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4 Reasons Why You Need a Professional Headshot Photograph

For everyone from college to retirement, an updated headshot keeps you relevant in the working world.

Headshots are a professional necessity as important as your resumé, LinkedIn profile, and interview skills. While most jobs do not ask for a headshot (or even legally cannot ask), if you have a LinkedIn profile, they will see your profile photograph. Just like your resumé, your headshot gives a first impression to your potential employer or business partners, and a professional headshot versus a cropped group photo or selfie can instantly show your professionalism in the workplace, as well as a bit of your personality.

There are a few times in your life when you absolutely need a new professional headshot and I am here to help you prepare for those moments.

#1 - College internship seeker

Your (maybe first ever) professional headshot is an important one! You are likely young and starting your LinkedIn profile from scratch. Set aside some money (or save monthly during freshman/sophomore year) to hire a professional photographer to capture your headshot. It is also possible your college is offering a headshot session for a reduced rate, be sure to sign up for a slot. This is an investment that will last you a few years and have a lot of eyes on it.

A few tips for your college (and all) headshots:

  • Be sure to pay for at least two images, sometimes a photographer will give you a dark and a light background, or a studio and an outdoor session, or simply offer two poses like straight on and quarter profile.

  • Wear a solid colored top, no pattern. We want the photograph to focus on your face, not your outfit. Keep it simple, and semi-professional (a suit or blazer is not necessary at college age).

  • Smile — practice in the mirror before your session, do you like a certain smile more than another?

  • Know if you have a side you prefer of your face. We only see ourselves in the mirror or selfies — have a friend take your photo with their phone and help you determine if you have a preference which usually has to do with the way your wear your hair or the symmetry of your face.

  • Deep breaths, the photographer will make your comfortable and a headshot session is usually very very quick, it will be over faster than it took you to get ready.

  • Save your headshot files in multiple places with keywords that you can search your computer easily for them, these are not something you want to lose or screenshot later.

#2 - Remove the cap & gown

Congratulations, you graduated from college or a masters program, it is time to go out and find a role which also means it is time to update your headshot. You likely have aged since your first headshot in freshman/sophomore year of college and you want to look "old enough" to resumé reviewers (many have unconscious bias towards age even for incoming roles).

A few tips for graduate headshots:

  • You can dress a bit more professionally, which may vary depending on the career you are entering. A tie, suit, blazer, or blouse would look nice but not necessary for all roles, however still stick to solid colors in general (a tie can have a soft pattern).

  • Look the part — do some research before your headshot session to see what people working at your potential companies are wearing in their headshots on LinkedIn. Be sure to add and message them after you update your headshot.

  • This headshot could last you up to 5 years so be sure to save in the same places on your computer as your internship search headshots and the same keywords.

#3 - Each company, each year

Every large company has an internal email and messaging system, plus people systems that allow others to see a profile photograph of you. Each company 10+ employees should offer annual headshot days for employees to have consistent headshots, for new employees to join in, and for any trans employees to have their identity affirmed at work.

Consistent headshots at companies could be on a colored background specific to the company (mine would be purple, right?), with the company's building or office in the background, wearing company clothing (like the fashion industry) or with the company logo on it.

Tips for companies supplying employee headshots:

  • Keep it consistent year over year, therefore not every employee needs a new headshot every year, only new hires — keep a consistent photographer for this

  • For new hires needing consistent headshots, supply examples ahead of time and day-of so each employee can see how to pose for consistency

  • If you do change your headshots, clear your team's calendars so they are available to all get their headshots taken

  • Have a make-up day in case you have employees out sick or on leave

#4 - Every 5 years

Whether you are looking for a new job, opening your own business, or staying in your role, be sure to update your headshot every 5 years or so. While we don't all age or change much how we look over every 5 year period, it is likely some things have changed like fashion, hairstyles, makeup, and more. Set a reminder in your calendar on the day of your headshot for 5 years in the future to schedule another one.

Are you ready to schedule your professional headshot?

Find a local photographer who can achieve the style you are looking for at your current needs. Are you in the New York City area or Northwest Arkansas? Check out Hannah Golden Photographs for personal or company headshots.

Let me know in the comments, when was your last headshot taken?

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