headshot

It is Summertime, and in 2016, it may as well be called “Selfie Season,” as it seems the litany of photos posted to personal social media channels is endless.

We just thought it necessary to remind everyone, in the midst of all this fun, that a professional headshot on publicly accessible or work related profiles like Linkedin is a must. Humans relate to faces and body language, often more so than written or spoken word, so be sure that any outlets that you use to job search reflect a professional, successful you.

Yes, the college photo of you doing keg stands is both fun and nostalgic, but it may not make the best Linkedin profile picture, nor should it be a top search result when a potential employer googles you. As we have discussed here before, your online reputation matters! First impressions mean a lot, and the image you project online you can either help or harm you in the long run.

Here’s how to ensure you have a professional image standing behind your resume and your reputation.

Get It Done. Hire a Professional Photographer.

Want a professional level job? Look the part. Don’t use old, grainy, or poorly lit photos, even if you think you might look extra good. We all have our favorite photos we use, and as time goes by, we age – but our photo selves do not! And whatever you do, don’t use selfies. There just is an aura of unprofessionalism with the selfie phenomenon. Instead, find yourself a reasonably priced professional, or tap into your network – everyone knows a photographer – and get a professional headshot. One in which you are smiling, and looking sharp, wearing professional attire and looking directly at the camera, undistracted. It is a good idea to get an updated headshot at least every three years. Fashions change over time, from hairstyles to clothing styles, so be sure to look current. Some companies even offer free headshots during job fairs. If you just don’t have time or resources to visit a pro, find someone with a good quality camera and pose in front of a neutral background, looking clean cut and professional. Then be sure to add it to any job seeker profiles from Linkedin to Glassdoor, Behance, to Indeed. Anywhere there is a need for a personal profile photo, use your professional image. Also, be sure to ‘tag’ it for search engines by naming it your preferred professional name.

Selfies are not the answer.

We mentioned this prior, but the selfie notion also applies to the act of cropping yourself out of group photos. For example, a party shot at Margaritaville on a bachelorette party in Florida. While it looks good and resonates fun, it is tacky and unprofessional to an outside employer’s eyes. If you are serious about your career, be serious about your headshot and the personal image you project. Certainly, if you are in a creative field, you can be playful or deviate from the traditional boring old headshot, but be mindful and purposeful of your audience. If you are a lifeguard, a beach photo may be appropriate. However, if you are a nurse, you may not want to be seen doing jello shots. Visualize whom you want to be and project that image onto the web.

Google (Image) yourself.

Recruiters and potential employers google you; it is more common than you may think these days. So do it – see what comes up when your name and hometown, or even your name and current employer gets entered into the magic search box. Moreover, don’t just Google for content, search specifically for images – it is a results selection located just under the Google search bar. See what you find, and gauge if it would be good or bad for an employer to see. If the answer is not good, it may be time to take down some old photos or delete some old profiles. If you want a job, that is. And if you simply must post party pictures of your wild and crazy weekend, use a product like Snapchat that self-destructs. Or is supposed to, at least. The jury is still out on how ‘permanent’ things posted online in any capacity are.

Now, we are not saying you cannot have fun, non-professional (or even unprofessional) photos on your personal networks, just be sure your security settings are set to allow only friends and not the general public in on your fun.

Be consistent.

There is nothing wrong with using one or two identical headshots across all channels. It is better to control your personal brand with consistency than to come across as unprofessional or all over the place. Managing your online presence shows that your reputation matters to you and that you took the time to be on top of your personal presence online. Make it a practice to manage your professional profiles and keep them up to date with both information and visual elements like your headshot.

So remember, when it comes to job searching, it is better to be in control of your personal images than to let them control you!  Set the tone for your success by projecting success. Now, go forth and snap, but be ever present that big brother may be watching.