Is Your Selfie Sabotaging Your LinkedIn Profile?

3 Reasons to Use a Professional Headshot for Your LinkedIn Profile Pic

LinkedIn is a social media platform that caters to professionals. It’s essentially a 24/7 digital networking event that can land you a new client or even a whole new career. While LinkedIn is a social media platform, it’s more business-oriented than other channels and should be treated as such. This means a low-quality or unprofessional selfie for profile picture is a no-no.  

Think of it this way, you (hopefully) wouldn’t show up to a job interview in your favorite band t-shirt with your college bestie in tow, so why would you post a profile picture on LinkedIn that depicts something similar? If you’re using a selfie (or low quality, unprofessional headshot) on LinkedIn, you are sabotaging your personal brand. Here are 3 reasons you should opt for a professional headshot for your LinkedIn profile picture.

First, before we go any further, let’s get this out of the way: You must have a LinkedIn profile picture. 

Research shows that simply by having a picture, your profile is 14 times more likely to be viewed. Without a photo, your profile could be mistaken for spam (a fake account), or you could be perceived as not really knowing how to use LinkedIn, which depending on your industry, could be very bad. No recruiter wants to hire a digital marketing specialist that doesn’t know how to use a major social media platform! In addition, LinkedIn profiles that are missing pictures are considered “incomplete,” and may not rank as highly in search results. 

Now that we’ve established that you have to have a LinkedIn profile picture, let’s discuss why you should opt to use a professional headshot. 

#1 - You aren’t as good a photographer as you think you are. 

While a selfie (or photo taken by a friend) may seem like a quick, easy, and affordable way to flesh out your LinkedIn profile, it probably isn’t in your best interest. Frankly, the end result probably won’t be on par with a professional headshot because believe it or not, photography is a skill. It takes knowledge, practice, experience, and the right equipment. 

Thanks to smartphones, most of us are walking around with cameras all the time, and that’s got everyone thinking they’re a decent (or even an incredible) photographer. This belief stems from our tendency as human beings to overestimate our abilities. We do this with everything, from our job skills to everyday tasks like driving. (For example, according to an Association for Psychology Science report, “If you ask someone to rate their driving skills on a one to 10 scale, there’s a good chance they’ll give themselves an above-average rating like a 7.”) Be honest now, might you be overestimating your photography skills? 

If you don’t have any training or experience in the field of photography and truly want to make a good impression on LinkedIn, opt for a professional headshot.

Keep in mind that you only have one chance to make a first impression. Yes, it sounds cliche, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t true, and research shows that first impressions really are important. For example, a study published in Social Psychological and Personality Science found that a first impression formed from a photograph is likely to stick… even after meeting the person face-to-face. 

If you’re on LinkedIn, the impression you most likely want to make is that you’re a professional and capable person. You want people to know that you’re good at your job, you’ve mastered industry skills, and can be trusted to take care of business. A professional headshot has far more chance of getting all the technical details right and hammering that impression home than a selfie taken with your iPhone. 

What technical details? Well, that ties into reason #2 to use a professional headshot on your LinkedIn profile….

#2 - A professional headshot may save you time. 

Again, a selfie seems like a quick option. After all, on the surface, what seems faster: Snapping a quick picture with your iPhone or driving across town for a photo shoot? However, appearances can be deceiving. 

Unarguably, just your run-of-the-mill selfie will be quicker, but if you’re trying to take a good selfie you’re going to need to do a few extra things including: 

  • Dress professionally (at least from the waist up), which includes hair, makeup, and jewelry. 
  • Find an appropriate background. Some background should be visible in your LinkedIn profile picture because a picture that is too zoomed in on the subject’s face can seem odd. 
  • Figure out lighting. Indoor lighting can often be too dim or too harsh. Natural lighting can work well but can be tricky to do with an appropriate background. 

The list doesn’t end there. Getting everything in place for your selfie or photo shoot with a friend takes time and effort. If you opt for a professional headshot, you’ll only be responsible for your appearance. The photographer will take care of the background, lighting, etc. 

Plus, a photographer who specializes in business headshots will be able to offer you tips on orientation, facial expressions, posing, and more to get the best possible profile picture. All in all, this can save you time and produce a far superior product than trying to go it alone or with a friend who may not be an impartial judge. 

#3 - Sometimes you have to spend money to make money. 

Depending on where you are in your career, shelling out money for a professional headshot may seem like an unnecessary expense. That’s a legitimate concern, and you shouldn’t be racking up high interest credit card debt to make your LinkedIn profile better. However, if you have the money or if you could cut some other luxury expenses (bye, bye Starbucks) temporarily, a professional headshot could open new doors for you and even make you money down the road. 

As mentioned above, the first impression someone forms of you from a photograph can carry over once they meet you face-to-face. Understanding this can be vital if you’re trying to reach new clients or customers or find a new job. You want potential business associates and recruiters to immediately think that you’re a go-getter who is not only approachable and pleasant to be around but good at what they do. 

In addition, while just having a LinkedIn profile picture makes your profile more likely to be viewed, having a professional headshot may further increase your chances of garnering traffic. When someone executes a search on LinkedIn, the results don’t provide a ton of information. They get a list of profiles that include: 
  • The profile picture
  • Name
  • Profile headline 
  • Location
  • The individual’s current job title

That’s it. That means all of those components must entice someone to learn more including your profile picture. If even one element is not pulling its weight, profile views may be negatively impacted. 

While prices will vary based on location and the photographer you choose, expect to pay at least $150 for a professional headshot. If you opt for a selfie or have a friend snap a quick photo, you may not pay anything out of pocket, but you also may not accomplish your LinkedIn goals. 

If your concerned about the price of professional headshots, explore the following: 

  1. See if you can get your company to foot some of the cost. This will be an easier sell if you’re in a public facing role such as sales or public relations. Talk to your boss and explain the benefits of updating your LinkedIn profile. 
  2. Write it off. A professional headshot used in a business capacity is a business expense. You can write it off on your taxes. 
  3. Ask about group discounts. This isn’t about bargaining. You aren’t trying to talk a photographer into undervaluing his or her skills. However, you may be able to work out a mutually beneficial arrangement where you get a cheaper professional headshot and the photographer gets more business. For example, ask about group discounts. What if you bring in 3-5 people back-to-back for headshots? 

Look, having professional headshots isn’t going to make you a millionaire overnight. It’s not a get-rich-quick-scheme. However, if you’re serious about your career and ensuring your LinkedIn profile reaches its full potential, professional headshots are a good investment. 

Bonus: You can use them in other places! Your professional headshots can be used on other social media channels, your personal or company website, and just about anywhere else. This allows you to be consistent in your personal branding and get a little more bang for your buck. 

One last word of advice, when considering a photographer, always do your homework. Read reviews, ask for referrals from friends and colleagues, look at portfolios, and ask questions.

Professional headshots do cost money up front but they’re an investment that will enable you to take your LinkedIn profile to the next level, driving more traffic to your personal brand and opening new doors for your current or future career. So, what are you waiting for? Stop sabotaging yourself with selfies… it’s time to go pro!