We all know that people make split second judgments (4 seconds or less). With CVs and recruitment moving more and more to online platforms like LinkedIn, your photo is one of the things that really matters. It's a door opener, a trust and credibility builder, and has the potential to add 10s of 1000s of $$ onto your earnings over the course of your career.
The flip side is also true. A bad photo keeps you missing out time and time again, for opportunities that you never even got to hear about. And never will.
There's an old saying "dress for the job you want, not the job you have". The same goes for your professional headshot. Your photo should position you for the role of your dreams, and not be something you were lucky to cut out from the previous year's Xmas party snaps.
My US Celebrity Photoshoot
Four years ago I had my first professional photoshoot done. I was in the USA attending a speaker training week with Michael Port and he had brought a celebrity speaker photographer onsite for us to take advantage of. It was an eye opening experience to say the least! David (photographer) was hilarious with his "yeah baby, work it" comments bouncing off the walls as we posed and draped uncomfortably (we had been warned). But the results were phenomenal and we all felt a million bucks! In fact, I'm still using the shots he took then, and would do it again in a heartbeat if I got the chance.
I know many of my clients still feel uncomfortable with this idea. That it's somehow big-noting yourself at worst and unnecessary at best. So to help feel more comfortable and to make the most of your next photoshoot, here are my nine tips for executive women and busy experts with big, hairy, audacious career goals.
Nine Nifty Notes for Preparing for a Successful Photoshoot!
1. Think “successful leader” and “future personal brand” in your industry as you prepare - the role you want, not the role you have. If you're aiming for a leadership role in a mining company, wear a suit, not the fluro. If you're aiming for a leadership role in education, dress yourself appropriately again. Ask yourself "What do the leaders in my industry typically wear on a good day?"
2. Bring a change of jacket (or have a top which you could wear with a jacket or without) so you an get advice (and perspective) about what works best. This also means you can have two different looks in your allotted time slot. Head and shoulders is all that's required for LinkedIn.
3. Don't be afraid of wearing colour - avoid all black and charcoal gray is definitely out for most women. Note my own photo has a black jacket but I have a white top underneath for a bit of a highlight. If I had my shoot again (and I will) I'll definitely be adding some colour or highlights.
4. Show your throat - don't wear a high neckline or collar. According to research this signifies trust. I guess the exception to the rule here would be if you were interviewing for a ski resort where the turtle neck is ubiquitous with style.
5. Aim for a V neckline shape - so if you are wearing a round/square top, pop a structured jacket over the top. The current shape of the LinkedIn photo window doesn't flatter the round neckline much, plus the stereotypes around leadership lend themselves to a more V shaped neckline.
6. Blend the feminine with the masculine - a structured masculine business shirt is also not recommended for most women pitching into leadership - blend the masculine with the feminine (structure & flow/yin & yang).
7. Accessorise with your role (and stereotypes) in mind - a little jewellery is perfect but nothing too dominating. The focus is on you, your leadership cred and building connection.
8. KISS - Steer clear of too much patterning or clutter. It can be distracting. It's you we want to get to know.
9. Makeup is highly recommended - and dress your hair before you go. Although, obviously you can use the facilities onsite if you need. Don't forget to ask the photographer to photoshop your pick of the images. Blemishes, spots, flyaway hair etc can all be managed for a price. If the celebrities do it, why can't you?
Bonus tip #10 - Be a poser - Angle yourself so your shoulders are on a diagonal, you are looking back at the camera and smiling. Smiling is great, likability is important. Don't be a afraid to try a range of poses. The pose that felt the most awkward and uncomfortable for me, was the one I ended up liking the best. It's not stupid. It's not egotistical. Everyone is a different shape and we all have different goals, so different poses suit different people.
My personal favourite is the arm folded/crossed. It works for me and has worked for a few of my clients.
Check out Helen and Kathryn in their before and after shots. Phenomenal. (Well done to both!)
Here are a couple of great examples for your to check out on LinkedIn.
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