When it comes to creating the perfect profile picture that a potential employer might see, professionalism is everything. Before you upload a head shot to your public Facebook page or personal site, consider these key tips. (Remember, these photos show up in search results.)
A proper headshot will still show at least some of your upper body, so keep that in mind when selecting a top. For men: A simple collared shirt, tie and suit jacket. For women, a solid blouse and minimal, tasteful jewelry.
What’s behind you can be distracting to viewers. Unless you’re applying for a job with the Forestry Service, use an indoor backdrop—preferably a plain (but not solid white) wall. Don’t take a photo in your kitchen or in front of another busy backdrop, like a bookshelf or a painting or poster on the wall. If you’re set on shooting outside, a background of uninterrupted sky can look appealing: Try shooting on the roof of a nearby building.
No matter where you shoot, make sure the light source is not behind your head, which will result in your face appearing in shadow. Light the subject (yourself) with the light source in front and to the side of your face. This can be a sunny window or a lamp. Experiment with distance to find the light level that works best. Skip the flash unless absolutely necessary.
When composing your picture, a little upper body in the shot helps keep you from looking like a disembodied head—and lets you show off a bit of that suit you put on.
Don’t stare straight into the lens when shooting. While you can experiment with head-on photos, pictures taken at a slight angle to your face tend to be more flattering. Smile confidently, but not too broadly.
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