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8 things you need to know about professional headshots

When it comes to bagging the ideal job, first impressions are everything. 

Nowadays, candidates are expected to dazzle employers before they’ve even set foot in an interview room. Perfecting your CV and cover letters certainly helps, but you’ll need a professional headshot if you want to stand out in a sea of applications.

What is a professional headshot?

A professional headshot is a business-style photograph of a person, usually with the sole purpose of showing what they look like. It’s a type of portrait, normally just from the shoulders up, where the person is aware of the camera and is looking into the lens.

A headshot is a clear image of the applicant’s face, with no distracting background, shadows, or lighting. Most people give a slight smile with a relaxed, approachable expression for their headshots.

Why do you need a professional headshot?

Gone are the days when professional headshots were reserved for high-flying executives or those working in the acting or modelling industries.

With the rise of professional recruitment platforms like LinkedIn, an appealing business headshot could mean the difference between an interview invitation or the rejection pile.

Within business, a professional headshot immediately allows employers and recruiters to know you on a more personal level. Showing you have taken the time to invest in your professional image is also a plus for hirers.

It puts a friendly face to the name and the piles of CVs and cover letters employers have to wade through. When it comes to deciding on job shortlists, who are they more likely to remember – the faceless applicant, or the candidate with a fresh smile and clear image?

An image of yourself is often a requirement for many online business platforms and recruitment agencies. Instead of a badly cropped group photo or Instagram selfie, a professional headshot indicates you have considered your audience and are taking your job hunt seriously – a good start for your business profile.

What to wear for a professional headshot

Smiling cheerful young adult indian woman looking at camera

When choosing what to wear for a professional headshot, pick an outfit best reflecting your usual work attire.

This will, of course, vary between industries. Those in banking or law would opt for a suit, while people working in creative or digital roles may choose more relaxed clothing.

Whatever your preferred career path, make sure the clothing you wear in your professional headshot isn’t too distracting. Bold prints may stand out, but not for the right reasons.

On the other hand, most business photos are taken against a white background, so wearing white may mean you blend in too much.

Block colours and a shirt or top indicating your professionalism is your most successful bet.

How to take a professional headshot

There are many options when taking a professional headshot. You can hire a photographer to assist you or set up your own studio at home.

How to take a professional headshot at home

Most smartphones come with state-of-the-art cameras and editing software rivalling many photographers’ tech, making it possible to take professional headshots at home.

Firstly, ensure you pick a well-lit room. If you have a plain coloured wall, use this as the background. If not, you may want to consider purchasing seamless paper, which many photographers use.

Some people also use their home office as the background, so employers can picture them in a workplace setting. Just make sure to slightly blur it in the editing process, so it isn’t a distraction.

If the lighting isn’t great, small selfie lamps can help by illuminating the face. Find a comfortable side-on position on a stool or low-backed chair, before turning your face directly to the camera or phone.

Selfie stands can assist with keeping a phone stable and level, or you can ask a friend or relative to take the photo for you.

Lastly – remember to smile! A soft, warm smile is the best expression to have in a business headshot, clearly displaying your friendly and approachable attributes.

How to take a professional headshot for LinkedIn

The above advice applies when taking a professional headshot for LinkedIn. However, you may need to adjust the dimensions of your image before uploading. LinkedIn profile pictures appear in a circle frame and are required to be of a certain size.

You are able to zoom and crop your image on the website, so play around with the tools before sharing. The image will appear much smaller when users are scrolling through the news feed, so don’t sit too far away from the camera.

Where to find a professional headshot photographer

Young brunette woman photographer taking photo picture with camera indoors

Most professional headshot photographers work freelance, usually with their own studio and equipment. Searching for the right photographer can be tricky and competitive, so as a starting point, ask around and see who your friends, family, and nearby residents recommend.

Many photographers will advertise their services online, such as on Gumtree or Nextdoor. Enquire about their rates first and make sure the service includes photo touch-ups or a re-do if you are unhappy with the initial image.

How much do professional headshots cost?

This is largely dependent on the photographer – an established artist can charge much more for a headshot service, while others may be looking to build up their portfolio and offer a reduced price.

Request to see the photographer’s previous examples of professional headshots, if available, to determine their experience and how much you are willing to pay.

Overall, the price range varies greatly. You could pay as little as £30-40, while some studios charge well into the hundreds. It all depends on your budget.

A professional worker also needs the perfect place to rest their head. Pickard Properties specialises in homes for young professionals, with a number of lettings across the Leeds area and beyond.

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