A recent studied indicated that recruiters on LinkedIn spent, on average, 19% of their time looking at your profile image. It was more time, actually, then they spent reviewing your job history. So what are they looking for?
In part, it’s the fascination we all share with photographs: a voyeuristic peek into someone else’s life when they’re not watching. At face value that seems unimportant. But the truth is it’s a big part of whether they remember about you. And they’re looking for clues.
What kind of clues? Do you look honest? Healthy? Engaged? Vibrant? Aware? Confident? Competent? Any one of us can look dishonest, sickly, vacant, unsure, and incompetent in a bad photograph-- so the picture doesn’t really speak to who we are. But for some of those characteristics your profile picture is the only tool the recruiter has at their disposal. And it’s not just employers: it’s business partners and associates.
Clearly, transmitting those positive characteristics is one reason to hire a professional to take your profile picture (though of course a friend might do as well). But it’s not the only reason. Professional work should be self-evident. A professional photo communicates that you value appearance and are committed to your career. Moreover, a professional photographer knows what aspects evoke these characteristics; how to position, light, and set your background. More importantly, they (should) work with you to make your profile picture both individual and reflective of your career.
Here’s what you should expect from a headshot session: an initial consultation to clarify and fine-tune exactly the type of profile image your want to create; a 1 to 1.5 hour session; professional image editing to remove distracting elements, sharpen, and correct color; digital delivery of both high resolution and web-ready files.
One of the things professional photographers understand is that a photograph doesn’t naturally capture a person. It can capture facets of the person with unexpected results (it’s one of the reasons we like to look at ourselves in photographs). What’s more, light and physical elements can obscure important elements. Your eyes may naturally sparkle with intensity and warmth, but the camera may not capture that on its own. A skilled photographer can re-create that sparkle to show who you are in life.