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What it takes to get a great professional profile picture

Your professional profile picture is a key element of your online presence. In fact, research shows that on a business networking site like LinkedIn, just having a picture makes it 14 times more likely that others will view your profile. 

However, a professional picture is not supposed to look like a mugshot nor a zany selfie. Your goal is to appear approachable, personable, and trustworthy. Think of it as the introductory “handshake and smile” you’d start an interview with. That’s the vibe you want to give off. 

And since LinkedIn and other online platforms have become the new version of a first impression, you want your photo to be great. However, if you don’t have the budget for an expensive photoshoot, the camera on your smartphone will do the trick. Just follow these 5 tips to help you take a strong professional profile picture and let Heroic Headshots do the rest. 

1. Know Your Audience

As we’ve noted, your audience for a professional profile picture is different than your social media or dating profile. However, we want you to dig a bit deeper than that! Visualize your ideal career trajectory. Are you looking for a new job, or a promotion within your company? Are you looking to land a big client? 

Start with your end goal. Then work back to figure out what kind of people fit the audience that would get you there. For example, a recruiter, a bigwig at your company, etc. With that in mind, jot down a few words that you’d want to convey to this audience. Do you want to seem bold and decisive? Trustworthy and friendly? Creative and edgy?

Again, you might find it helpful to envision what an initial meeting with your audience might look like. What impression would you hope to make? What aspects of your personality and experience will make the best impact? Have these details in mind as you take and select your professional profile picture to help you stay focused so you make the best choice.

2. Plan Out Your Professional Profile Picture

You wouldn’t just walk into an interview without prepping, so the same goes for taking your professional profile picture. Take some time to plan it out. With your audience in mind, think about what sort of outfit, styling, and pose will work best. While you may dress more formally for an actual interview, if you’re in a more casual or creative industry, your photo outfit should reflect that. Not all professional profile pictures need to be taken in a suit! 

However, “casual and creative” does NOT mean sloppy. You still want your hair to be neatly styled, if you wear makeup you want to keep it professional, and your outfit should be clean and wrinkle-free. 

Since you’ll be taking your photo on your cellphone, light is the most important factor. Great lighting will make your photo look professional and will result in a higher resolution image. This will make editing it that much easier for the world-class retouching team at Heroic Headshots. 

So look around your house for great natural lighting sources (windows or glass doors) and take note of which times of day produce the best soft lighting. Plan to take your photos at that time! You’ll also want to make sure your background isn’t too busy so it can easily be edited out. 

3. Practice Makes Perfect

Have you ever walked out of an interview and thought of the perfect answer to a question you’d already answered? Or have you gone through a whole photoshoot only to see the proofs and realize you were making a disgruntled face when you thought you looked calm and pleasant? When you take your own professional profile picture you don’t have to worry about that!

Take some time to practice your facial expression and poses. These are more important than you may realize! Use a mirror to help you find your best angles. If you’re taking your photo yourself, try out different heights for where you will prop up your phone and set a timer. If a friend is helping you out, they should try holding your phone at different heights to see what’s most flattering. 

Remember, lighting is important, so take some practice snaps in different settings. You want natural light, but you don’t want to be squinting or have unnatural-looking shadows across your face. 

4. Have Some Fun

A huge benefit to taking your own photo is that you can have some fun with the process! Loosen up your face by taking a few photos making silly faces before you take a deep breath and really pose. Have your friend tell you a corny joke to elicit a real smile (you can’t fake those Duchenne smiles!).

Since you aren’t working with a professional photographer, you won’t need to feel embarrassed or like you’re wasting their time. Try different poses, even if they feel awkward or funny. They might look great in a photo! The more relaxed and natural you are, the better your photos will turn out. Then you’ll just have to pick your favorite of the bunch!

5. Trust A Professional Editor

Once you’ve selected the photo you want to use for your professional profile picture, it’s time to perfect it. If you haven’t already, head over to Heroic Headshots and make your purchase. Then upload your photo, choose a background, and wait. We will email your professionally retouched image to you within three business days!

Our editing team will give you a clean background and enhance your photo. This way, even though you took it yourself, your photo will have a professional polish to it. No one needs to know you didn’t spend a fortune on your profile picture photo!

Get started on your professional profile picture

Choosing the right professional profile picture is key to enhancing your image online. And there’s no time like the present to get started! Every day you wait can be another missed opportunity. So head over to Heroic Headshots and get started on your new photo today! You’ll be making a great decision for your career and your future.