If you’re wondering whether or not you need a professional headshot for your resume, LinkedIN, or other corporate uses, you’ve come to the right place. I really don’t think enough emphasis can be placed on the importance of this topic and how it can be used to elevate your personal brand in your professional field.

Let’s examine 5 reasons you should have a professional headshot taken to use as your personal branding photograph on LinkedIN (or any where else for that matter):

1 – First Impressions Count

Whether we want to admit it or not, first impressions during a job search are EXTREMELY important. This is the reason that we meticulously prepare ourselves for an interview, paying careful attention to our appearance and hygiene. When you walk in that door and meet the hiring manager, you want them to be impressed. So then why wouldn’t you take the same care with the online version of your first impression? Often, the very first time a hiring manager sees what you look like is on LinkedIN as they research their candidates. Don’t let them find a terrible photo of you taken 10 years ago on a family vacation, or even worse – no photo at all.

If their first impression of you is that you are confident, approachable, well put together and clearly took the time and care to hire a professional photographer to handle your headshot, you will have done everything within your power to make that first impression a big win. If you don’t, well you may have just been put in the ‘probably not’ pile and lost the opportunity to stay in the running without even knowing it.

2 – Confidence

Knowing that you look your best in your online headshot, and that you project the right professional image can be a tremendous confidence builder heading into an interview process. Put your best foot forward and reap the benefits of the confidence that it builds.

3 – Step Out from the Crowd

Set yourself apart from the crowded job market and shine. There are certainly a few ways that you can start to accomplish this, but one of the most obvious is to have a true professional create a personally branded headshot for you. Employers and hiring managers know professional quality when they see it, and a good professional headshot photographer will have the lighting equipment and coaching skills to make you look your best.

You simply can’t achieve this using your phone, a friend and a brick wall. Even intermediate hobbyist photographers with a quality DSLR will almost certainly lack the skills and abilities required to create a great headshot. “There’s a lot more to this headshot stuff than I thought there was!” — This is one of the most frequent comments I get from my clients as they’re leaving the studio after their shoot.

I spent two years as a professional photographer before I realized how much I didn’t know about headshots. It took me another two years to get competent at it after seeking out and training with some of the best in the business, and I’ve never stopped learning and adjusting my process to make it the best it can be.

4 – This is no time for DIY

I started to touch on this in #3 above, but it bears repeating – you really need a professional skilled and versed in the art of headshots to handle this for you. I would even go as far as to say that many professional photographers that might be very good at portraits, landscape photography or many other niches are NOT always a good choice for headshots. Headshots require special techniques specific to lighting, posing and coaching that can only be achieved through targeted skills development and LOTS of practice.

Check out your photographer’s headshot portfolio for quality and consistency before you decide. It should have a repeatable and cohesive style as you look through the images. You should see flattering poses and genuine facial expressions that convey confidence, power, and friendliness. If you don’t, move on and look for another photographer – they probably aren’t practiced enough in this niche to produce the best results for their clients.

Keep an eye out for my next article, ‘How to Choose a Headshot Photographer’. I’ll be getting into a lot more detail on this topic along with a few good sample shots.

5 – You Have a Human Face

Let’s face it (no pun intended) – most of us don’t like our picture being taken when it’s up close and personal. Headshots certainly fall into this category. However, getting a professional headshot done every year or two creates a personal visual history for us, our friends and family to cherish for the rest of our lives (and sometimes beyond).

So in closing, if you have a human face then go get it photographed! You’ll be glad that you did if you do a good job selecting your photographer. If in doubt, please do reach out and I’d be happy to help guide you to a great photographer in your area – even if it isn’t me. I’m part of a loose network of highly skilled headshot photographers which cover the globe, and I can help connect you with the right photographer in your area at no charge.