shoulders, etc.. all play a significant role in how your image comes across to the viewer. Lean too far forward and it may look too aggressive – lean too far back, and you look unapproachable. How masculine or feminine do you want to look?

Finally, some employers will not only look at your profile on LinkedIn, they’ll search your Facebook page as well – you may want to have 2 different profile shots, one more business-like for LinkedIn, the other more casual for Facebook. Just keep in mind that whatever you post will create an impression on the viewer.