Whether you’re angling for a promotion or you’re trying to snag a new job, you need to make an awesome first impression. Pre-internet, you were able to make a first impression face-to-face, but that’s not the case today. Like it or not, people form an immediate—and often unconscious—opinion of you based on what they see online. This is why knowing how to take take a picture of yourself, professionally, is super important.
This isn’t just with social media or dating sites, either. It applies to online job boards and platforms like LinkedIn. Before you ever even make it to an interview, chances are good that the hiring manager Googled you and checked you out on LinkedIn.
That’s right—just like you cyber-stalked that hottie at the bar before you actually dialed their digits, businesses do the same to you. I know because I used to be a hiring manager and I Googled every candidate before I offered them an interview.
So if you want to increase your chances of booking interviews, you’ll need to make sure you’ve got a professional-looking corporate headshot.
Why are corporate headshots important?
According to LinkedIn, accounts with a profile picture get 21X more views and 9X more connection requests. Translation: people feel more comfortable when they can see you’re an actual person.
And no, I don’t recommend using the same picture from your Instagram account on your LinkedIn. A corporate headshot is different from your typical social media profile picture.
Corporate headshots generally only show your head and shoulders, and they’re meant to convey competence and professionalism. Plus, your clothes, backgrounds, and makeup need to follow professional norms in this photo or they can work against you.
In an ideal world, I would recommend hiring a pro photographer to take your headshots, but a headshot sesh easily costs $200+. If you’re job-hunting right now, that’s rent money.
But you know what? There’s nothing wrong with taking a DIY corporate headshot. Just follow these 7 tips to snap a winning headshot for $0.
Prep ahead of time
Take a few days to research other people’s headshots and jot down some notes about what you like (and don’t like) about them. Pay close attention to their poses, clothes, facial expressions, and backgrounds. This will help you narrow down what kind of look you want for your own corporate headshot.
You’ll also want to make sure you’re getting lots of sleep and drinking plenty of water leading up to picture day. No one wants tired eyes or dehydrated skin! And try to skip the salt the day before, too. It can make your face look bloated because of water retention, so opt for low-sodium meals if you can.
Put effort into your hair and makeup, but don’t go overboard
Your hair and makeup should be simple and professional. Stick to a style that you’d normally wear during your regular working hours. If you want to rock a new ‘do, make sure you wear it for a few days before you snap a photo. That’ll give you time to get used to styling your new cut.
The industry you work in can also help dictate how you style your hair and makeup. For example, a professional artist has more flexibility than a bank executive when it comes to creative styling. Know your audience!
Dress professionally, but keep it comfortable
It’s important to look polished, but it’s just as important to feel comfortable in your clothes. Stick to what you know and what you enjoy wearing. If you never, ever wear a blazer, don’t run out and buy one just for the sake of this photo.
As a general rule, you want to avoid busy patterns and bold colors. Stick to solid colors and flattering neutrals so they don’t pull attention away from your face. Make sure there aren’t any wrinkles in your shirt, too—you might be surprised at how easily they show up in pictures. If you don’t have an iron, try a few DIYs to de-wrinkle your clothes before you snap your corporate headshot.
Use low-key accessories
Are you starting to see a trend here? 🙂 Just like with hair, makeup, and clothing, simple is best when it comes to accessories. Very minimal jewelry, clean necklines, simple ties—you get the idea. Go with more classic pieces like pearls or studs so you don’t overwhelm the photo with glitz.
If you do choose to wear a necklace, make sure it doesn’t hang too low. You don’t want to risk cropping out the bottom of the necklace, which will leave you with two awkward lines on your chest.
Pose in front of a blank or neutral background
A blank or neutral background works best for corporate headshots because you want the focus to be on you. A plain white wall, a blurred-out office setting, or a clean desk are all great options.
But think about the image you want to convey, too. Are you straight-laced and serious? A solid black background could work. Or are you more casual and laid back? A pic of you in your home office gives a professional yet approachable feel.
If you’re having a hard time finding the right background for your pics, don’t worry! You can use a corporate photo editor like Facetune to easily edit the background after you take your pictures—no Photoshop skills required.
Save the selfies for your Insta
LinkedIn definitely has a more serious feel than other social networks. Selfies aren’t a great choice for your corporate headshot unless you’re really good at making it look like someone else took your photo.
It’s best to have a friend take your pics if you can. This will make the whole process easier, and you’ll quickly be able to get multiple shots and angles. They can also help you out with your poses and make sure your outfit is on point.
If you can’t wrangle any friends into helping you, then a tripod with a timer will work too—it just might take you longer to get the perfect shot.
Try a bunch of different poses
This one may surprise you, but you do actually have some options when it comes to posing for corporate headshots. Some of the more popular options include:
- Sitting with your body at a 45-degree angle and leaning slightly toward the camera. This is one of the more common poses you’ll see.
- Facing forward with your hands on your hips (don’t forget to smile for this one so you don’t look angry!).
- Crossing your arms with a slight smile. This one conveys power and authority, so it’s great for corporate executives and managers.
- Standing facing 90 degrees from the camera, then looking back over the shoulder that’s facing the camera. This pose is a little more candid and casual.
- Sitting while you lean in toward the camera, resting your chin on your hand or fist. This is a great option if you’re self-conscious about having a double chin.
Practice in a mirror first to see what works best for you. You should also check both your left and right sides to see if one is more flattering than the other.
Don’t neglect your posture, either! Sit or stand tall with your shoulders back and relaxed. Imagine how you’d sit if you were in an interview with a potential employer and try to hold that position.
Master the DIY corporate headshot
Sure, corporate headshots are more serious than your typical selfie, but that doesn’t mean you have to be serious. The purpose of a headshot is to show hiring managers how you look in real life. Try to relax and have fun with your DIY photoshoot: you’ll take better photos when you’re having fun!
Once you’re done with your corporate photoshoot, you can use Facetune to perfect your pics. Blur the background, eliminate blemishes, and adjust the lighting for the perfect look. You can even adjust the lighting to get a gorgeous, professional look that will score you more interviews in no time.