I’m often surprised by the photos people use for their professional online profiles. As with any form of communication, you need to know both your audience and your objective.
Professional online profile photos equate to first impressions at a job interview, this means you need to be aware that your wardrobe choices and the environment you are being photographed in are shaping the image of who you are presenting yourself to be. With this in mind you should dress for professional success in your profile pic.
If you’re short of ideas, pick up a magazine that covers your industry and checkout what the successful people in your field are being featured wearing. Or get inspiration from GQ or Forbes magazine; do a Google or Pinterest search for “modern professional outfits” or “sophisticated work outfits” and get inspired. You don’t need to wear a three-piece suit to look successful; a simple pair of slacks and a fitted shirt can do the trick if you know what you’re doing.
For the majority of people out there I would say: don’t go bold! Stay away from wild patterns, loud colors and big distracting accessories. And avoid super trendy looks. Trendy fashions aren’t always flattering on most body types and they go out of style very quickly. Instead opt for a classic look. It makes a person look put together and attractive whether it’s 1999 or 2017. Classic looks are usually clean and simple. But that doesn’t mean drab and boring.
I’d also advise you to err on the lighter side of conservative. I get that in our day and age, fashion is synonymous with individuality and personal expression. But a professional platform like LinkedIn isn’t the best place to showcase your personality via fashion statements. There is of course some leeway here, especially if you’re in a creative field… If you’re a creative individual working in a creative industry like interior design or fashion design or if you’re a musician or a painter and you have a sense of aesthetics that translates well into your fashion sense, then by all means have more fun with you profile pic. But remember it’s still a professional platform geared towards getting you work, not dates.
For example, what would you think of someone whose profile picture shows them wearing a t-shirt with The Grateful Dead scrolled across it? Or of a woman wearing a very low cut sequin-studded tank top with bra straps showing? Although there’s nothing wrong with either of these outfits in daily life, they’re not suitable for your LinkedIn profile as they both send subliminal messages that the viewer is interpreting and judging, often critically, when evaluating a potential employee, client or boss. Understand the first impression you are making.
But even with all this advice, I would still highly recommend hiring a fashion stylist and getting your photo taken by a professional. And here’s why:
Most people think they know what looks good and what’s attractive, but what looks good to you isn’t always what looks good on-camera. This acute understanding of how colors, contrasts, tonalities and form will play well together is as much a talent as it is a skill. Great taste in clothes doesn’t always equate to having the right photoshoot wardrobe.
Besides, no one is objective about the way they look. We’re our own worse critics and our perception of how others view us is based mostly on our own insecurities. This can go the other way, where we think we are presenting ourselves to the world in a confident, well put-together manner yet people are not responding favorably to what we are projecting.
I recently had a client show up to set wearing his every day professional attire. In his mind he was perfectly presentable, but his clothes were right out of the early 90’s, we’re talking circa Friends! And he was completely unaware that they made him look outdated. An outdated look can make a potential employer question your relevance in today’s professional marketplace. If a person hasn’t updated their wardrobe in 20 years, what else might they be out of touch with? Will they be able to adapt and bring innovative ideas to the table or are they stuck in an outdated way of thinking?
A fashion stylist can help you design a look that clearly communicates your professional energy and also reveals a certain amount of your personal essence. They’ll take into account the industry you work in and at what level, as well what career path you are hoping to take in order to tailor your look for success. They will understand the importance of your skin tone and hair color when selecting clothes as the wrong color can make a person look very hard and aggressive in photographs, or look ashen, sickly or meek. A fashion stylist will help you present yourself in the most attractive and professional manner. And that can make all the difference between a potential employer viewing your profile and being compelled to read your resume, or being inexplicably turned off and moving on to the next candidate.
Pia is our in-house wardrobe and styling guru. She works closely with our clients to create photoshoot-worthy outfits out of every-day closets. To contact Pia directly, you can email her at PiaPownall@gmail.com