"You only have one chance to make a first impression"

"The first impression is the last impression"

I'm sure people have heard or read comments such as those above.  Whilst they may be a bit cheesy there is a strong element of truth in them.  If there wasn't,  people wouldn't make an effort with their appearance which they clearly do.

This then begs the question;

"If you care about your appearance in real life why do you not online?"

On Linkedin it's not hard to find profile photos that can fall into one or more of the following categories;

  • Party pictures
  • Wedding photos (because I'm wearing a suit)
  • Holiday snaps
  • Dreadful lighting
  • Cropped so much they are pixelated

I recently did a study on my connections on Linkedin (about 200) and of those that had a profile picture found that a third were dreadful and basically having no photo would be significantly better, a third were OK (ish), and a third were quite good or better.

If you had asked me prior to this exercise I would have said the ratio of bad photos would have been higher.  The reason for this, I think, is that the bad photos stick out like a sore thumb whilst the decent ones almost go unoticed.  The absence of a photo just seems to annoy people, or at least those people I've spoken to.

So, why don't people have decent headshots on Linkedin?

From speaking to many on this subject some of the popular reasons include;

  • I haven't got a good photo
  • I keep meaning to put a good photo online but I haven't got around to it
  • I hate having my photo taken
  • I don't care what my picture is like
  • I haven't the time or money
  • I don't know where to get a headshot from apart from a photobooth

With women, by far and away the most common reason is  "I hate having my photo taken" which is fully understandable as I far prefer to be behind the camera reather than in front of it.  The consequence of that 'reason' however is that many people post dreadful photos onto Linkedin.  A professionally taken photo is always going to look better than a badly cropped party photo even if you didn't want to have it taken.  Also remember that Photoshop can be your friend.

For men the reason is often "I don't really care".  Not much to say to that, other than "You should do".

Perhaps even more worrying is that often people (men more so than women) actually think that the drunken shot at the party is 'good enough', 'people know what I'm really like'.  The trouble is that many people look at your profile on Linkedin who don't know you.  That's more or less the point of the website!  Why give people a bad first impression when you don't need to.  For job seekers this obviously has greater importance as many people recruiting will check people out on Linkedin as well as viewing their CV.

Obviously as a photographer I have a bit of a vested interest in people booking headshot sessions but I truly believe in the value of a good headshot and can get quite evangelical about it.