It’s a new year and many of us are looking for ways to go after what we really want and pursue the dream, or salary, that we have always dreamed of and know we’re made for.
Oftentimes, the job hunt centers around customizing resumes, learning about a company, and figuring out what connections we might have. While these are important steps, there is often one important aspect of professional presentation that is overlooked: the headshot.
With the focus on racking up credentials and experience, maintaining a recent headshot is the last thing that comes to mind. While nothing compares to experience and connections, it doesn’t hurt to have a winning headshot that speaks for itself when you’re not in the room.
While this may seem trivial, consider this: a recent study of over 2,000 LinkedIn profile photos, HR firm JD Palatine (JDP) reveals that for industries where headshots are rare, simply having one can help you stand out among your peers. The firm, which specializes in screening candidates and employees, offers a social media screening for their clients that includes an in-depth look at social profiles such as LinkedIn. In this study, they examined LinkedIn photos on six criteria such as lighting and attire across 11 industries to see what trends emerged.
Across the board, industries such as real estate, marketing and advertising, and human resources outperformed. In comparison, healthcare, government, and finance lagged far behind, with 20-36% of each industry missing a photo. However, while some professionals in the health and wellness industry didn’t feature a photo, when they did, they had the highest number of full smiles.
If it’s time to update your headshot (or perhaps get your very first one), there are a few guidelines to follow that can help you get photo you’re proud to show your peers and potential employers.
1. Keep It Simple
When preparing for a headshot, go for timeless looks such as neutral colors and clean lines. Color and patterns can make your headshot pop, but be sure to do so tastefully. How? Avoid trendy colors and styles as they can age quickly. The same goes for jewelry; keep statement pieces to a minimum. If you have a signature look, accessory, or color, now is the time to incorporate it and put it front and center. Make sure it doesn’t distract too much from your face. When in doubt, dress up. JDP found that only eight percent of all headshots had casual attire.
2. Take a Quality Photo
When choosing a professional photographer, get familiar with their work and talk with them in person or over the phone about what you’re looking for and to get their opinion on any concerns you might have.
Hiring a photographer is preferred, but not always in the budget. If that’s the case, find a friend with photography skills whom you trust or try out a selfie. You might be surprised what you can get with some decent lighting, an uncluttered neutral-colored background, and your phone’s self-timer.
3. Attire Matters!
Remember that while wardrobe is important, you are the most important feature of the headshot. Practice a few different smiles and angles in the mirror to get more comfortable with what you do and don’t like. Think about how you want people to feel when they look at your headshot and find a look that matches that. If you’re unsure, take a look at a few headshots of professionals in your industry. Some industries such as advertising might prefer a more casual or artistic look, while others such as financial services can look a bit more serious.
Whether or not you are going to have a client-facing role, it’s important to remember that you are always representing you. Headshots can not only help your peers take you seriously, they can give you a boost of confidence.Show up for your resume and LinkedIn profile by including a recent photo of yourself.
As the saying goes, “a picture is worth a thousand words.” Let your headshot do the talking for you and you might be surprised to see how far it gets you.