Why uploading a photo to your professional profile matters for your career

If you see it at face value, having a headshot photo on your professional profile shouldn’t make any difference. Your experience and expertise is what matters, right? What you bring to the table is more important than the lovely face grinning above it. Who could argue with that?

Well, because digital identity is increasingly important, particularly in a world of lockdowns, social distancing, and masks, your face has even more value than it used to – and it used to have far more value than you probably realize. Your face humanizes your expertise and builds trust fast. And the great news is that a professional headshot doesn’t have to be taken by a professional – it just needs to have a professional in it..

Which is where you enter the picture.

Your profile photo – science says “Smile!”

Human beings make the decision about whether to trust another person within – wait for it – 100 milliseconds of seeing their face. So if you’re a person who takes 30-minutes to make a decision about what movie to choose from your favorite online service, or hums and haws over the menu at a restaurant until you’re so hungry you’d eat anything, you might doubt this about yourself.

Fun image of woman with head covering face and sunglasses acting as eyes.
Doing this in your headshot makes you both funny and unemployable.

Apparently, the power of facial emotion has a serious impact on our behaviors and decisions. In a photo, a smiling face can invoke feelings of trust instantly. And if you have a twinkle in your eye, too, the sky’s the limit (probably). Your face provides the ultimate first impression. Many studies claim that shoes also have a dramatic first-impressions effect, but most good photographers would discourage you from trying to include them in a headshot. If they don’t discourage it, run.

Here are some other things you should avoid in a professional headshot.

Even in the world of remote work, online meetings and digital collaboration, the bottom line question of what you could bring to the table is not the only question on that table. Remote or in-office, your career almost certainly means being the member of a team. So people aren’t just curious about what you can do, they want to know what you’re all about. And that’s exactly what they’re wondering when they open your professional profile page and view your headshot photo.

Seeing yourself as a brand

Some people could find the above idea offensive. Those who don’t are likely to profit from it. There aren’t many famous and/or successful people who don’t or didn’t. Brit Michael Ian Grade, Baron Grade of Yarmouth, CBE, ex-controller of BBC1, chief exec of Channel 4, and chairman of the BBC, came from a family that ruled over British entertainment – but nobody who knew him doubts that his own personality and personal branding made his career.

Man pulling jacket open to reveal a "You are your own brand" image on T-shirt.
When you know what works, keep it to yourself or get it off your chest.

When he hit Hollywood, his wife decided that he should take to wearing red braces and socks at all times. A simple idea, it worked like a treat. In a place where his name hardly mattered, people would remember him by saying: “That guy with the red braces really hit the nail on the head,” or “That guy in the red braces is a knucklehead.” 

Either way, everybody remembered him.

Showbiz loves tricks like that. The look, the gimmick, the one-liner. In your world, building trust and showcasing your expertise on the same page at the same time is a powerful way to compete. Your smiling face, your jobs and achievements, all hopefully leading to a resume that is simplicity itself. That’s where no-nonsense, bottom line numbers, percentages and dollar amounts come into play. That’s where the first stage of the deal is really done.

But the warm smile and polite introductions remain crucial.

That smart smile – profiles and professionalism

It isn’t just scientific research that says your smile sells you to others. Every high-level member of every company you will ever want to work with has already been through this thought-process, learning curve, and physical experience.

When building a website for your business, one of the first things you learn is: humanize your brand! Get your smiling faces out there, introduce your team visually, build trust with visitors to your site, be a company of cultures and personality types who love working together toward a common goal, not a cold corporate entity, aloof and tough to approach.

So they see that you know how to play the game, which could be a game-changer for your career. For millions of people, that big first impression is a digital experience; and those who keep their heads will win.

The selfie and career success

As mentioned earlier in the article, a professional corporate headshot photo doesn’t have to be taken by a professional. It just needs to show one. And with modern technology at your disposal, a selfie can easily do the trick. Here’s how it’s done.

If you’re using an iphone, you make that up by investing a little more time setting your photoshoot up for success. And it’s quite easy.

Make sure everything is focused on you

Plain, clean background
A solid colored shirt
A good angle for the shot
Lots of light

Smiling woman taking a selfie photo.
Getting your selfie right can work as a great professional headshot.

Technical tricks that make it easy

Your photo file type is a PNG or a JPEG
Photo file is under 15MBs (find file-size in the area the photos are stored)
Think about your successes

Uploading onto your Ladders profile

Sign in to your account.
Tap your name at the top right of any page in your account.
Tap “Public Profile” in the menu on the left of the page.
Tap in the space that says “Add Photo”.

This will enable you to go to the area in your device where your photos are stored.

Tap your photo and then “Open”.
Your photo will appear with a photo edit box around it.
Tap and hold the image – you’ll be able to move it within the frame.
As the box moves and resizes, it shows the photo as it’ll appear.
Once you’re happy with what you see, tap “Save”.

If your photo appears the wrong way round, use the box icon between “Cancel” and “Save” to rotate the image.

When happy, tap “Save” and wait for a few seconds.
Your photo will appear and be auto-saved in your profile. 
If you’re not happy with the results, tap “Remove” in the top right corner of the photo box.

Start again and keep smiling!