by Tony Taafe

A few weeks ago I was shooting a corporate headshot session for a tech company in Scottsdale, Arizona. They were investing in updating their website and wanted to update their staff headshots to complement their new, modern site.

I got chatting to one of the partners about headshots. This particular company was hiring new staff at the time, "If they don't have a good headshot on LinkedIn, I'm really hesitant about bringing them in for an interview". "And if they don't have a headshot at all, forget about it", the partner told me.

It didn't surprise me to hear that, but her passion was clear to see.

She went on to say that many applicants clearly had old headshots, or LinkedIn profile photos where they just cropped their head out of a regular photo. "If it looks like they don't care about their own public image, how can I be sure they're going to care about my company image if I employ them?".

Now that's not necessarily true, but I can see why she would think that way.

This particular company is very forward thinking. One of those Google-esque companies which has games rooms, daycare for kids, and flex time, all for their staff.

I think they call it Staff Wellbeing, and to be honest, the staff who I photographed, and there was a lot of them, all seemed very happy to be there. 

Now, not every business is going to be like that. Some companies are still more traditional in how they recruit staff. But there's no denying that more and more businesses are doing as much research as possible on potential new employees, and their first step is usually social media, namely, LinkedIn. And it's not about finding out what you look like, It's about seeing how you present yourself.

How you present yourself, let's call it what it is, your personal brand, has a massive influence on how people perceive you in this digital age. 

Why is a headshot so influential? 
Think of it as your first meeting. As we moved into the digital age, it became the norm that for the most part, we now know what a person looks like before physically meeting them.

Before your interview, or client meeting, the other person will most likely have already 'met you', online via your public social media profiles.

Your headshot has to be working for you 24 hrs a day, waiting for somebody to click on your profile, and represent you in a professional manner.

It's without doubt your most important tool in helping to determine somebody's first impression on you. And as we know, first impressions matter.

So should I smile for my headshots? Look Serious? What?

The answer to this is you should neither smile, nor look serious, but at the same time, do both of those things. Although it's not as complicated as it sounds.  If your headshot is primarily for LinkedIn, then it's most likely for business purposes.

A business headshot, or corporate headshot, should in almost every instance, have a mix of confidence, and approachability. It's the perfect mix.

Confidence and approachability is the CEO of headshot expressions.

So smile, of course. You don't want to look like an ass. But lay off the big cheesy grins we see on those 80s throwback headshots. In fact, any type of expression you give should be genuine. Whether a big or small smile, if it's not a real smile, it's going to look fake.

People can spot a fake smile a mile off.

An experienced headshot photographer will get those genuine expressions from you, and actually make you smile.

If you hear your headshot photographer say,  "3,2,1,...Smile", then you should 3,2,1...RUN!

So we've got the approachability, now we need the confidence.

You need to look like you know what you're doing. You've got it together and you're an expert in what you do. There's several ways to achieve this confident look, it can take a little time, because it's not a look  which comes natural to most people when they have a camera pointed at their face.

One way to achieve this is by getting rid of those deer in headlights eyes that are so common in older headshots.

The whites of your eyes have never screamed "I got this".

If you look relaxed, in control, then the people looking at your headshot will know that they can trust you with whatever it is they're seeking.

So in short, your LinkedIn Headshot is very important.

It's the modern day equivalent of a firm handshake, small smile, and a confident look in the eye.

It will most likely be the very first thing a potential employer, client, even employee, sees when they need to research you or your business for any reason.

Make it a great one!

Thanks for reading the post, guys. I really appreciate your time. 

If you'd like to find out more about me or my headshot sessions, click here.

It'd be great to chat and see how I can help you up your headshot game!



Tony taafe