“A successful headshot is not about your looks.”

If it’s related to your career advancement, LinkedIn is the place you need to be seen. And to literally be seen you need to have a great headshot. One that stands out from the crowd and tells people that you are the confident and competent professional they need to connect with.

But how often do you see a great headshot on LinkedIn? Rarely. Most people’s headshots bear a fairly decent resemblance to them. But they don’t have that “pop” or “spark” that grabs the attention of potential employers or clients. Why? Bad lighting, lack of focus, poor composition, and a number of other maladies providing us with a sea of subpar headshots created mostly by friends and relatives. And that’s too bad because people everywhere are losing incredible opportunities because they don’t stand out from the pack.

Why don’t most people get professional headshots?

In my years of experience the real reason people won’t get a professional headshot is fear. Fear that they’re not good looking enough. Fear they look too old. Fear about looking overweight. Or fear about a facial “abnormality” only they have ever noticed.  

What we have to understand is that a successful headshot is not about your looks. It’s all about showing your unique personality and self confidence in a professionally created image. That’s it! People want to see the real you. The person your friends, family, and business associates see and value everyday. Nobody else on this planet can offer what your unique mix of skills and attitude can provide. So don’t shy away from the camera. Embrace it! It’s your opportunity to shine as the competent professional and person you really are in the best possible conditions. That is the kind of headshot that will get you noticed before everyone else.

Five Easy Secrets to a Great Headshot

Provided you’re in the hands of a capable photographer, getting a great headshot is not that difficult. Here are five simple tips you should follow that will have your headshot standing out from the pack.

1.Dress like it’s the first day at your dream job. In other words, dress to impress. Make sure your clothing is wrinkle free, in style, doesn’t have any large or distracting patterns, and is complimentary to your body type. Nothing too tight and nothing too baggy.

Headshot of young professional

 2. Wear Industry Appropriate Clothing. To a certain extent, you’ve got to play the part. If you’re in the financial industry people will feel more comfortable seeing you dressed more conservatively; men in a suit and tie, women with a nice top. But if you’re an outdoor guide you might look out of place in that same level of dress. Your potential clients will want to see you in more active wear. Some professions allow for a little more latitude. For example, if you’re in the medical field scrubs can be an acceptable alternative to traditional business attire.

Headshot of doctor in scrubs


3. Stay away from distracting backgrounds. Remember, you need to be the star of your photo. We all love the Grand Canyon, the Eiffel Tower, and the Pyramids. But you need to keep in mind LinkedIn is a site to help you in your professional endeavors, not promote tourism. (Unless you’re in the travel industry.) Stay with unobtrusive backgrounds. If your selected background has a lot of detail, make sure it’s out of focus. 

Headshot of young professional woman

4. Keep it bright. The human eye is naturally attracted to bright areas first. That doesn’t mean you have to have a bright background, but it does mean your face needs to be well lit, especially your eyes. 

Headshot of professional woman

5. Invest in a professional photographer. Let me ask you this: Would you attempt to train a lion based on having taught your dog how to sit? I know, that’s extreme. But the point is your best chances of having a successful and effective headshot lie in hiring a professional. Having a friend use their phone to create your headshot will save you money in the short term. But in the long run you may be missing some key opportunities because you just don’t look professional

One helluva nice professional photographer!

One helluva nice professional photographer!

How Much Should You Invest In Headshots?

Probably less than what you paid for the clothing you’ll be wearing in your session. But keep in mind, you get what you pay for. You can have a headshot created for as little as $50 or as much as $800. At the lower end, you’re taking a real chance. These are either new photographers or aren’t priced to put the time and effort into creating a an effective headshot. The upper end of this range is geared mostly towards models and performers who need more time to create very specific looks. So the sweet spot is in the $200 to $400 range. For that investment you should be able to get an amazing headshot that can also be used for any of your other business collateral. I think that’s a very reasonable investment in your career.

How often do I need new headshots?

You should expect your headshot to last two to three years. But if at any time you significantly change your look – growing or shaving a beard or going from long hair to a bob cut – you’d be best off updating your headshot to reflect your current look. 

For more information and tips on how to look great in your headshots download my free guide.