I know what you’re thinking – does that professional headshot come with a winning lottery ticket and a bag of magic beans? Believe me, if it did, I’d get in line. No magic beans here, folks, but stick with me if you’ve got the career path blahs. This isn’t just all about headshots – it’s about making them work for you.
Today’s hectic schedules mean we want value added to our purchases, and professional photography is an investment of both time and money. I want to help my clients get the most out of their portrait work. In this case, a business headshot, I am going to pull from my many years of teaching business and professional communication at a local university.
My most successful students were the ones who maximized a trigger event, a jumping off point, to create positive progress toward a goal. Updating your headshot can be just the sort of thing to propel your career forward.
First, let’s talk about the importance of a great headshot. Professional photographers make it sound like a well-lit, head and shoulders shot is all you need to get the job and the account. It’s not that easy, but do you know anyone who has ever not gotten the job because they had a great headshot?
“We don’t want them. They look way too confident and organized and able to get the job done” said no one ever.
Think about it. What’s the first thing you look for when you want to hire someone or make an appointment with a person you don’t know? You go online and try to see what they look like, right? For me, if their profile shot is one of those big-eyed selfies they took in their car on a good hair day or a picture of their dog, I’m apt to keep looking for other candidates.
Business experts suggest updating your headshot every two years so your image actually looks like the current version of you. Ask yourself – could a prospective employer or new client pick you out of a crowd? If the answer is no, it’s time for a new headshot.
What if this time, instead of having your friend take the headshot with your iPhone, you invest in a great professional headshot? Will it make a difference to your career? Again, the experts say yes. A striking, polished, professionally done headshot says you are organized, confident, and serious about making a contribution to your industry.
If you are at the top of your career game and everyone is banging on your door to work with you, a new headshot adds a little update, a little boost to your already strong online presence.
But what if you’re not enjoying a rip roaring career? Can a professional headshot help you refocus and declutter your path to success? Can it assist your shift to a new industry? Will it help you leap off the cliff and start your own business?
A professional headshot can be a vital part of the action plan you devise to create the career you desire, what I like to call the trigger event that gets you up and moving forward.
Now let’s get to the nitty gritty.
It’s decision time.
“It is in your moments of decision that your destiny is shaped.” – Tony Robbins.
If you add the power of making a decision to change your career with a solid plan and the willingness to work your butt off to make it all happen then you will likely create the career you desire.
The following four steps are based on an exercise I used to do with students. The students who jumped into the spirit of the questions saw tremendous shifts in their goal setting and the actions they were willing to take to get themselves motivated and moving.
There are three main goals: Create clear descriptions of what you want, realize where you need to act to move ahead, and determine what aspects of your life need to be kicked to the curb.
Rules: Have fun. Be as detailed as you want. Being realistic is not essential – some of the wildest ideas are the ones that have changed the world. There is no time limit, there is no deadline. You do not need to show your ideas to anyone else and there will not be a quiz.
Step One: Do a Career Reality Check
Think about your current career and how you feel at the end of the day. Get that image in your mind. If your job was a person, would you call them up so you could hang out? Or would you avoid making eye contact and block them from your Facebook profile?
Be honest with yourself.
If your answer is that you wake up every day eager to go to work and just love what you do, awesome! Fist bump and hurray.
- Check your current professional headshot, if you need an update, call my studio and make an appointment. I can’t wait to hear about what you do!
If your answer is any less than “I love my job” it’s time to think about making some positive shifts. If you are bored, stuck, overworked, underpaid, and ready to scream, it’s time to think about making some changes.
Focus: List the career goals you want to achieve in the next two years. Don’t overthink it, just write it down. You might be able to brain dump your ideas in less than a minute or maybe it takes a few days. Remember, you can be utterly realistic in your goals or completely over the top.
Declutter: List the habits holding you back. Note: this doesn’t mean the other people’s habits that are driving you nuts. We all arrived where we are because of decisions we made along the way. The little decisions that seemed pretty harmless at the time tend to turn into the bad habits that sabotage our life and career goals. This is about the habits you can shift – like hitting the snooze button, saying yes to all the stuff you don’t want to do, never making time to sign up for that class you really want to take… You get my point.
Step Two: Build Two Plans
Our little decisions add up. They are either moving you toward your goals or not. I have a quote posted in my office that reads “Ask yourself if what you’re doing today is getting you closer to where you want to be tomorrow.”
The first plan you will create is about accomplishing those goals you want to tackle in the next two years. What can you do to move toward where you want to be? I’m talking steps, To Do lists, simple changes or maybe even big game changing actions. It all counts.
And just in case you’re like me and at this point you break out into hives, I offer the wise words of the brilliant comedian, George Carlin: “Always do whatever’s next.” When I’m overwhelmed and ready to freak out, I rely on Carlin – what’s the logical next step? And it never hurts to remind myself to breathe in and breathe out, too.
Focus: Write your plan down. Create small, reachable steps and a timeline for the career goals you listed in step #1. This can be as detailed and as monumental as you want. It’s up to you. The point is building a plan that feels doable and positive. Most important, this plan must be a set of steps that you want to take and that energizes your commitment to yourself and your career.*
The second plan you will create is all about streamlining your life of those things you can control but don’t. That’s right – time to take responsibility for you. What is holding you back that you are ready to let go? What rotten little habit, if given up, would make the biggest difference in changing your career?
How are you going to make this happen? Bad habits aren’t easy to break. Prioritize those monsters and believe in yourself.
Declutter: Build a plan that will help you tame the obstacles and see your way to success. You know what works for you – write it down and do it.
*If the idea of creating a plan for change is uncomfortable for you or if you have no idea what to do to get moving, I have two suggestions:
First, you may need a life coach. Life coaches help us find the answers we already have inside – which is fantastic because sometimes those interior answers are pretty stinking fuzzy and hard to hear. Sure you can struggle along yourself, read a bunch of self-help books, or you can just expedite things and work with a great life coach. Here’s a link to my favorite life coach, Toni Wagner. Tell her I sent you.
Second, doing too much yourself is a bad habit. You may need to start delegating some work so you can focus on what you love to do. For example, if you spend hours on your books when you really want to be working with clients, hire someone to do that task. It will be worth it. If you are in the Greater Bangor area, Amy Lane will take care of you. You’ll love Amy, she’s awesome.
I know, these first two steps may have seemed like a lot of work. Life, my friend, is a lot of work.
It goes without saying, but I’m going to say it anyway – you have to actually put your plans into action. Knowing what to do isn’t the same as actually doing it. Get busy.
For students, I created check in dates for them to sit down with me and share their progress and ask questions. I was able to keep them encouraged or bump them back on track. If you need a sounding board or someone to hold you to your word, do not hesitate to build that into your plan. This is an ongoing exercise – do what it takes to help you succeed.
Step Three: Get the Professional Headshots
If you have accomplished the first two parts of this process, you probably have found a whole new you that is pretty exciting. If you’re ready to jump in and take yourself seriously, make sure other people do, too. Wrap all this progress and clarity in a great new professional headshot, one that makes you look and feel like a million bucks.
Before you book your headshot session, take a minute.
Focus: Get serious about the professional image you want to portray as you reach and stretch for your new career goals. Write this image down. Then write it again. Get it solid and clear in your mind and on paper. Post it everywhere so you can see it every day. Burn it into your brain. Have fun with this. And take it seriously. This is you we’re talking about.
“I am confident and good at what I do. People love to work with me. I help others succeed. I make a difference. I handle conflict with ease. I am pleasant, good looking, and people get in bidding wars to work with me. I am rolling in clients and more cash comes in every single day.”
Why is this important to do before you go get a headshot? Good question. You need to know what you want those headshots to say, what you want your images to tell other people about you, what you do, your experience, how you can help solve their problems.
Here’s the thing – a professional headshot should represent you, your industry, and give potential clients and associates a positive first impression. You are going to need a professional photographer that wants to listen to your ideas and help you create exactly the headshot you have in mind. Your photographer should help you get the images you want – not just do the same headshot they do for all their clients.
When you call Joles Photography about professional headshots, I am going to ask you questions, listen to your ideas, and help you make decisions so that you are excited about showing off your new headshots. I try to capture your inner energy, and I like to use natural poses. This means that potential clients already have a sense of your confidence and personality. As you can imagine, at my studio headshot sessions are fun. I also like to give clients several digital images, more than the typical one or two, so they have a fair amount of variety to use across their web presence.
Declutter: This is an easy one and you can scratch “get a professional headshot” off your To Do list: book an appointment for a headshot session, show up, and update your headshot.
This is your chance to do some comparison shopping, check out some photographers, and decide what works for you. If you think I’m a good fit for you and want to know more, call me. I’d love to hear more about you and your career and help you be successful.
Step Four: Use your new headshots!
If you have made it this far in the process, and you are implementing your career plan and dropping those useless habits, you are amazing! Congratulations! I’m betting you’ve already made positive changes and progress toward the goals you’ve set for the next two years.
The next step, super easy but important, is using your headshots. Update your online profile photos and anywhere you use a headshot with your new professional images. This will take just a few minutes, and people are going to notice.
Focus: Get a list of all the places you use a headshot, profile image, or a print image. Start doing those updates and replace your existing images with your new professional headshots.
Can you keep that cell phone image of your cat as your personal Facebook profile? I guess so, but do you really want to?
Declutter: As you work through your online professional images, see if there are any sites that no longer serve your goals. Can you downsize some commitments or perhaps join a networking group that better serves your ambitions? Also, take a look at personal pages, such as Facebook, and see if the images there support your new direction and endeavors. Make the changes you are ready to make.
And that’s how a new professional headshot can help you focus and declutter your career in 4 easy steps.
A closing note on decluttering and refocusing your career – please remember this is an organic process that shifts and changes. Periodic check ins with your goals and plan are essential to make sure you are on track, goals are fine-tuned, and action steps are being taken. Little things have power, and so do big things; it’s all about progress and every step ahead counts.
Thank you for making it to the end of this post. I know it became more of a chapter than a blog post, but sometimes that happens and the old lecturer inside of me, the person who loved to help students step into the big world, takes over and has a lot to say.
I can help you to create your collection of professional headshots.