This post is for the selfie-obsessed millennials, the camera shy boomers and everyone in between. Perhaps you are believer that hiding behind the cloak of an anonymous icon is better than mustering up the courage to book a photo shoot. Well, it’s probably no surprise that I’m here to persuade you otherwise.

On the other hand, you may be convinced that only you can take a flattering photo of yourself because you can fuss with the camera angle in selfie mode until you find that sweet spot that compliments your face. And best of all, no one is around to make you feel nervous or insecure about taking the time to get the best shot. I’m going to try to dismantle these thought distortions and unpack why it’s a good idea to invest in a professional headshot and a worthwhile exercise in building trust and self confidence.

  • Now, more than ever, we are relying on making first impressions online. In this time of virtual networking, it’s essential that your headshot is an accurate, flattering representation of you and reflects professionalism. This Forbes article tells us “you make your decision to trust someone within 100 milliseconds of seeing their face.”
  • People remember faces. If your LinkedIn profile has a blank spot instead of a picture, it’s more likely that people will not engage with you. It sends a message that your profile isn’t complete. In fact, there’s statistical evidence that LinkedIn members who include photos on their profiles, receive exponentially more engagement–21 times more views and 9 times more connection requests. Your profile picture brings credibility to your employment package and/or your brand. Bring everything you’ve got to the table–including your face. 
  • Professional equipment and experience will only enhance your best features. Once you see the difference that a DSLR camera, lenses and lighting will make, you will instantly feel more self-assured and excited about sharing your profile. Confidence begets confidence. Come out of that selfie hiding place and allow a true professional create a portrait of you that says more than “I’m having a good hair day.”
  • If you want to make a polished and professional impression don’t cut corners on the quality of the image. Authenticity matters. If you go the cheap route by cropping a family photo, you are projecting mediocrity. Take the time to show who you really are by making an effort. Using a professional photo shows that you are committed to quality and that you value yourself. It also shows that you are classy enough to acknowledge when certain tasks are outside your wheelhouse. Having the self awareness to hire a professional when it’s necessary is yet another indication that you care about your reputation. Your future employer will find that quality attractive and if you are self-employed, this shows that you have follow-through and good work ethic.

Whether you’re a first-time job seeker, looking to make a career change or self-employed, investing in a headshot will improve your personal brand 10-fold. Now that you’ve read through the advantages, here’s some more advice from three formidable Cape Cod leaders with marketing backgrounds:

“Entrepreneurs wear many hats. They have to be the CEO, the CFO, the marketing department and the brand ambassador. Part of creating credibility as a business owner and a brand is to present a professional image. A high-def, well-framed, expertly photographed headshot is an affordable investment in any brand’s image.” -Amanda “Kai” Kaiser, Program Director of EforAll Cape Cod

“A good headshot is important to help show your professionalism and build your personal brand but more importantly it is an opportunity to make an introduction. It’s said that impressions are formed after seeing a person’s face for less than one tenth of a second; that’s hardly enough time to blink! Relationships, both personal and professional are based on trust. If someone feels like they can relate to you before they even meet you, you are halfway down the path to forming an honest, respectful and trusted relationship. I think sometimes folks are hesitant to show who they really are in a headshot because are so focused on presenting what they assume to be the most professional version of themselves. The truth is, the more real and relatable your first impression is, the better.” -Liz DiGirolamo, Membership and Sales Manager, Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce

“Professional head shots are important for several reasons in my opinion they help promote a well-established and professional online presence, as well as helping an organization stand out. Additionally, I feel that professional head shots let employees know they are valued and an integral part of an organization.  The CIWB has made considerable strides in updating our marketing and online presence, it only made sense that this would include professional head shots, as this helps identify our organization as well as promote employees and their positions.” -Kara O’Donnell-Galvin, Executive Director of MassHire Cape & Islands Workforce Board