On the very first episode of The Link Up with Latesha, our incredible host Latesha Byrd, founder of Byrd Career Consulting, lets us know that selfies are not headshots, and she graciously shares a few tips that help take a great one.
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Latesha: What’s up, y’all? Welcome to The Link Up with Latesha. I am your host, Latesha Byrd, and I’m here to help you find your calling, clarity, and confidence to level up professionally for your career, and today we’re talking about why selfies are not headshots. I tweeted about this recently, and my timeline was literally blowing up with DMs and mentions about it. Now, the tweet says, verbatim, “Selfies are not headshots. Now, repeat after me. Selfies. Are Not. Headshots. Now let’s say it all together. Selfies are not headshots.” When I tweeted it, honestly I was just sick and tired of seeing selfies as headshots over and over and over again. It was funny, but all jokes aside, it has to stop. As a career coach and a former recruiter, I spend a lot of time on LinkedIn, and we’ve all seen this time and time again where someone’s profile picture is just downright weak sauce. It’s not professional. It just doesn’t work. It’s bad. Now, specifically, talking about LinkedIn, your profile picture is the first thing people will notice. Statistics show that LinkedIn members with a photo receive far more engagement, 21 times more profile views, and 9 times more connection requests. That’s just one of the many reasons why it’s so important to have a quality headshot. As a former recruiter, I would look up every single person on LinkedIn–yes, every single person–before I interviewed them, and I can attest that all other recruiters do the same thing. Your online professional presence is important, and your picture is the first impression. So let me ask you this. Do you want to make a bad impression or a good one? Selfies. Are. Not. Headshots. Say it with me. [laughs] So I want to talk about what else is not appropriate in a headshot. There are other people cropped out of your photo. This is always super awkward, where you can tell that clearly there was someone cropped out of the picture, because guess what? You can see a hand on the shoulder. You can see maybe an arm around the shoulder. It’s weird, and it’s distracting. Other things. If you have on a tux, or if this is a picture from your wedding… I know you look nice. That was probably the best day in your life, right? But that’s doing a little too much, okay? Now, blurry or fuzzy photos, that really has to stop as well. [laughs] Or we’ve all seen this, someone has a picture of them on the beach. They’re on vacation. You know, you can see the water in the back, you can see the sunset. Now, unless you are, like, a professional traveler, not the best picture to use. Other things I’ve seen is if the picture is too dark and it’s kind of hard to make out who the person is in the picture, or–we’ve all seen this–where someone is holding a drink. Definitely no drinks in your picture. There really should be nothing in your hands. And then the other thing is your headshot should not really be showing your hands at all. So let’s talk about what actually is some things that make a headshot good. Now, let me just say this – professional headshots are the way to make sure that it gets done right and it gets done well, but I do understand that paying for professional headshots can be a little bit costly, right? So I want to give you guys some tips and tricks on how you can actually use your phone to get a really good headshot. First off, you want to make sure you get in front of a plain wall, and just get a friend, you know, or a family member to take the photo of you. Again, a plain wall is good, or even just a bright plain background. Outside will do. The lighting is always so great outside, typically, but you don’t want the background to be too distracting, which is why everyone recommends a plain background. In terms of that background, you don’t want to wear something that kind of blends into it, right? So if you decide to wear a yellow top, you don’t want to take your picture in front of a yellow wall. Make sure you dress up, you know? Make sure you look nice. Ladies, throw a little make-up on. Some light jewelry, fellas, you know? Make sure you have a fresh cut. You know, those things that we all do to make ourselves feel good and look good. Now, some people will say “Make sure you wear solid colors.” I typically love just bright colors and prints. So just wear something that is representative of you and your profession where you feel confident. You can kind of feel that confidence through the picture. Now, make sure that you smile, all right? Not just with your mouth, but smile with your eyes too. Make sure the lighting is bomb. Bright photos do pop more on LinkedIn. And make sure it actually looks like you. You know, ladies, we love to switch up our hair styles, but we usually all have that signature look, so you want to make sure that someone can actually recognize you from seeing your picture online versus actually seeing you in person. Just some other quick tips. You can always get some equipment, you know? They have those tripod stands. You can buy a backdrop. You can buy something for lighting. Amazon–Amazon is my best friend, so I’m always looking for things on Amazon. Check out Amazon for just some cheap equipment that will get the job done for you, especially if you don’t have anyone to take the photo of you. So use an app like VSCO, or V-S-C-O. It’s an app that’s free, and it allows you to edit photos to make them look like they are professionally done. The iPhone portrait mode is fire, so don’t be afraid to use the portrait mode. Now, kind of going back to the whole professional headshot thing or working with professional photographers. Again, that is your best route. Some professional events offer free headshots. For any college students, most career centers, they do offer free headshots to you. And honestly there’s just a lot of dope photographers out there, so I would encourage you to look up some photographers and challenge yourself to actually get behind the camera and let someone take that hard work out for you. I do recommend getting new headshots on an annual basis. I have seen where people have headshots from 5, 10 years, 15 years ago, and it doesn’t even look like you anymore. So, you know, really think about it. Invest in yourself. Again, having a good headshot will really enhance your professional brand. So that’s all for today. I hope you enjoyed it. If you have any questions, thoughts, comments, you can find me on IG and Twitter @Latesha_Byrd. That is L-A-T-E-S-H-A underscore Byrd, B-Y-R-D. Thanks for listening to The Link Up with Latesha. I am your host, Latesha Byrd. Until next time. And repeat after me. Selfies are not headshots.