A picture is worth a thousand words, and this could not be truer than for a headshot. A good, quality headshot can make or break a LinkedIn profile, which, in turn, can increase or completely nullify your chances of getting hired at your dream job.
And as luck would have it, you don’t have to spend any money to create an excellent headshot, perfectly capable of capturing any recruiter’s eye. It would set your profile aside from all the hundreds of others; they have to look over daily.
That said, there are several things you need to take into account when working on your perfect photo.
The Smartphone Camera
The type of camera you use will play a crucial role in how your headshot will turn out. If in the past, a high-resolution picture meant that the person was someone important, while that’s no longer the case today. A quality photo is an expectation and a basic cost of admission for being taken seriously.
The good part here is that even your average smartphone can take decent photos that can pass the bar, but keep away from webcams since their clarity is still lacking. Several free smartphone apps such as GorillaCam (for iOS) or Open Camera (for Android) provide several features to help.
That said, avoid taking the apparent selfie, which includes that look of an extended arm, twisted shoulder, enlarged forehead and or nose, which are a result of the camera being too close. Ask a friend to take the photo for you, or make use of a tripod. If you don’t have a tripod, you can use various objects around the house such as books to prop your phone into place and use the apps noted above for a timer.
Lighting and Backdrop
Contrary to what some people may say, the best place to take a headshot is indoors, away from direct sunlight and against a solid color backdrop. The hardest part will be to get the lighting just right. It’s best that you stay away from direct sunlight, particularly if it hits your face. It can result in unflattering shadows or can make you squint. Invest in a couple of inexpensive lights to get the best results.
As far as backdrops are concerned, your safest bet is several feet away from a solid-colored wall. If you’re too close, you may get some unwanted shadows behind you. Busy backgrounds, on the other hand, may draw attention from your face. It is a technique that professionals sometimes experiment with, but if you don’t have experience, it’s best to stick with a solid-colored backdrop.
There’s a common adage saying that you should “dress for the job you want, not the job you have.” It is also true when taking a professional-looking headshot. If you’re in a T-shirt or your gym clothes, recruiters will form all sorts of conclusions based solely on your choice of wardrobe.
Some job posts may require some degree of creativity and individuality, but others don’t. The way you dress for your photo shoot will depend on what type of job you are looking to apply. To help you with this decision, ask yourself if you’re going with that same outfit for your first day of work at the new job. It’s also useful to take several headshots, with different outfits, for various positions.
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