A Professional Photo is an Investment in Your Career

 In Career Tips

A Professional Photo is an Investment in Your CareerBe honest, does your LinkedIn profile have a photo or are you one of those people who chose not to upload an image? The message you are sending to the professional world is not a good one if you opted out of including a head shot. It’s not a beauty contest but a way for you to be identified and for others to check out your professional persona.

It’s true a picture is worth a thousand words so your photo should not be a candid from your best friend’s wedding where you cropped out the champagne glass you were holding during the toast. I have actually seen shots of couples on individual LinkedIn profiles. That’s a major faux pas if you are looking to get hired or advance your career.  Keep the couple shots on the wall in your home. Employers are only interested in you, not your significant other.

A lot of people panic when contemplating getting their photos taken. It’s important to find a photographer with whom you feel comfortable and can relax during the shoot. While you don’t need to spend an arm and a leg, investing in a professional photographer will give you visibly better results than having a friend photograph you with their iPhone.

Your professional shot will come in handy for LinkedIn and other social media sites and can also be used on your organization’s website if applicable. You will find countless ways to use your professional photo so consider this as an investment in your career.

Keeping your photo current is essential since hairstyles, hair color, and age changes your appearance. If your photo still looks like you (be honest!) then you can keep it around for a few years but typically you should consider a new shot every 2 years or sooner with dramatic appearance changes.

Here are some tips for your professional photos regarding clothing, make up, and jewelry. Keep in mind your attire should match your industry. Most photographers will encourage you to change your wardrobe during the shoot so go ahead and have a casual shot taken that you can use for your personal needs in addition to a more formal career shot.

What to Wear

  • Wear clothes that are comfortable and well-fitting that make you look and feel great
  • Turtlenecks are almost always a bad idea since they crowd the face
  • Clothes should be neatly pressed or fresh looking
  • Avoid busy patterns and large lines/stripes
  • Choose colors you wear well that accentuate your eye color and skin tone
  • Different necklines will change the shape of your face. Bring a variety different shirts/blouses to see what works best

Make-up/Hair for Women

  • Even if you prefer a more natural look – you need some makeup to allow your face to pop in the photo
  • EYES:
 Well-groomed eyebrows are a must. Enhance eyelashes with black mascara. Dark brown eyeliner is a natural alternative to heavy black eyeliner and compliments all eye shadows.
 Don’t be afraid to add a little color on the apples of the cheekbones. It will really brighten up the appearance of the face.
  • FACE:
Use both SPF-free moisturizer and foundation to prevent reflection and to enhance skin’s natural glow. Use a translucent powder to set.
  • LIPS:
Lips are best in reds, berries, and browns. No frosty pink. Glosses in any berry color work well. Even if you never wear lipstick, a little color will really make your smile stand out. Take if from this Diva – your lips are an essential tool for effective communication.
  • If getting a haircut or new hair style, make your appointment at least 2 weeks prior to your portrait session so you feel comfortable with your hair.


  • Keep jewelry simple – small is better, even with the new bold styles
  • Avoid jewelry that would distract from your face or that looks dated
  • The picture is about your face not your jewelry
  • Be prepared to remove facial piercings or multiple ear piercings unless this acceptable in your industry

I just had my new photos taken and really enjoy working with Michelle Richardson at Richardson Studio She puts me at ease, makes the shoot fun, and has a lot of great ideas for poses and styles that suit my specific professional needs. You will see me unveil a variety of new shots that Michelle took (including this one!) on my blog during the coming weeks.

Do your research to find the best fit for you since photography is an investment in your professional future. Ask for examples of their work and call references to learn about what to expect on the shoot. Since digital images are the norm, ask to see some of the shots during the shoot so you can adjust your smile or pose as need be before the session is over.

Practice your smile and poses in the mirror in the privacy of your own home before the shoot so you become comfortable and relaxed. You want your photos to really look like the authentic you so enjoy the process and smile!

With over a decade of career and professional development coaching experience, Caroline Dowd-Higgins has a desire to empower and energize people to achieve their personal goals.  Her training style is engaging, high energy, and positive with a focus on unlocking the self-advocate within each of us.  Read more from Caroline at carolinedowdhiggins.com.

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