Whether you like it or not, presentation matters to your career. Borrowing from the knowledge we already know from research, most recruiters scrutinize potential candidates on social media.

While business cards can help you project a professional image, in this digital era, most professional connections will first scope you online, for instance, through your LinkedIn profile, before conducting any business with you. So, your headshot can make or break your career. In this post, we will discuss how a professional headshot can catapult your career. But first, let’s cover the basics.

What is a Professional Headshot?

A professional headshot is an image of yourself that you use for work-related context, for instance, using it as your LinkedIn profile photo, on your email signatures, business website, article bylines, portfolio and other related professional engagements. Essentially, it let you display a certain image in the eyes of clients, colleagues, hiring managers, recruiting agencies and other people who are interested in your professional life.

How Can Professional Headshot helps You Get a Dream Job?

A professional headshot helps you project a sharp image in the eyes of potential clients. Irrespective of whether you just started your career or you are a well-established professional, you project an image that makes you look polished, confident, and capable.

When you talk of professional headshots, many think about having a decent quality photo that shows a pleasant facial expression. Without a doubt, all these are valid points, but having a professional headshot goes beyond this. It needs to be consistent and present it on the right places and in the right manner.

Potential employers want to have a clue about you, including what you look like and how you present yourself. For that reason, a successful headshot is your forward-looking statement. In other words, you should appear as if you are already successful in your field without trying it too much. The picture must communicate that you understand the business of your prospective employers, and you are ready for it.

You may want to downplay it as a minor issue and assume that your prospective employers will not dwell on pictures. But some pictures will raise questions about your suitability for a particular job. We are judgmental by nature, so as you upload that LinkedIn profile photo thing twice about how your target audience will perceive it.

Your professional headshot is usually the first point of contact with your client and employers. For instance, HR managers may find you on LinkedIn, then from their opinion of you based on your profile photo. This is also true for prospective clients who visit your website to learn more about you. So, if your social media and website your first impression to the world, why wouldn’t you want to put your best face forward?

Senior level employees are often the face of the company, so the headshots they use will project a certain image to clients. If a client sees a sloppily dressed president on the company’s website or social media, that client is most likely to develop a negative impression of the company.

Even if you are starting out on your career, the least you can do is to present an image that shows you are a professional. This makes people see you as a mature and capable person. I’m sure you have heard this cliche dress for the position you want, not the one you currently have. The same is true when it comes to using a headshot. Project an image of the job you aim for even if the one you currently have is nothing near to your dream job.

The key to having a professional headshot is to understand your industry or your target industry, the company and the position. For instance, if you are an IT engineer who targets to work for a reputable financial institution, then you will need to project a different image from an IT professional looking to work for a tech startup. Also, senior level position will most likely require you to dress sharply, project an image that you are confident and capable. These factors matter a lot when you want to get that dream job.

No employer will take you seriously if you are still stuck with blurry, unprofessional or downright unflattering photos. Even if your resume or LinkedIn profile talk much about your accomplishment, your LinkedIn profile photo still has to match the good CV. Today, an increasing number of employers are doing their recruitment entirely online. Even if they do face-to-face interviews, they will still screen your LinkedIn profile before inviting you for an interview.

In short, the headset you use should be guided by the audience you seek to communicate to. With that said, you shouldn’t go too far with professionalism. Sometimes, you also need to bring in your personality into the headshot. Your headshot can hint at what motivates or interest you. We would say, it is safe and advisable to have about three different styles of headshots: one business-casual, one corporate, and one personality-driven.

Take as many shots as you can to ensure you get the best headshot. You should be completely satisfied with what you have. If you have a new look or want to change career direction, you can consider refreshing your headshot to reflect the new person.

When you realize that your headshot is an important career tool, you will get the best return on investment by just optimizing your headshot for that dream job. You stand a best chance to get the dream job faster when you use a professional headshot than when you have none. The reward and the extra pay-check you get from your first few months in your dream job is worth way more than the cost of your headshot.

Irrespective of how far you can go to get that professional headshot, you should at the very least have a headshot. It is better to have a blurry or outdated headshot than to use a picture of an inanimate object or skip it altogether. No recruiter will want to engage someone who hides his or her identity. Fortunately, getting a professional headshot today is not a huge hassle, and in most cases, it is relatively inexpensive.

If you are not sure yet about getting a headshot, check this other article that will make you change your mind and give you some tips when doing your professional headshot.