Smile! What Your Professional Headshot Says About You

HeadshotYou’ve revamped your resume, put the polish on your professional social networking profile, and are ready to shout your latest career aspirations from the rooftop. But you’ve noticed your profile pic was taken a couple of hairstyles ago, not to mention it was on a trip to Kauai and you are wearing nothing but board shorts and clutching a Mai Tai. Or maybe you just never even got around to adding a photo.

Yes, it’s high time you update your headshot.

A job candidate should never be judged on appearance, of course, but having a current photo within glancing distance of your credentials, can definitely work in his or her favor. “When I phone screen someone who has a headshot, I feel more connected to the individual,” says Brent McLain, Corporate Sales Recruiter for salesforce.com.

“The headshot acts like an ice breaker.” “I do think that Sales folks try to make themselves memorable, so maybe including a photo is their way of ensuring they stay top of mind,” adds Caitlin Friel, another salesforce.com recruiter.

Think of yourself as a brand and you are the spokesperson representing that brand. You want to make a good impression. You want to be remembered. That’s where the headshot enters the picture. Andrew Cesarz, who recruits junior candidates for salesforce.com – a younger audience that’s more likely to include a profile photo on social networking sites and sometimes might not yet know what’s appropriate – says a headshot can offer a glimpse into a candidate’s professionalism and business acumen. If job seekers haven’t included a photo in their professional social networking profile, he says, “the only thing I can infer is that they haven’t spent much time on the site.”

The expression “a picture’s worth a thousand words” definitely applies to the #dreamjob search process. Case in point – and we probably don’t have tell you this – but pet or vacation photos and career social networking just don’t mix.

“Your profile should be viewed as an online resume and needs to be as professional as possible,” adds McLain, who suggests updating your headshot once a year. “Recruiting in the tech industry, I expect candidates to have a thorough and polished social media presence,” adds Cesarz. “Not having a completed profile is more of a red flag than a profile lacking a picture. A profile with a picture of a landscape or a pet picture is worse than no picture at all and comes off as unprofessional.”

Headshot

Speaking of no picture at all, scroll through your list of professional connections and chances are you’ll spy a few photo-less contacts. Which left us wondering: Can not having a headshot jeopardize a candidate’s chances of scoring an interview? Could it be a reflection the candidate maybe has something to hide, lacks confidence in appearance, or isn’t detail oriented?

“As long as the candidate has a competitive background and appears to be qualified for the position at hand,” says Cesarz, “not having a picture doesn’t hurt their chances at all.” “I don’t mind if there’s no photo,” adds Friel, “but since LinkedIn is considered social media, I think photos are more accepted and expected on those sites. Anything other than a professional photo causes concern for me; I question their judgment on what’s appropriate and professional.”

There you have it, straight from the company gatekeepers. Now get that headshot in professional working order and go out there and vie for that job you’ve always wanted. As always, we wish you success in your #dreamjob search – picture-perfect success, that is.


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