Kalispell Headshots, Kalispell Montana professional photographer, Wayne Murphy.

5 Profile Picture Mistakes Keeping You From Your Next Job

It’s time to scrap that awkward college photo

selfie dont do it.jpg

Whether it’s LinkedIn, Facebook, or Instagram, recruiters are looking you up to put a face to your resume. You need a professional photo to best market yourself online. It humanizes you, and differentiates your real profile from Internet bots. To help you get that corner office, we reached out to Peter Hurley, a New York City-based photographer who actually wrote the book on professional photos, called The Headshot. Below are the five mistakes keeping you from your next gig.
(If you need help later on deciding what to wear at that great new job, here’s some inspiration.) 

1. You Don’t Have a Good Photo

Your profile picture is the cornerstone of your personal brand, Hurley says. If you don’t have a picture on, say, your LinkedIn page, you can bet HR is Google Image searching for one. Your fraternity involvement on your resume is great. Having that sloppy photo from the alumni tailgate represent you? Not so much.

2. You’re Wearing the Wrong Clothing

If you don’t wear a tie to work, don’t wear one in your photo. Keep your clothing simple—no fluorescent, zigzag sweaters—and in line with your everyday style. Most portrait photographers will let you bring multiple outfits, so you can find what really works for you while shooting.

3. Your Expression Is Off

The most common mistake in these: the expression. An ear-splitting grin will make you look fake and overeager. An ‘out-to-lunch’ blank stare is just as bad. Who wants to hire the guy with no personality? 
Skip the poses, and stick to a slight smile. Corporate guys can still strike a serious face, but adding just a hint of a grin will make you seem more welcoming and approachable.

4. Your Photo is Old as the Polaroid Camera

Profile pictures do not age like fine wine—just because you took a great shot back in 2007 doesn’t mean people will look past your highlights and popped collar. (Although you can get better looking with age—here’s how.) 
Hurley recommends updating it at least every two years, and after every time you majorly change your appearance. A stale picture can suggest you’re behind the times—a red flag in an innovation-heavy market.

5. Your Photo Has Poor Lighting Or a Bad Background

You want people to look at you—not whatever is going on behind you. Find a professional photographer whose work you like, and ask them for a solid background.
It’s important that this is professional, too. It’s great that your buddy has a cool Nikon, and offered to shoot your photo for free. But chances are, your friend doesn’t have the proper lighting equipment to prevent dark under-eye circles and sullen skin. Keep that photo for mom—and leave this one to the pros.




What to wear for a headshot?

Suzanne McKenzie wrote a fabulous article over at about what clothes look best in photographs. Her article is a really great quick read so check it out here. Here is Suzanne's list of 7 recommendations that I 100% agree with and can be seen in almost all of my photography work. While this article was written for women all of this pretty much applies to men as well. 


"It’s no secret that zany patterns can be, ahem, less than flattering to even the most svelte figures. But in photos? This effect is even more exaggerated. Stick with solids to make sure that the camera captures your best self."


"That top covered in tropical bird print may look chic on the hanger, but once someone snaps a picture of you wearing it, we promise you’ll be singing a different tune. Steer clear of any print that’s busy or cutesy — they’ll just end up distracting from your face and making you look wider than you actually are. Tried-and-true patterns like plaid and stripes (stick with vertical, for obvious reasons) are sure to snazz up your look."


"Repeat after us: No one except for off-duty runway models can make oversized muumuus into a fashion statement. Sorry, but it’s true. The same idea applies to dressing for pics: Even if that billowy denim top looks edgy IRL, it’s just going to end up looking meh on camera. And the other end of the spectrum isn’t much better. Bodycon dresses and skintight tops leave nothing to the imagination as soon as that flash goes off. Embrace a happy medium with slim-cut pieces that actually fit you."


"While you probably (read: definitely) look gorgeous when you wear bright colors IRL, we promise that wearing darker colors will make you look better in pictures. Why? Dark fabrics smooth out your figure and are WAY less likely to get distorted by that pesky flash. Win and win!"


"Choosing the right neckline for your body type is just as important as choosing a silhouette, particularly when it comes to looking killer in pics. V-shaped necklines and scoop necks look good on pretty much everyone, so you can’t go wrong with those. Looking to minimize your bust? Opt for a square neckline. Strapless necklines have a tendency to emphasize broad shoulders, so only go for this look if you’re comfortable with drawing attention to your décolletage."


"While we love a good fashion risk (crop top + choker = yes, please!), we also have to admit that sticking to classic pieces for photos is always the best idea. Choosing timeless looks will help you come off as poised and elegant, not to mention that it’ll ensure you won’t run into any wardrobe regret down the line."


"We’ve all seen enough red carpet coverage to know better: Don’t wear see-through pieces in pictures unless wardrobe malfunction is the look you’re going for. Avoid sheer materials even if you have the proper undergarments — and even if your outfit only looks sheer in certain lights. You’re just going to have to trust us on this one."


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Hey, what happened to the top of my head?



To convey your personality, your headshot is all about your looks and your expression - i.e. your headshot is (should be) completely focused on your face. ...which is why I leave some of your hair (top of your head) out in my headshots.

Most often, professional headshots are used in a fairly small format (LinkedIn, Facebook, top of the corner of a resume, etc.) which leaves little room to actually show your expression and hence personality - furthermore, most of the time the headshot is viewed on a small-format screen (phone, tablet, etc.) which reduces the size your headshot (expression) even more.

So, in order to have enough room to actually show your personality in the image, something has to go - and since the information below your chin (what you're wearing) is more important than your hair, I crop the top of your hair out. Not a lot of it - but just enough to make the eyes sit almost directly on the upper third line of the image. Having your eyes placed here in the headshot draws immediate attention to them and - since most of your expression comes from your eyes - this strengthens the look of you and your personality.