Pictures have the ability to tell our stories better than written word. A resume may list your volunteer work with a non-profit that creates urban gardens for low-income communities, but a picture of you, elbow-deep in earth, showing others how to plant vegetables is more likely to connect with future employers who value community-minded team members.
With studies claiming 43% to 75% of employers check social media prior to hiring, every professional should invest in putting his/her best foot forward online, including his/her photos.
What Type of Pictures Should You Use?
Leverage pictures demonstrating your personal brand and core values. A mixture of headshots and candid photos should underscore your brand can extend your reach online.
Headshots are typically the images you use as profile photos. If you’re currently using pictures on LinkedIn that include wicked shoulder pads or teased hair, it may be time for a picture refresh.
For updated shots, hire a professional. In the absence of a professional photographer, identify people in your industry who have strong social media profile photos. Have a friend take a picture of you (no selfies, please) against a solid color background using some of the same poses as your industry rock stars. Your pictures should be sharp and well-lit.
Hint- Avoid attempting to take “power pictures” with your hands crossed or with your hands by your face in an attempt to look pensive.
Photos taken without your knowledge or while you naturally interact with others and your surroundings are considered candid shots. These are the photos where you demonstrate “what you do.” This can include work functions—if appropriate—and/or community service. My own personal candid shots include items like my speaking on large stages, playing with orphans overseas, and laughing with audience members.
Your candid shots should demonstrate your personality. Be careful to not over share though. No one needs to see a potential job candidate dancing on a table with a margarita.
Where Should You Put Your Pictures?
Use your headshots as profile photos on social networks. Candid shots make strong cover photos on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Google+. Use them on your timelines and social media posts as well. If appropriate, include a photo on your email signature.
To supercharge your photographs’ effectiveness, name the picture files your name. This will increase the likelihood of Google pulling them when employers and potential clients google you.