I spend a lot of time on LinkedIn in my day job. While on there, I can't help but notice the pictures people choose to use on their profiles--call it an occupational hazard; my eye is just drawn to their headshots.

Considering LinkedIn is intended to be a professional networking site, the profile pictures should follow suit. That said, many of those profile pictures cause me to shake my head in dismay:

  • Faux pas #1: The selfie. Let's be honest, most selfies are not flattering, and even if they are, they are not professional. Save them for Instagram or Facebook.
  • Faux pas #2: The picture where another person or people have been cropped out. While you may look amazing in this photo from your best friend's wedding or last New Year's Eve, cropping yourself out of a picture leaves much to the imagination--where was this person? who were they with? Very rarely will the mind wander to "That must have been a fabulous work event."
  • Faux pas #3: The default “ghost” image. Like a ghost, your profile might get unnoticed or passed over for a profile that is more visible.

LinkedIn isn’t the only place a professional headshot is a must. If you run your own business, work for a company that features their employees' pictures on their website, are writing a book, are a performer, or want to make the best impression on a dating site, you need a professional headshot. 

But why?

Put a Face with a Name

Having a headshot on your LinkedIn profile, website, marketing materials, acting resume, etc., humanizes the words on the page. Your smiling face gives viewers a sense of who you are and who they would be working with. You become more relatable when someone can see your face.

Make an Instant First Impression

If you want to be seen as a legit professional, you need to look the part. No random photo you like will do. Would you hire a photographer who didn't have a photograph of him or herself on their website or only had a selfie? Whatever you are professional calling, you should have a picture to reflect the professional you are.

Stand Out from the Crowd

A headshot gives you an opportunity to show off your personality. What makes you different than all the other people auditioning for that part? You can infuse a little quirkiness or style into your headshot and still look professional; it could be as simple as a bright-colored shirt or unique background.

Your headshot is a representation of you, so put your best face forward every time you put your professional self out there. Talk to your photographer about location, attire, and all the other little details that make up a good headshot.