According to a 2006 study by Alex Todorov and Janine Willis of Princeton University, humans draw conclusions about attractiveness and trustworthiness of our fellow humans in 1/10th of a second by looking at the face alone. It may not be fair, but it’s reality. This study was done a good while back. Imagine the implications of looking at someone’s headshot in today’s world! Headshots are everywhere. LinkedIn headshots, Facebook profile photos, staff headshots, email signatures, Actor’s Comp Cards, blogs, Skype, Twitter, Instagram, the list goes on and on. Your headshot IS your first impression. Would you go on an interview, or to work in your in your swimsuit, college hoodie, favorite Hawaiian shirt or your old button down that is worn out with a saggy collar? In most cases, you wouldn’t, but yet I see people doing this every day via their headshot.

Today, I believe most people see the value of having their photo up instead of using an avatar, but they struggle to see the value of having a headshot taken by a professional. There is a drastic difference in a using a selfie, snapshot from vacation, a photo your sister took with her new point and shoot, and especially photos where ex’s have been cropped out of the photo. While these are all fun photos to have laying around somewhere, they are not the tool you need to show your confidence and they certainly don’t show any credibility for the workplace or to a casting agent.

Here are some before and after’s that I’ve done with a few of my clients on LinkedIn. None of these people had horrible photos of themselves, necessarily. Their before profiles were decent. They may have gotten “likes” by peers and friends when they uploaded. What they lacked was the ability convey leadership, power, credibility. Three of these people are business owners. One is a nationally recognized award winning educator, one is a CFO. These are the movers and shakers in our world. They are the heavy hitters and achievers and their after headshots now convey that to everyone else in those 1/10th of a second judgements. When was the last time you saw an ad for a job or a promotion or for a part or advertisement you’d love to land seeking a decent worker; a mediocre actor? It’s a simple fix to ensure you are not assumed to be one. Fair or not, we all do it everyday when we scroll through the noise of our digital age. When you invest in a Professional headshot, you stop the scroll and you make a strong first impression.

In the Princeton study, it references why our brains make judgements so quickly. Some of it has to do with symmetry and proportions of the human face. Why we can’t change the way we look without going to extreme measures like plastic surgery, a Professional Photographer who specializes in headshots in particular will be able to assess your features and find the best angles that are your most flattering and pleasing. When you are searching for a Professional Photographer, look for one who is trained to coach you, not just take your photo with nice lighting. Headshots are tedious work. A strong attention to detail should be a requirement the person behind the camera has in his/her skillset. Jawlines, eye size differences, necklines of various blouses and tops, jewelry, glasses glare, dry lips, even nose hair problems are just some of the things that should be taken into consideration at each click of the shutter.

As this year comes to an end and we all make our New Year’s Resolutions, consider adding scheduling a “Professional Headshot” session to your list. It’s worth the money spent and you will be surprised at all the uses you will have for it. What does your current headshot say about you?