Why You And Your Company Need Updated Headshots

A current, professional headshot is crucial for a strong impression and brand alignment, ensuring authenticity and trustworthiness in your online and in-person presence.

When you come across a new LinkedIn profile, what catches your eye first?

It’s not the person’s education or even experience. It’s not their “About” section. It is their headshot—the picture at the top of their profile, introducing their face to the world. This is prime real estate: Because the headshot is so prominently featured at the top of LinkedIn, it needs to make a strong impression. When it comes to you, that is the first takeaway.

Knowing that, it is shocking how many people use outdated headshots. Some headshots are from a decade ago (or more). And, even if they’re updated, too many headshots look unprofessional, more fitting for a Facebook page than a LinkedIn profile. Others look too “done up” in a way that seems fake.

I was recently at a business event, and one of the panelists had a headshot that seemed to be 20 to 30 years old. Two or three decades!

A stale headshot not only distracts others, since the real-life version of you looks so different, but it also can lead to distrust. You don’t look like people thought you would look, so they may begin questioning, “Why?”

This applies not only to people with old headshots, but also to those who have either gained or lost weight, among other changes to their overall look. You want your picture to match you in real life. Otherwise, people may suspect that you’re purposely hiding something or trying to deceive the public.

Think about it: If someone looks much, much better in their headshot than in real life, doesn’t that set off alarm bells?

Your Headshot Should Show Your True Self

When headshots are done well, they speak to your authenticity—they are true to you. They demonstrate that you care about your image, but not in a fake or inauthentic way. When people see and meet you in person, there should be no shock factor, like there was at my recent business event.

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Here are a few best practices:

• Hire a local photographer near you, consulting reviews from past customers who are satisfied. It should be easy to find a professional with the right equipment, without it costing an arm and a leg.

• Figure out a professional setting for your batch of headshots. It may be your home office, your conference room or another formal environment. If that’s not possible, you can always make an informal environment look more formal with a professional backdrop, leaning on your photographer’s expertise.

• Take a lot of pictures. Don’t just rely on two or three. Your photographer should give you an entire batch with a wide range of options—different lighting, different poses and more. If you have 20 or 30 pictures to review, you are more likely to find one that really speaks to you.

Your Headshot Reflects Your Brand

Remember: Your headshot will end up being part of your brand. It should also align with the brand that you have established already. For example, if your website and business card lean into a modern, blue theme, the backdrop of your headshot should go with that same color palette. If your brand is fun and quirky, you can portray it in an image that isn’t too stern or solemn.

It depends on your industry. A more traditional industry, such as law, will require a more formal headshot that demonstrates professionalism without the fun and quirkiness. In my industry, public relations, there are many different kinds of practitioners, so you need to be honest with yourself. Someone who writes for a living will have a different image than someone who handles business development for a PR agency.

If you run a PR agency or another company, it is worth considering standardized headshots, where all of your employees adopt the same style. This will show that your entire team sings from the same hymn sheet—their brand is your brand. Brand alignment is key so people easily recognize your company on LinkedIn and other platforms.

Be honest with your headshot. Be authentic to the outside world. And please, stay up to date.


This article originally appeared on the Forbes Agency Council CommunityVoice in March 2024.


FAQs

Why is a headshot important for a LinkedIn profile?
Your headshot is the first thing people notice on your LinkedIn profile, making it crucial for creating a strong initial impression.

What are the common issues with outdated headshots?
Outdated headshots can cause distraction and distrust because people may not recognize or trust the real-life version of you if it differs significantly from your photo.

How can you ensure your headshot looks professional?
Hire a local photographer with good reviews, choose a professional setting, and take multiple photos to find the best one that represents you authentically.

What should your headshot reflect about you?
Your headshot should reflect your true self and align with your personal or professional brand, whether it’s formal, fun or quirky.

Why is brand alignment important in headshots for company profiles?
Standardized headshots that align with your company’s brand help in creating a cohesive and recognizable image for your team on LinkedIn and other platforms.

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