With the current economic environment which, let's be honest, is pretty crummy - people are looking to expand their job prospects as much as humanly possible. In this era of social networking, LinkedIn has become the de facto site for networking professionals. Of course, Facebook still rules the web, but your future employer doesn't want to see pictures of you doing keg-stands at that 1997 frat-house kegger. And that "cute" photo you posted of you and your better half yucking it up in Puerto Vallarta isn't going to curry any favors with the HR department - unless they like that sort of thing. And that's just creepy.
When it comes to resume headshots you need to start off on the right foot by understanding that your LinkedIn profile is essentially an on-line resume. It should be presented just as professionally as a hard copy resume, and should have just as much polish. This means - yes - you need to run the spell checker! Come on, I realize the internet is fast and lazy, but if you want some one to pay you an annual salary to do a serious job you HAVE to dress the part! And when it comes to the photo, you really need to present yourself as someone who can fit into a workplace environment.
Your Profile Photo Should Match Your Job
Different jobs have different environments, and this needs to be conveyed in your profile portrait. For example, a lawyer may need to were a suit and tie or blouse, whereas an engineer who works at a computer all day may be able to pull off a collared shirt with a sweater over top. A mechanic should wear a garage jumpsuit, a nurse should wear scrubs... you get the idea. But whatever you do, do NOT use LinkedIn to show off your sassiest self-shot portrait.
It took me less than 20 seconds of snooping around LinkedIn to see some shining examples of what NOT to do in your profile photo. Take this photo to the right, for example - there is so much wrong with this image I don't even know where to begin... this guy is wearing a fedora - with a short sleeve button-down shirt - while wearing gloves - at night - in the woods - yet I can see his house in the background. Just what kinda job does this guy think he's gonna get??
Indian Jones's, perhaps.
What this all means is, K.I.S.S. Keep It Simple, Stupid. There's no reason to go over the top, or to make some type of statement... save that kind of stuff for your Facebook account (which should be set to Private, by the way). In fact, the less self-aggrandizement, the better. Present your self-confidence and professionalism, but demonstrate that you are a pleasant approachable person as well. Keeping these ideas in mind when booking your photoshoot will help you land that job interview in no time!
Here are some samples from a recent LinkedIn portrait shoot in my downtown Denver photo studio: