How to Look Good in Your Professional Headshot

Your LinkedIn profile is seven times more likely to be viewed if it includes a headshot. Here's how to nail the perfect professional pic

Woman holding a camera
(Image credit: Michael Donovan)

The Setup

You want something with more life than a basic corporate headshot, says LinkedIn Career Expert Nicole Williams. Opt for color instead of black-and-white, smile, and avoid ultra-rigid poses in front of a wall or logo. "This isn't Facebook. So no photos of you and your dog—unless you're a veterinarian," she says. Have a friend take the picture in natural light from a level slightly above your face to prevent a double chin. Clothing-wise, stick with a simple top or sheath dress in a solid color (jewel tones look good on everyone) and avoid busy prints.

The Hair

The ultimate goal is to meet the people who are viewing your photo, so you should look like yourself, Williams advises. If you have curly hair, wear it that way—just avoid any products that will make strands greasy or crunchy. For straight or wavy hair, a smooth blowout with moderate volume is "the woman's version of the man's red power tie," according to New York City hairstylist Gregory Patterson. His insider fix for last-minute flyaways: Mist them with a flexible-hold aerosol hairspray, then glide the body of the can over the strands. "The can is slightly cooler than room temperature, and that helps to set the hair," he says.

The Makeup

Polished, natural makeup telegraphs confidence, according to Jamie Kern Lima, a former TV news anchor who founded It Cosmetics. Kern Lima suggests neutral eyeshadow—"save the smoky eye for Saturday night"—mascara, and a hydrating lip stain for a natural flush of color. Finish with a translucent powder that's free of talc so you won't look ashy in photos. Don't worry if your makeup skills are subpar: You can always run the final image through an app like Beauty Box Photo ($0.99 on iTunes), which removes discoloration and can even smooth wrinkles and blemishes—no Photoshop skills necessary!

Jennifer G. Sullivan

Jennifer Goldstein is the former beauty & health director of Marie Claire and co-host of the award-winning beauty podcast Fat Mascara. In her quest to uncover the world's beauty secrets, she’s gotten tattooed in New Zealand, dug up turmeric in India, harvested shea nuts in Ghana, and squeezed enzyme-rich eggs from salmon in Norway. She can pluck eyebrows like a pro and has read the FDA monograph on sunscreen labeling and effectiveness—but she still can’t get liquid eyeliner to look the same on both eyes.