Interview prep

Get a free professional headshot in 15 minutes or less

Step by step instructions for editing an existing photo or taking a new one to look professional and beautiful

First impressions might be last impressions if you don't have a photo on social media.

According to a LinkedIn study, recruiters are 27% less likely to click on your profile in search if you don't have a profile picture. In the past, getting a headshot involved hiring a professional photographer, taking the afternoon off, and going to a photoshoot.

Not anymore.

We're going to tell you how to DIY a professional headshot. With these tips, you can get a high-quality LinkedIn profile photo in minutes (without Photoshop!).

What Makes a Great Headshot?

Any headshot photographer will tell you that finding the right lighting is the biggest challenge. Beyond that, take these tips into account when taking your photo...

  1. Look straight at the camera (be careful not to squint!)
  2. Wear a solid color and have a simple, solid background
  3. Watch your facial expression - smile and appear friendly
  4. Be careful with your body language - your hands should not be visible in a headshot

Here's an example of a headshot with these elements:

How to Do It Quickly

Need a headshot for LinkedIn or a new job? Here's my 15 minute guide to creating the perfect headshot (no photoshoot required!).

  1. Pick a photo of yourself you really like. It can be a selfie, or a photo with other people. The only rule is, it has to have good lighting.
  2. Remove the background. I like using a free tool called - you simply upload the photo and it crops out the background for you.

Here's an example of a before and after:

Finally, be sure to choose a solid background and crop the photo at the shoulders. I am extremely lazy, so I recommend the fastest method: paste it into Google Docs and change the background color until you're happy. 

Take a screenshot of the final result to use as a screenshot.

An Alternative DIY Method

If you have absolutely no photos you can use for this - let's take some! You can plan your own, last minute headshot session at home with these steps:

  1. Make sure you're well groomed. Remember that solid colored clothing is best.
  2. Find natural light. Direct sunlight on your face is best.
  3. If you have an iPhone, turn your camera to "Portrait Mode".
  4. Have the camera at eye level (not looking down like in a selfie).
  5. Use a self-timer (to make it less obvious that you're taking a selfie).

Let's look at an example of how to get the lighting right:

You can also reference a quick instructional video like this one. It shows you how to take a photo on your iPhone using portrait mode. It's perfect for a crisp headshot look with a blurred background. See the video below:

Professional Headshots Using Portrait Mode on your iPhone

If you have a friend or relative to help: I recommend taking more time to do a headshot photoshoot. This video will teach you how to use lighting at home and stage your photo right. See the video below:

6 tips to take a headshot with a friend

If you're alone: you can still get that corporate headshot look using a self-timer or by editing a selfie (remember to keep the camera eye-level!) Here are some tips on how to use a self timer to take photos. See the video below:

Using self-timer on an Iphone

Let's Touch up Your Photos

If you want to go the extra mile and touch up your photos, minor changes are easy to make with photo editing apps. Leave photoshop for the professionals-- here's what you should try instead. 

My favorite technique: go black and white. You simply can't go wrong with this. It always looks classy and it's incredibly forgiving of small flaws like stained teeth, wrinkles, etc. You can easily do this in Google Docs with the technique I showed you before.

If you want to do something more advanced, you can use an app on your computer or smart phone. There are plenty of great options, but my favorite is Snapseed. It provides a myriad of options that would be painful to do if you don't know photoshop. Here's how it works:

Use Snapseed to edit headshots

If You Want a Professional Headshot...

I paid for my headshot and I would only deem it necessary in some cases. It's beneficial for certain professions or if you want to make edits to your photo that are beyond what we've discussed.

However, having a professional headshot certainly won't hurt, regardless of your background. It's not that expensive and it's a great investment in your personal brand. Here's the info for the headshot photographer I use, Tim King.

Next: Which resume outline should you use

The information provided herein is for general informational purposes only and is not intended to provide tax, legal, or investment advice and should not be construed as an offer to sell, a solicitation of an offer to buy, or a recommendation of any security by Candor, its employees and affiliates, or any third-party. Any expressions of opinion or assumptions are for illustrative purposes only and are subject to change without notice. Past performance is not a guarantee of future results and the opinions presented herein should not be viewed as an indicator of future performance. Investing in securities involves risk. Loss of principal is possible.

Third-party data has been obtained from sources we believe to be reliable; however, its accuracy, completeness, or reliability cannot be guaranteed. Candor does not receive compensation to promote or discuss any particular Company; however, Candor, its employees and affiliates, and/or its clients may hold positions in securities of the Companies discussed.