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Whether you’re in an entry-level position or you’re an established expert in your field, there’s one thing that can help set you apart from the competition and help you create a lasting impression: a professional headshot. With nearly 70% of potential employers searching for applicants on social media, it’s extremely important to put your best face forward to create a positive first impression  – before the interview even begins. High-quality, professional headshots are one of the simplest things you can do to advance your career, but also one of the most overlooked and underrated.  

Here are five tips to ensure your investment is a wise decision:  

1. Put your best face forward.

The night before your photoshoot, have your clothing selections stowed in your garment bag, ensuring that you have everything you need. Be sure to choose items that make you feel confident for your session – your power outfits. Take a long shower or bath to relax, and make sure to get a great night’s sleep. Avoid drinking alcohol and make sure to hydrate properly, starting 48 hours prior to your session, so that your skin looks radiant.  

2. Invest in professionals.

The most important thing you can do once you decide to have professional headshots done is to do your due diligence when hiring a photographer – otherwise, you could be hiring someone that has no idea how to use lighting or even how to compose a true headshot, which would make your images completely unusable. Considering that the norm is to also hire someone to style your hair and/or makeup and possibly even your outfit, you’re not just wasting the photographer’s sitting fee, but rather a huge investment. When hiring someone, be sure to ask to see an entire session of proofs instead of just one or two images per session that is already within their portfolio – portfolio images are often cherry-picked as the best of the best and though they may be amazing, it does not show the photographer’s true ability to photograph an entire session. 

3. Express Yourself – Tell your story.

Your headshot is more than just an image of you – a good headshot should portray what you look like and give the viewer an idea of what you are like to work with and know as a person. It is up to you and the photographer to create headshots that show your true character – your goal is to draw in potential employers or clients, colleagues, and even opportunities. You’ll want to start posing using a mirror leading up to your session, so you can nail your expressions. The background you decide to use for your headshots may also play a part in telling your story – you could use a solid background for a corporate look, show your love of the outdoors or architecture, or even show your studious side by taking your portrait in the library.  

4. How many headshots should you have?  

But how many looks should you have whenever you book for headshots? That depends on what type of business you’re in as well as your goals. If you’re working in the corporate industry, 1-2 different looks or poses may work for your needs, such as a serious pose and then a smiling one. However, if you’re a professional that is networking heavily, you may want several different backgrounds and outfits, so that you can decide on usage-based on the image you want to portray for a specific demographic. 

5. Where should you use your headshots? 

Once you receive your edited headshot images back, the first thing you’ll want to do is change your LinkedIn profile photo, as well as your profile image on any website that you are actively using to advance your career, such as your website, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. If you are actively seeking a position and sending out resumes, you’ll want to consider if you should upload your images to social media to use them as your profile photos — if you decide to use candid photos on those websites, you may also want to consider changing your name slightly so that an employer may not find you in their own search, depending on your own privacy preferences. 

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