It’s said that a picture is worth a thousand words.
That’s especially true if you are looking to re-enter the workforce, and relying on your photo to help make an impression. Research from LinkedIn finds that profiles with a photo are looked at seven times more than those without one. In fact, “adding a professional photo makes you fourteen times more likely to be found on LinkedIn and thirty-six times more likely to receive a message on LinkedIn,’ says Barri Waltcher, co-founder of Mind Your Own Business Moms.
But make no mistake: The kind of photo you select also makes a difference. You’ll want to make sure you have a professional-looking photo not only on your LinkedIn page, but on your personal website or online resume as well when you begin your job search.
Watch What You Wear
Busy prints and graphic patterns might get you noticed at a dinner party, but when it comes to your photo, it’s best to keep it relatively simple. That doesn’t mean bland and boring, however.
“Bold colors are great,” says Anita Stockmans, a career coach who specializes in interview skills. “Avoid stripes and bright patterns. Flashy jewelry is also a no-no as it detracts from a person’s smile and eyes.”
David Kranich, co-founder, Coverd, an on-demand professional photography service, says oversized clothes will appear too voluminous and “exaggerate your size.”
Pay Attention To Hair and Makeup
If you’re comfortable doing your own face, make sure you don’t over-apply. That said, go with a professional stylist if you don’t feel adept with a blush brush, says Kranich.
And though you might be tempted to take your photo with freshly washed hair, don’t.
“Do not shower the night before or morning of,” says Kranich. “You will have considerably less ‘fly-away hairs.’ However if you must shower, do not wash your hair.”
Skip The Coffee And Wine
If the shoot is in the morning, don’t consume too much caffeine beforehand, especially if you get nervous in front of a camera.
“If possible, get a full night’s sleep the night before the shoot and drink plenty of water,” says Kranich. “Avoid alcohol, cigarettes and other substances which can affect your appearance.”
Be At Ease
No, this does not mean pose in your LuLulemons. Rather, ask a skilled friend or family member to take your photo in your home, where you won’t feel self-conscious or silly. Avoid a stiff posture and sit as if you were having a casual conversation.
“If you feel tense, stand up, take a deep breath, shake out your whole body and head, and reset,” says Kranich.
…Or Go Professional
If the line of work you’re pursuing necessitates a formal headshot, find a local professional who can take one for no more than $100 or $200. You may look on local classifieds boards, or contact a nearby university or art school for recommendations.
Professional photographers “will provide you with a digital link formatted for use on LinkedIn and other social media outlets as well as a two-by-two-sized digital photo to use on professional bios and websites,” says Mayra Sacco, an executive coach specializing in finance.
But even pros need a little coaching, says Kranich.
“Rarely does anyone look good on both sides of their face,” says Kranich. “Look in the mirror and determine you best side, or ask others. Keep this in mind during the shoot to see if the photographer is also aware of this. If not, make him or her aware.”
Pay Attention To Your Surroundings
While an indoor shot often imparts gravitas and professionalism, outdoor tableaux can be effective in conveying freshness and a sense of vitality.
“An outdoor photo, assuming the lighting is ok, and the sun does not make you squint, can be nice because foliage literally brings a feeling of life and growth to the photo,” says Gail Berger, Ph.D., and Assistant Professor of Instruction, Northwestern University. “Make sure that it doesn’t look like a day at the beach or a casual garden/picnic photo.”.