I see it almost daily, and I cringe every time. A professional’s social media profile with an awful snapshot, or worse yet, a selfie. A company advertisement featuring team members wearing sloppy attire. A newsletter highlighting an award or employee with photos that diminish credibility instead of add to it.
The images you use to represent yourself are more than just pictures. They are the first impression someone has of your experience, skills, credentials, and expertise. They reinforce and visually represent your personal brand. They demonstrate your perceived career potential — especially if the picture is on your social media profile, business card or company’s website. This is why a professional headshot is an essential element of every administrative professional’s career toolbox.
Let me illustrate my point. If you were hiring this person — as an employee, trainer, speaker, etc. — which image looks like she’s worth paying more than the rest?
The resounding response in my training workshops is always C. Even though these three images all represent the same person, the professional headshot stands out!
Need more convincing? Here are three key reasons you need a professional headshot.
- You only get one chance to make an outstanding first impression. That first impression happens within one-tenth of a second, according to a study conducted by Princeton psychologists. In that fraction of a second, judgments are made about attractiveness, likeability, competence, trustworthiness, and more.
- Every social media site you engage with requires a profile picture. Social media sites, especially LinkedIn, demand a professional picture. And if you’re on the job hunt, your Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and other social sites should have one, too.
- You need to professionally represent yourself and your company. You never know when you’ll be recognized with an award, a feature article in the company newsletter, or a volunteer position within a local non-profit or professional association. You’ll be surprised at all the places you can use a professional photo once you have it. And you’ll be happy and proud to submit an image, instead of embarrassed to at the snapshot you scrounged up at the last minute.
Here are a few quick tips to help you get a professional headshot that you will be happy with:
- Hire a professional photographer. It’s worth the price. This is not a job for an amateur with a good camera. Hiring a professional means you’re working with someone who knows how to use proper lighting, has experience with posing people, and uses top-notch equipment. This will make a huge difference in your final product. Preview the photographer’s headshot galleries on their websites before choosing one. Get to know their work and a little about their personality so you can feel as comfortable as possible when you arrive for your photo shoot. You don’t need a package of prints when you’re finished, either. All you need to pay for is a sitting fee and one or two digital images that you can use electronically.
- Dress to impress. It could mean the difference between getting that recruiter to call you back or not. You don’t have to wear a three-piece suit, although you certainly can. Wear something that portrays you in the most positive and professional way possible. Your images should be authentic and genuine. Think about if you were meeting a top executive for the first time at a company you really want to work for, what would you wear? Save the casual clothes for another occasion.
- Choose your outfit color, style, and texture with care. My professional photographer, Barb Gordon, recommends these three tips for getting images you love in her special report, “3 Big Secrets to Having Portraits You Will Love.”
- Wear solid colors. Patterns, stripes, plaids, and bright colors distract from the eye. Solid colors are more timeless and more pleasing to look at.
- Wear long sleeves. When viewing a photo, our eyes want to go first to skin tones. Bare arms and legs detract from the face. Your face is the central focus of a good headshot.
- Use texture. Texture refers to the type of fabric – coarse, ribbed and microfiber are all types of fabric textures. The camera loves texture because light will skim it, be picked up, tossed around, and give added interest to the image without taking away from the subject.
Already have a professional headshot? It may be time to update it. Here are a few guidelines for deciding whether or not it’s time for a new professional pic.
- If you look in the mirror and your headshot no longer looks like the person you see.
- If it’s been more than five years since you updated your headshot. My personal rule of thumb is typically three to four years.
- If you are 15 lbs. heavier or lighter than the last professional headshot.
- If your hair style or color has changed substantially.
- If the only pictures you have of yourself are snapshots and selfies.
If you’re an administrative professional who wants to professionally and positively represent your personal brand to the world, a good professional headshot is a must. Make this investment in yourself and your career today. You won’t regret it!
© 2014 Julie Perrine International, LLC
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Julie Perrine, CAP-OM, is the founder and CEO of All Things Admin, providing training, mentoring and resources for administrative professionals worldwide. Julie applies her administrative expertise and passion for lifelong learning to serving as an enthusiastic mentor, speaker and author who educates admins around the world on how to be more effective every day. Learn more about Julie’s books — The Innovative Admin: Unleash the Power of Innovation in Your Administrative Career and The Organized Admin: Leverage Your Unique Organizing Style to Create Systems, Reduce Overwhelm, and Increase Productivity. And request your free copy of our special report “From Reactive to Proactive: Creating Your Strategic Administrative Career Plan” at www.AllThingsAdmin.com.