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Tips & Resources

A Headshot to get you Hired: 5 Insider Tips to Improve your Headshot

Danny Fernandez photo
Danny Fernandez
30 June 2020

So you’ve decided to take the headshot plunge and update your profile picture. That’s great news, and a crucial step towards landing your dream job. 

Eye-tracking data shows that recruiters using LinkedIn spend a considerable amount of their time looking at profile photos says Fast Company. So maybe it’s the perfect time to replace that old, outdated photo with a professional new headshot.

Our specialist headshot photographers at Retratos Barcelona have spent years helping clients get stunning new portraits. We’ve put together a list of 5 definitive tips to help you get a stunning new headshot, whether it’s for your LinkedIn, Social Media, Email signature, Website or CV.

5 Ways to get the perfect headshot

1. Be clear on your intent

Before you iron your favourite shirt and contact your mate who has a great camera, we recommend asking yourself this simple question:

Why am I updating my headshot? 

There are many reasons why you might be updating your headshot, and your answer will help shape what kind of profile picture is best for you. Answering this question will help you decide what you should wear, what kind of background to include, and what kind of expression would be best.

Common reasons for updating your portrait include: ’To find a new job’, ‘To gain the trust of bigger clients’, and ‘To help me get my personality across on my website’. 

Clearly knowing why you’re replacing your old profile photo will put you in a much better position to move onto the next tips.

Being able to state why you’re updating your headshot will help you decide what kind of headshot you need

2. What to wear for your new profile picture. 

Your wardrobe plays a huge part in your photo’s first impression, so huge in fact, that we’ve dedicated a number of blog posts to this exact topic here. But to summarise, here are a few tried and tested recommendations. 

Dress like you would if you were going to a job interview with your dream employers. 

Your new profile headshot is so much more than who you are now - it represents who you want to become in the future. For example, Sam works in Finance but is longing to break into the creative world of Art Direction. Instead of dressing in the formal suit, he wears every day at the office, we recommend him wearing clothes that represent the new Sam: Art Director. 

Dress how you would for your dream job. 

Clothing to avoid: 

It’s best to avoid pure black and white clothes, as well as patterns and large logos. These often grab the attention away from the most important part of the photograph - your beautiful face.

Simple clothes often work well. 

Wash and iron. 

Because nothing screams “I’m-not-that-bothered-if-I-get-this-job-or-not” more than creased or dirty clothes. 

3. Think about the background.

The next important decision is to think about what kind of background you want for your headshot photography.

If your dream job is in the corporate world, perhaps a plain or textured background is best. The beauty of a plain background is that there are no distractions so that the viewer immediately looks at you. If you go this route we recommend choosing a colour which contrasts your skin tone, so you stand out of the image. 

Plain backgrounds help keep the focus on you. 

However, if your work environment plays an important part of your professional identity, including some in the photo is a great way to reinforce this. For example, many designers love to show off their studios, or those fortunate to work in beautiful work or coworking spaces - OneCowork in Barcelona ;) might opt to show some of that in the background of their photo. 

Including some background can help reinforce your professional identity. 

If you decide to include the environmental background in your headshot, make sure that it’s not distracting. Having a professional photographer will help here, as they can compose and blur the background in a way that doesn’t draw the attention away from you.

4. Strike a pose

We all want to make a great impression among colleagues, potential employers and clients. But without help, it can often be hard to get the pose and the expression just right.

Looking back to Tip 1 will help you decide what type of pose and expression is best for you. Research has shown that people view you as more ‘likable’, ‘competent’ and even ‘a positive influence’ when you smile in your LinkedIn profile picture. 

Hiring a pro here will make a world of difference. A specialist portrait photographer not only knows how to light you in the best way, but they’re also trained to pose and direct you in a way which helps you feel relaxed, look natural and most importantly, create a flattering new headshot that you’ll love. 

Having a natural smile in your headshot can make you appear more ‘likeable’. 

5. Consider hiring a pro

You may be thinking “I’ve got a decent smartphone - I’ll just snap a selfie and use that”.

Of course, that’s an option, and using our tips will dramatically improve your headshot. But having a professional take your business headshot is actually a pretty good investment. Pictures taken on a phone are never going to match the quality of a studio standard headshot, let alone light you in a way that enhances your best features, pose and guide you throughout the shoot, and bring out a natural smile. 

Uploading a low-quality headshot to your professional profile or website instantly devalues all the hard work you’ve put it. As Kate Harrison in Forbes says, “regardless of the business you are in, a blurry or poorly cropped picture conveys a sense a sloppiness and a lack of attention to detail that carries over to your organisation’s reputation.”

A headshot to get you hired - that’s a wrap!

We hope these 5 tried and tested tips help you get a great new headshot that you’ll love. However you choose to dress, whichever background you decide, and whatever your expression, this is – without a doubt – the first step to bringing life, and traffic, to your profile.

If you’d like to find out how we can help you with your professional headshots in Barcelona, click here. Plus, OCW members get an extra professionally touched-up photo for free. 

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