It’s 1 a.m. The whirring hum of your overheated laptop should be your sign to call it a night, almost as if saying “Go to bed! This job search stuff can wait until the morning.” But you’ve come so far — plugging away to create that striking resume, memorable portfolio, and charming cover letter. You lean back in your chair, exhale a sigh of relief, and tell yourself that you’re almost done. You finally have all the pieces to put together a Linkedin profile you can be proud of.

You begin to fill in your information when a looming sense of dread sets in. Shoot — a headshot. What to do, what to do?! You can’t just hit up the nearest photographer at this time of night. Not to mention, you need to start applying to jobs ASAP. This is a task you will have to do yourself. But how, you ask? With a few tips, tricks, and a handy-dandy selfie stick.

1. Dress to impress. 

The cute saying “Don’t judge a book by it’s cover?” Yeah, that no longer applies when it comes to the world of work. How you dress and present yourself has an enormous impact on whether or not you get the job, or in this case, even be considered for an interview. So, consider this: your profile photo will be the first online impression you make. Makes you want to proceed with caution, right? Thankfully, we’ve got some suggestions that will keep you from staring at your closet for the next hour:

  • Dress for your definition of success. A fulfilling career comes in all forms, so it’s important to dress according to the industry you’re passionate about. For example, sporting a suit might come off as overkill if you’re applying for a position in the video gaming industry. If you’re wondering what’s the norm for your type of industry, check out this useful guide published by Monster.
  • Keep it simple. Avoid distracting patterns, accessories, or makeup. You want to make sure the hiring manager keeps their focus on you, not the bright green blazer you’re wearing. Stick to solid colors and clean, flattering cuts.
  • Pick a palette. Speaking of colors, you might want to be selective about the types of color you wear. Often used for branding, color psychology analyzes how certain colors affect human behavior. According this survey, conservative colors like neutrals fared best in terms of hiring outcomes, whereas orange performed the worst. In addition, various colors carry certain associations, such as red and power or blue and teamwork. Also, think about your personal brand. Is there a specific color scheme you used in your portfolio or resume? If so, try to stick to that, or find a color that easily fits. This way, hiring managers can better connect the dots when remembering you as a candidate.​

2. Work your angles.

Remember when selfie sticks were a fad you rolled your eyes at but secretly bought off of Amazon? Boy, are we making them relevant again! Despite the name, selfie sticks are perfect for taking a photo without it looking like — well, a selfie. Use your selfie stick and pose in a natural way that accentuates your best features. Keep in mind, a typical headshot is taken from the chest on up. This is especially important for social media because the display can appear small on a timeline or profile. In other words, you want to make sure your face can be easily seen.

3. Don't do this ...

Unless you live in 2010 or want to give your hiring manager a good laugh, it's best to avoid mirror selfies. Ever see those compilations of mirror selfies gone wrong where there's something embarrassing in the background? Don't be a part of that list. Instead, opt for a selfie in an area with no distractions and plenty of natural light, like a blank wall near a window or outside against a building. You want your selfie to look as close to a professional headshot as possible, so it's important to scope out the right backdrop.

While we're on the topic of what not to do, here are some other selfie behaviors to steer clear of: 

  • Bold facial expressions. Save the silliness for Snapchat. 
  • Hand gestures. Peace signs are great, just not in a professional photo. 
  • Photos with other people. Hiring managers are busy people; don't make them play guess-who.

4. Phone-a-friend.

From relationships to self-control, we place an immense amount of value on the opinions of friends. They'll shower you with compliments, but won't hesitate to inform you if something looks far from flattering. In a situation like this, asking for some peer review could be crucial before posting that make-or-break selfie. While they're at it, they might also offer some constructive criticism or tips from their own experience. When in doubt, you could even ask them if they want to brush up on their photography skills and snap a pic for you. 

5. Make Your Edits.

The comforting thing about living in an era of technology, is that we can zap away that stray hair or blemish with photo editing tools. Even if you think your face is picture-perfect, the photo might need some adjustments in brightness or color balance. You should also consider if you need to crop or resize the photo depending on the social profile you are uploading to (Linkedin suggests your face take up at least 60 percent of the frame). Don't even know where to begin when it comes to editing? Use some of these helpful amateur tips. However, you want to avoid going overboard on editing your photo. An image that's over-edited might not even resemble what you look like in real life. You don't want to walk into an interview and confuse your hiring manager. Yikes. 

6. Grin and bear it.

In an interview with Wired, Yale experimental psychologist Marianne LaFrance discusses the power of a simple smile (like its ability to indicate someone's personality traits). So it's time to show those pearly whites. Put on your best, most genuine smile by engaging your eyes. By letting your single most powerful facial feature radiate, you'll come off as warm and inviting — and increase your chances of snagging an interview. 

Now that you've mastered the art of the professional selfie, charge forward and go get those jobs! Completing your personal brand with that winning headshot is like putting the cherry on top of all your skills and experience. Not to mention, you won't have to find yourself in a late-night photo predicament again. 

  1. college and career readiness
  2. interviewing

About The Author

Jordan Jones

Jordan Jones is a designer for Kuder. She develops social media content and designs layouts for web and print collateral. Jordan began her career at Kuder in 2016 as a marketing intern while completing her bachelor's degree in advertising at Iowa State University. By the time she graduat ... read more

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