Should I Smile in a LinkedIn Photo?

It’s time to get a LinkedIn headshot. You’ve finally decided to take it seriously and get rid of that selfie on your profile, or that empty slot where your headshot should go. It’s a good thing too because that has likely been hurting your career opportunities. So, if you need to take a professional LinkedIn headshot, how serious looking do you have to be in it?

Smile in a LinkedIn Headshot

Always Smile in Your LinkedIn Headshot So You Appear Approachable, Confident and Happy

Yes, Smiling is Important

You don’t want to look serious for your LinkedIn headshot. You do want to look professional, pleasant, intelligent and approachable. This means you should smile in your LinkedIn photo. How much you smile can vary.

Some professions can get away with more smile than others. However, in most cases, it’s a gentle smile you’re after. There are plenty of studies on the importance of a smile in your professional headshot and in how much smiling to do.

Smiling demonstrate many things to those viewing the photo. It shows them you’re a happy person. People don’t want to hire unhappy people. It can also show you’re self-confident. Many people struggle with smiling in photos and those that can pull it off demonstrate a level of self-confidence.

Smiling is also inviting. If you’ve ever walked into a room to see someone looking mad, your mood instantly changes. Your shoulders and chin drop, and you ask, “what’s wrong.” If you’ve ever walked into a room with someone cheerfully giggling, you break into a smile with them and ask, “what’d I miss.” Smiling will put the viewer of your profile in a more positive mood.

Avoid the Cheesy Smile

For some people, smiling is a difficult task. It can be frustrating to try and downright stressful. So, it’s important to practice before going in for your headshot session. You want to try and smile with your whole face.

When a smile comes across as fake, it’s usually because the person is only smiling with their mouth and their eyes are doing a different thing altogether. For example, they might have an ear-to-ear grin and have their eyeballs so wide open it seems they might pop out. So, a slight smile along a slight squinting of the eyes is a good point to arrive at.

If smiling is a concern, talk with your photographer about it. Spend a bit of time just having an every-day conversation with him or her to break the ice. Ask for a practice run where you take several shots and then look at them to evaluate yourself. Often, this practice alone loosens up a person.

Does the Profession Matter?

Some people might argue that certain professions should avoid a smile in a headshot. Perhaps a police officer? No. A member of the military? No, though some commanders may order it. The point of a headshot is to sell a service or capability you are offering and that is hindered from happening if you don’t appear approachable. Always bet on a smile, even a tiny one, versus not smiling.

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