In today’s world, both business and personal, we are surrounded by visuals like never before. Our social media profiles are filled with photographs and videos of our lives, we are constantly inundated with ads and pop-ups from brands trying to sell to us, and business marketers know that content with images, charts or videos bring the most conversions. If quality visuals are key elements to our personal lives and corporate business, shouldn’t it also be essential in our professional life? Below we discuss 5 ways a professional headshot can be advantageous to your career and put you on the launchpad to success.
It’s an introduction
Your headshot is your introduction and first impression. Social media platforms like LinkedIn and Twitter are hunting grounds for recruiters and prospects alike. People not only use these platforms to present themselves as Subject Matter Experts (SMEs), but it’s also an opportunity to learn about and connect with new people throughout the world. Recruiters in particular utilize social media to discover new talent and learn about their skills, personality and ambitions. Before meeting with someone for the first time, recruiters will do a quick Internet search to find out more about prospects in advance. Going the extra mile and having a polished, professional headshot that represents you well, you’ve already made a positive impression on anyone who has discovered your profile. Keep in mind the implications of not having a polished headshot. Maybe your avatar is a blurry selfie from last year’s holiday party. What kind of impression does that give? How does that represent the personal brand you’re building?
Your headshot tells a story
Headshots are the perfect opportunity to tell your story, allowing your personality and expertise to shine through. From the angle and location to the expression on your face, your photo tells your story. When choosing a location, work with a professional photographer to pick the location that best suits your career and desired visual aesthetic. One of the most important things to keep in mind is that your headshots should align with your brand, whether that’s personal, professional or both.
What does aligning with your brand mean? Whether we’re talking about your personal or professional brand, your professional headshot should be representative of the visual style and persona you want to reflect. For example, if you work for a professional services firm who maintains business professional attire, your attire and headshot location should match that. Whether your headshot location is in-studio or on-location, it’s important to keep the background selection in mind. It’s smart to avoid any backgrounds that are similar to flesh tones, meaning any colors that are too similar to your skin tone. These colors can wash out the photo and provide a poor visual representation. If you work with an experienced photographer, they will be able to help talk you through the style you want to portray, but also provide insight on appropriate locations, lighting and other visual aesthetics.
Why are headshots important to have ready?
Having an updated headshot is crucial. The first that comes to mind is social media – your avatar is the first thing people see on your profile. Or, your current employer could request a headshot for their website or as part of a blog or social media post about you or written by you. Special company announcements or press releases may go out that require your headshot as well. Sending along a selfie or having your friend take a quick photo against a blank wall not only shows lack of preparation but a lack of professionalism as well. Having a high quality headshot ready to send at a moment’s notice shows you think ahead and represents who you are and your personality.
It’s a worthwhile investment
Choosing to get a professional headshot is choosing to invest in your future. And, a quality headshot does more than just make you look good in the eyes of recruiters or potential employers. It infuses confidence in your own professional capabilities. Recruiters will see you as strong, confident and put together, and knowing you were prepared can ease your stress and inspire you to be as confident and professional as that photo implies. To be clear, a headshot is a financial investment as well, but one that will undoubtedly be worth the cost. Thinking beyond the initial investment, if you land that job or secure that project, which leads to a promotion, the professional benefit and ROI will far outweigh what you paid up front. If you look at your headshot as your first introduction, a representation of who you are to potential connections or employers, do you think you’re representing yourself well? If you were on the other side, would you be impressed by you? Take the time to invest in yourself and your future, and I guarantee you will be happy with the results.