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Add a Friendly, Professional Photo

Home » Become a Virtual Assistant » Anatomy of a Winning Resume » Add a Friendly, Professional Photo
Source: Canva

After taking care of all the vital elements and sections of your resume we’ve talked about in the previous lessons, it’s time to think about some important details, as well. Your photo is one of them.

Yeah, yeah, we know! You just don’t feel that you’re photogenic. Or, you’ve been meaning to get your hair cut, but you simply haven’t had time. Or, you haven’t put makeup on, or you haven’t brushed your hair, or you just don’t feel like having your photo taken.

We all have a million reasons for not wanting to have our photo taken.

But, it’s important!

We all enjoy putting a name to a face. And being able to see a face really allows an employer to feel more trusting.

Truth be told, there are many websites and HR authorities that advise you against putting your photo in your resume. They are giving arguments such as: that space could be used to explain your skills, or how you look isn’t relevant for the job you are applying for.

Yes. That might be true for those people that haven’t chosen the online career.

It is highly likely that your employer will live all the way across the globe. You will probably never meet them in person. Therefore, your photo is the only way for them to see your face.

It would be a bit weird paying somebody or working for somebody for years and never actually see them, wouldn’t it?

So, let your photo be your way of introducing yourself to your future employer. That will be their image of you in their heads when they think about you. Choose your photo wisely.

Remember that it is your responsibility NOT to look dull in your resume photo. How can you expect anybody to take a look at you twice if you don’t gather up the decency to make a genuine effort to take a good photo.

Of course, there are the appropriate resume photos and there is the other kind. Here are some helpful guidelines on how to pick the best possible photo for your resume.

Be the Only One in Your Photo

Employers are considering hiring YOU! Not you and your family. Not you and your buddies. And definitely not Mr. Whiskers!

So, don’t do something like this:

group picture
Source: Canva

Your employer will most likely be thinking: “Okay. You all look like a very nice and professional bunch of people, but who are we hiring here?”

Or even worse, something like this:

woman taking selfie with her dog
Source: Canva

Again, everybody will agree that Fido looks just precious, but not many employers will think that Fido has all the necessary qualifications needed for the job. Oh, he’s not the one applying for the position? But, WHY is he in the photo then?

Got it?

You are the one who wants to be hired for the job. Thus, make sure you’re the only person in that photo.

However, it won’t help if you, for instance, appear in your brand new cowboy outfit. So, keep reading and learning what else matters in your resume photo.

Dress Professionally

Before taking your photo, dress as if you would dress for a day in the office. NO excessive jewellery and makeup for the ladies and no suspicious facial hair and extreme haircuts for the men. In short, dress smartly.

Nice, you got it. How about this one, then? It’s a nice, clean shirt, just your style, so it’s perfect for you, isn’t it?

man wearing a shade
Source: Canva

Hmm, are you sure you got it right?

Is this how we should expect you to come to work in the office every day? It might work. If the office needed a lumberjack.

Here’s the secret. Avoid patterns because solid colours look best and the most professional in the photos. Check this out.

man wearing polo shirt smiling
Source: Pixabay

What’s the effect of dressing like this in your resume photo? Well, your employers might even forget your face, because they will be too busy trying to figure out what that pattern IS all about.

Is that what you want to achieve? We doubt it. Therefore, dress impeccably for that photo since it almost equals dressing for a job interview. OK?

Fine. Now you know how to dress properly, but aren’t sure about the right facial expression. Should you smile? Or perhaps be deadly serious since it’s your professional photo and professionals are extremely serious people, aren’t they? Let’s see. Here’s the perfect solution.

Have a Nice, Natural Smile

There are smiles and then there are smiles. You don’t want to look like you are borderline hysterical, or completely immature, do you?

Is this what we mean when we advise you to smile?

adult man with a big smile
Source: Pixabay

Certainly NOT.

While the light, background and the outfit are all good, the expression on this man’s face is a different matter. It doesn’t seem professional. This is not a smile, it is a laugh. It is definitely over the top.

So, we said SMILE, not laugh! Feel the difference? Sure you do.

Great! Here’s your highly suitable photo – you’re professionally dressed, with a modest smile on your face. But, the longer you’re looking at it, the more details you find you’d like to change.

Well, that’s a no-brainer these days since there are tons of free, easy-to-use photo editing programmes on the Internet. Using one of them to perfect your photo can do no harm, right? Actually, you must be extra careful with photo editing. What’s more, avoid overdoing it. Read on to find out why.

No Excessive Editing

There is a distinctive difference between a glamour shot and the resume photo. The first one belongs to a trend that died out during the 80s and the second one is the photo that should give your employer the idea about how you look.

You are NOT having your photo taken for a fashion magazine, and you are NOT trying to become the next Instagram sensation. So, stay clear from excessive use of filters and editing tools.

This is what we mean by that:

adult man headshot
Source: Pixabay

This photo would make your employer wonder if you were a real person or a cartoon character. Thus, it’s better to stay as natural as possible. However, that’s not all you should take care of when it comes to making your outstanding resume photo. Here come more doubts.

What should be seen in that photo? Just your head? Or the whole body? Or something else? The straightforward answer follows.

Make It a Headshot

It is great if you are an outdoorsy type who loves hiking and spending time with your friends. Perhaps, your dearest photos show you on the mountain tops. That’s just amazing, but that part of your personality is NOT the first thing you need to show to your potential employer.

What is the effect of this type of photo?

Source: Canva

Here is an adventure-loving, outdoorsy type who enjoys nature and sports. Let’s make him our virtual assistant! – said NO online business owner ever. Leave your passions and your hobbies for your free time.

An online employer needs a reliable and professional virtual assistant and not a mountaineer, right? So, show them you are exactly what they need and want!

Moreover, do NOT include absolutely anything in your resume that’s irrelevant to the job you’re applying for. What you can do for the company is what your employer cares about, not your free time activities. So, the photo is no exception.

Your headshot needs to be taken in a way that you take up at least 60% of the photo. Crop it just above your shoulders and a little bit over your head. Make sure it is properly taken with:

  • enough light,
  • NO blurry spots, and
  • with a decentneutral background.

Huh! A whole bunch of details that could make or break the first impression your potential employer gets by looking at your resume photo. You just don’t feel capable for doing this the right way? No worries! There’s always a solution.

Hire a Professional

There are numerous reasons why you may think you cannot create the right photo for your resume. Perhaps you don’t have proper equipment, idea or know-how? At least you’re aware of it so you can find another solution.

There’s always a possibility to hire a professional photographer to take your photo, right? You just need to explain what you want in detail and a pro will make a great headshot of you. As simple as that!

Now, let’s illustrate what we’ve been talking about with some great examples.

Examples of Great Resume Photos

It’s time to analyse a few exemplary resume photos and learn from them, too. Let’s waste no more time!

Example #1

This photo is very nicely done. The person in it is well-groomed and he has chosen a formal attire that makes him look professional. The smile is moderate and friendly. Looks like somebody that you would like having around your office.

Source: Pixabay

Example #2

A nice and cheerful smile and a professional appearance make this a very good resume photo. The background is well chosen and the photograph has good light.

Source: Canva

Example #3

It’s all there: formal attire, neutral background and well-lit photo. Direct and friendly expression is definitely there although it could benefit from a little bit more smiling. Still, this makes a nice resume photo.

Source: Pixabay

Do your best to make a photo that presents you as a friendly and confident professional. Make people look at your photo and think: “Sure. I wouldn’t mind sharing my office with that person!”

Try achieving it by following the tips and examining the good and the bad examples of resume photos presented in this lesson. It is most likely that you’ll be able to make a decent photo yourself. However, if you doubt your abilities to take awesome headshots, just pay a visit to a professional and get it done.

Shall we now summarise all the learnings from this lesson about a perfect resume photo? Let’s do it!

In Summary

So far, you’ve certainly realised that your professional photo CANNOT be just ANY photo. It is who you ARE online. It is how your employer and your coworker see you and remember you.

Therefore, make sure you follow these tips:

 You should be the only person in the photo.

✔ Your photo should be a headshot.

✔ Dress professionally.

✔ ‘Wear’ a natural smile.

✔ Crop it neatly, so that you take up to 60% of the photo.

✔ If in doubt – hire a professional.

It’s definitely worth the effort since it can bring you closer to achieving your goal i.e. getting that online job you’ve applied for and finally start pursuing your online career.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What are acceptable resume photos?

a. A cropped out group photo with you in the middle

b. A spontaneous photo of you sipping your coffee

c. A professional looking portrait, purposefully made for a resume

2. Should you edit your photo?

a. Yes. You should crop it correctly and make sure it looks nice but natural.

b. No. Never. Don’t let them think you are trying too hard.

c. Yes, as much as possible. That’s your chance to show your creative side.

3. Is it OK to feature your pets and hobbies in your resume photos?

a. Yes. That shows your warm, personal side.

b. No. Your resume is about you and you alone.

c. Yes, but only if the hobby is somehow related to your job.

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