Of the many things that influence how you’re perceived, your headshot is among the first that people see. It should be professional, and you’ll want it to show some personality. Follow these guidelines to put your best face forward.
If you have 10 minutes, choose a better photo
Even if you don’t have a proper headshot, there’s probably a picture in your photo library that’s better than what you’re using now. You may want to change your headshot if:
- it shows you in an overly casual setting, such as a bar;
- other people in the shot can’t be easily cropped out; or
- your look has changed or the photo is older than five years.
Instead, choose a photo where:
- you’re dressed professionally;
- you’re smiling and your eyes are open; and
- you’re the only person
If you have one hour, improve your selfie
Your phone is a super computer. Leverage its power.
- Find a clean background such as a clean white or tan wall.
- Avoid clothing with loud colours and busy patterns.
- Soft light from a window is better than a flash, direct sunlight or overhead lighting, which create harsh shadows.
- Style your hair as usual. If you wear makeup, keep to your everyday look. Use a little powder to reduce shine on your forehead and nose.
- A photo taken by a colleague, spouse or friend will look better than a selfie.
If you have three hours (and money to spend), go pro
A professional photographer gives you more control over the result. For better value, pay the photographer to take photos of several people at your firm. Rates vary, but expect to pay at least $400 for a half day.
- To bring the headshots to the next level, and if your budget allows, hire a hair and makeup artist ($150/hour and up).
- If you get a haircut or want to try a new style, do it one week before the shoot to allow your hair to settle.
- Avoid trendy clothing and accessories so the shots are relatively timeless.
- Invest in a new headshot whenever you change your appearance, or every five years.
With other people in the photo, harsh sunlight, crooked eyeglasses and a t-shirt, this is a non-starter.
Although this is a selfie, the shirt looks more professional. Softer light and open eyes would be better.
The work of a photographer and a stylist project confidence and business acumen. Update every few years.