When making a first impression, do you know what percentage is based on your appearance and manor?
A whopping 55%! Now physical appearance has to do with many factors: your wardrobe, hairstyle, makeup, accessories, facial expression, and the most common mistake of all, body language. No matter what line of business we are in, we are all selling something. I’m not talking about necessarily selling a physical product. I’ll touch more on that in just a minute.
How long do you think it takes the average consumer to make their first impression? (Hint-this will blow you away)
The most recent studies have shown that it now takes average consumers one tenth of a second to make their first impression. This is pure craziness! That means that before they can even consciously recognize what they like/dislike about a person, their minds have already been made up.
So let’s talk about what YOUR headshot says about you…and what it should say
We live in a very technologically driven world. When people want to know about something or someone, what is the first thing they do? They go online. When they want to find out about a product or service, they Google it. When they want to find out more about a person, they’re heading to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, & LinkedIn. What is the first thing they are going to do when they get to your Facebook page? Yep, they’re going to look at your profile picture. Then they might even go into creep mode and look at all of your pictures (don’t act like you haven’t been there).
So back to your headshot. If you’re older than 22, there’s really no excuse not to have a headshot. Online appearance is extremely important. Many people make their decision while researching online. Whether you’re searching for your dream job, vying for a promotion or hoping to appeal to prospective clients, your headshot should communicate that you care enough about your appearance and your profession to invest in it.
Think of your headshot as your brand. What do you hope to communicate to your audience? Look at your current headshot. Does yours communicate what you want it to? Look more closely. Is it a professional headshot or did you go to the cheapest amateur you could find? This is one area that you don’t want to price shop. Recruiters see headshots all day long. Do you think they are going to be impressed that you found a “photographer” to take your headshots for $100? NO, my friend. They are going to take one millisecond of a look at your picture and move onto the next candidate.
The old saying, “you get what you pay for” certainly holds true for photography. Investing in a professional photographer who has extensive knowledge of lighting, angles, composition, posing and most importantly, how to connect with their subject, will set you apart from your competition. Remember; 55% of a first impression is based on your appearance! Most hiring managers at large companies won’t even consider an applicant who doesn’t have a LinkedIn page. And if you don’t have a professional headshot on your page? Forget it.
Let’s go through some common headshot mistakes:
- Biggest mistake-using a non-professional photo. This says “I don’t care enough about my business/future/clients/job to pay for professional images.”
- Your smile isn’t genuine. A professional photographer’s job is to bring out the best in every single person.
- The posing is outdated. If your picture looks reminiscent of 90s walk-in portrait studios, no one is going to take you seriously. Staying up-to-date in the business world shows you adapt easily and stay on top of trends.
- The posing is unflattering. We all have insecurities about our appearance and the last thing we want is for our perceived flaws to be accentuated. A professional photographer should be able to choose the appropriate lens, lighting, angles and posing to minimize distracting features and make you look your best. You don’t want a double-chin in your headshot, do you?!
- Poor choice of clothing. Invest in a good-fitting, nice outfit. Stick to solids. Patterns distract from your face, and that’s the whole point of a headshot, right? For ladies, choose one or two classic pieces of jewelry (if you are in a corporate field). If you’re a creative, choose a fun statement piece that adds to your personality. Clothing should be fitted, but not tight. For men, a fitted, tailored suit or dress pants with a fitted dress shirt is perfect. If you’re a man in the corporate world, it’s best to avoid bright colors.
- Poorly applied makeup. Makeup for the camera is completely different than every day makeup. There are certain moisturizers and foundations that will cast a harsh glow when photographed under studio lights. Makeup also tends to fade in pictures, so it’s important to use professional makeup with intense pigments. Highlighting and contouring the lips, eyes and cheeks is very important because you want your face to have definition. If you aren’t a pro at applying your own makeup, I’d suggest finding a makeup artist or finding a photographer who includes professional makeup with your headshot session (my sessions come with professional airbrush makeup and hairstyling).
- Body language-93% of people’s judgements of others are based on non-verbal communication, such a body language. For example, if a woman crosses her arms with her hands tucked in close to her body, she appears confrontational and unapproachable. Her hands must appear delicate and her shoulders should be at an angle to the camera to appear professional, yet inviting. If a man tilts his head at a 45 degree angle toward the camera, this is considered too feminine. Your photographer should know exactly why they are posing you.
How do you decide what your headshot should say about you?
You are your own brand. Even if you are among thousands of employees at a Fortune 500 company, your appearance, personality, demeanor and communication all make up your personal brand. Make a list of adjectives that you believe accurately describe yourself. Think about how you want others to feel when they look at your headshot.
For example, I recently photographed a Realtor whose target market was young married couples/families. She wanted to appear genuine, fun-loving and easy-going because that’s what working with her is like. So already, she had a clear idea of who her target client was and what kind of service she provided. After she booked her session, I worked with my stylist to make recommendations for hair and makeup. I worked with my client on her wardrobe choices, providing her with visual references online. Together, we decided on the location (on-location vs studio), the backdrop color, which color outfit would complement her best and what kind of expressions we aimed to capture. Here is a look at her favorite image:
Remember: Be consistent with your brand
After you get your headshots, use your picture across all of your social media (especially if you are in the process of applying for jobs). Recruiters will most likely check your social media accounts to make sure you can accurately represent their brand.
How many headshot images should you have?
This varies for different industries, but the main point of your headshot is to show off your personality. Now everyone has different sides to their personality, and we show our various sides according to who we are speaking to, what job we’re applying for, the type of client we’re trying to attract, etc. So why would you just have one image?
For the corporate world, 2 images is suitable. However, if you are an actor, musician, photographer or in the public eye, you will need 3-7 images to portray the dynamics of your personality. It’s also very important to keep your headshots current. Update your headshot every 1-2 years, sooner if you make any drastic changes to your appearance.
“Make it simple, but significant.” -Don Draper (Man Men)
Now that you’ve gone through Headshots 101, you’re ready to start thinking about your brand and what you want to communicate to all of those people who will be making their first impression of you in one tenth of a second 🙂
To schedule your free consultation, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 309.212.6359.