The LinkedIn Guide to the Perfect #WorkSelfie

April 29, 2015


Taking photos for a living means an incredibly varied existence, from capturing carefully planned portraits of CEOs and politicians, to snapping musicians mid-croon.

In my experience, people are often self-conscious about having their photo taken, particularly a work profile photo. However we now have the luxury of having some pretty smart cameras built into our smartphones, which has made it infinitely easier to snap a great photo in an environment that’s comfortable.

Taking a work selfie for your profile photo may sound funny, but it’s really easy and can give you the control and a leading edge. An interview starts the moment someone searches for you online and your first impression is your profile photo. In fact, LinkedIn data has proven that you’re 14 times more likely to be viewed if you have a profile photo.

To celebrate the launch of LinkedIn’s New Norms @Work research, I’ve been asked to step in as their #WorkSelfie expert. My challenge? Proving that in the era of smartphones, webcams and selfie sticks, everyone has the ability to take a great professional profile photo! So here are my top tips:

Do be aware of your surroundings: Using a background such as a white wall in the office or at home will ensure the focus is purely on your face and not on what is behind you. Make sure the wall is clear of any pictures, signs or people who could photo bomb you!

Do use natural light: Natural light is your best friend, so stay away from the flash. South-facing windows are perfect, as light will you hit straight on and compliment your face. Avoid direct sunlight as shadows can be harsh on faces.

Do use the right camera: If you know how to use one, putting a DSLR on a tripod and setting the timer function will give you a great quality photo. But don’t disregard your phone, it can give you a great shot if you follow some golden rules. Make sure it’s a fairly recent smartphone (for example, an iPhone 4 or above), find a makeshift tripod (a wall or book shelf) to avoid that awkward selfie arm, and use the main camera on the rear of your phone as the quality of the images will be better.

Do think about the angle: Taking a photo from above can provide a more flattering angle because it tends to emphasize your eyes and makes your face and neck seem smaller. Shooting from below can make some people appear powerful, but it usually makes the chin and nose look prominent, which isn’t a flattering look for most. Gender makes a difference as well - a broad rule of thumb is for women to look up at the camera slightly whereas men tend look better with the camera at eye level.

Don’t center yourself: The best photographs follow what’s known as the rule of thirds. This means that your eyes should be one third of the way down from the top of the photo and off to one side. This provides a more interesting photograph and probably a more flattering angle. Also give yourself plenty of distance between yourself and the lens so you can crop the picture later if necessary.

Do think about what you’re wearing: And how much of it you want in your photo! Head and shoulders make the best #WorkSelfie, meaning an off-the-shoulder top might not give you quite the right look for your ‘professional brand’. You also don’t want anything too distracting. Don’t be afraid to use colour though; it’s all about mirroring your personality.

Don’t do a cliché selfie: Duckface, pouting, sparrow face, fishlips, belfie, the bed, the bathroom, the restaurant, the seatbelt, the gym. These are just some of the selfies that don’t have a place on your LinkedIn profile. Show your natural self by relaxing your face and expression. Employers, colleagues and recruiters will quickly be able to tell if your #WorkSelfie is an unnatural or forced version of you. Try a few different expressions, make sure you smile or laugh. This may sound silly but by experimenting, you will get used to how your face looks and feels.

To read more about LinkedIn’s New Norms @Work study, check out this post by LinkedIn Career Expert Catherine Fisher.

I hope these tips help you take the perfect #WorkSelfie. Be sure to update your LinkedIn profile photo and share your #WorkSelfie on social media.

Lee Coles