If you are not a photographer or creative, you probably don’t mull obsessively over taking the perfect photo. You might not even be sure what makes a good photo. But you subconsciously know a great portrait when you see it.
We all have scrolled through social media or LinkedIn and seen that person who skates by with a selfie, a photo snapped by a well-meaning friend, or even the dreaded silhouette as their profile photo. You might not mentally articulate it, but do you take him or her as seriously as someone who has a professionally photographed headshot? Of course not. Anyone with a successful career and the respect of bosses and colleagues has a professional profile photo on LinkedIn, their company website and/or blog, and other social media.
They say a photo is worth a thousand words, and that certainly applies to headshots. What kind of words does your current profile photo say about you? Does it communicate your skills and strengths - how you are trustworthy, confident, competent, experienced and successful - or something else? 😩
If you are a serious professional in any industry, you need a great professional headshot.
Whether you are a lawyer, a doctor, a car mechanic, an event planner, or a real estate agent, the one thing we have in common is we are all selling something. It might be a product, it might be a service, or it might be yourself - your personal skills or knowledge and experience.
How do you improve your chances of landing the sale, job, promotion, or next goal? How do you set yourself apart from the competition? In-person, a firm handshake and smile is key to meeting with a potential opportunity. Today, “81% of shoppers conduct online research before buying” and “93% of hiring managers will review a candidate’s social profile before making a hiring decision.” Don’t neglect to translate a good first impression to your digital presence!
In 40 milliseconds, we’re able to draw conclusions about people based on a photo… There’s been a host of research done on the various elements of a profile picture—how to look, how to not look, what to wear, whether to smile. - The Buffer Blog
A properly lit and posed photo means your eyes don’t have to be distracted from anything other than the subject and how approachable, youthful, and helpful he or she seems. A professional photographer knows how to tap into all of these elements to present you best you.
Let’s Get Down To Business
So how do you present your best you on the web? Here are a few tips to evaluate the professionalism and effectiveness of your current headshot.
Is it Current?
Your business headshot should be updated every three to five years. Headshots of you should actually look like you.
It’s okay to have your executive headshot retouched, but not overly retouched to the point where it becomes obvious and you look plastic. Look for a photographer who is also a skilled retouching artist, so he or she can polish your image without looking fake. You want people to know and recognize you, which is ultimately the reason for including a photo in the first place.
Are You Representing Your Industry?
The industry you work in determines how you should look in your executive portraits. A lawyer or CEO should be wearing a suit, whereas an actor, book author, or freelancer can get away with wearing something more creative or colorful. Get more executive wardrobe tips here.
Remember, this is an image that will represent you professionally, so you want it to reflect the culture of the career path you are pursuing. Especially if you are early into your career, dress for the job you want, not the job you have.
Are You Making a Connection?
Your business portrait help you connect with potential clients and opportunities, especially on your website. With this in mind, the final tip is to make sure your photo is engaging. You want it to resonate with people in a warm and inviting way, so they can connect with you before they ever contact you. The right photographer can get you relaxed and comfortable enough for you to genuinely smile and express in front the camera. It’s a must to appear warm and approachable to make a personal connection with your target audience.
It’s No Secret
These days, it is very difficult to be online and keep anything completely private or hidden. No matter what your job title is or where you work, or whether you are actively pursuing new opportunities or not, your online presence should be polished. If you said no to any of these questions and you are serious about your career, it may be time to talk to a photographer to schedule a professional headshot.
P.S. If you said yes to these questions, great job! Take it to the next level with our 10 Tips for Using a Professional Headshot.