• Hillary Hufford-Tucker

How to Create a Professional Profile Headshot

Are you putting off updating your LinkedIn headshot? I understand. Just because it’s the first thing people see when they access your profile doesn’t make it your top priority - but it should be.

You can choose to pay a professional or take the photo yourself. Regardless, the list below provides guidelines to get the most out of that little circle on your profile page.

Before beginning, take a moment to consider what you wish to convey with your photo. A smile is an ideal introduction to a recruiter or employer and reflects your approachability and confidence. Similarly, the choice of wardrobe, body position, background, and lighting send a message about your professional style.

It’s essential only to use photos taken explicitly for a headshot. As meaningful as some pictures might be to you personally, some may imply a lack of business focus. Once you decide how you’ll express your brand through your headshot, use the following to help craft your final choice:

Be sure your face takes up only 60 to 70 percent of the frame; don’t get too close

  • Take multiple shots in a variety of camera angles and levels

  • In most cases, direct eye contact is best for headshots

  • Sample various poses for comfortable body language that makes you seem approachable

  • Natural smiles are the best, so try several – big and little – to find the most appealing look

  • Suits aren’t a must but do dress in industry-appropriate attire that’s not too bright or busy

  • Consider the color combination with LinkedIn’s background banner

  • For LinkedIn, size the photo to a square 400 x 400 pixels

  • Be mindful of the lighting and any strange shadows created in different settings

  • Don’t use a group picture that crops others out of the shot

  • Be careful of recent hair coloring as it tends to be brighter in the first days after treatment

  • Makeup can be beneficial, provided you still look the way you would on a typical workday

  • Keep jewelry simple and skip seasonal clothing like tank tops

Don’t put off updating your headshot out of unnecessary anxiety or money worries. Many of my clients have created excellent headshots on their own, and so can you. If you choose a professional photographer or do-it-yourself, the key is to follow the adage, “Less is More.”


As a certified career coach, Hillary guides extraordinary people and their personal brands. She's a career solutionista that helps clients discover their unique worth to find new employment, pivot industries, or move toward cause-oriented work. When Hillary's not busy coaching amazing people, she rides bikes, learns about wine, cooks for friends, and travels globally with her family. Find out more and sign up for her newsletter at www.careersolutionista.com.

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