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Investing in Your Image is Investing in Your Career

Have you ever convinced yourself to buy something by arguing that “it’s an investment piece?” “Black Louboutin’s will never go out of style… they must be worth the $500!“

We’ve probably argued this with expensive purses, technology and work attire. The truth is that they can definitely be considered investments – in you and your career!

Your image is an important part of how seriously you are taken in the business world but do we make sure our image is in tip-top shape everywhere? Sometimes we forget about another professional space where we may get even more attention, the internet. Even worse, our image is all we have on the web! If we aren’t projecting a good one then we’re probably being overlooked.
Be honest; does your LinkedIn profile have a photograph? Or are you one of those people who chooses (or can’t be bothered) to not to upload an image? If you opt out of including a headshot, the message you are sending to the professional world is not a good one. It is not a beauty contest, but more of a way for you to be identified, as well as for others to check out your professional persona.
We’ve all heard the phrase “a picture is worth a thousand words,” but some of us don’t consider it when choosing a photograph. For example, it should not be a photo from your best friend’s wedding that visibly shows your hand being cropped out of a champagne toast shot. Another thing I see often are photographs of couples. This is 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 with 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.
Here are some tips for your professional photos regarding clothing, makeup, and jewelry. Keep in mind your attire should match your industry.
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 of 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.

  • CHEEKS:
 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. 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.

Jewelry

  • 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.

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 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!
If you’ve ever convinced yourself to buy expensive clothing or technology, all in the name of your career, then a professional photograph should be a no-brainer. Be a model for a day and let your professional demeanor and hard work show through the great image you can send out. The web’s a big place, don’t let yourself get overlooked!

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Caroline Dowd - Higgins

Carolyn Dowd- Higgins has over a decade of career and professional development experience, Caroline authored the book and maintains the blog: This Is Not the Career I Ordered® which showcases her savvy professional development advice and women who are thriving after a career transition or reinvention. She maintains a career and executive coaching practice and speaks nationally on professional development topics specializing in the success of individuals in the workforce. www.carolinedowdhiggins.com.