One of the best ways to personalise your CV and LinkedIn profile is by adding a photograph. Think of it this way: the text on your CV are straight facts about your professional career, but the right photo can help tell a more well-rounded story and show potential employers a bit more about your personality.
So if you’ve found yourself asking, “Should your CV have a photo?”, the answer is yes, particularly if you’re applying in creative fields or it’s customary in the country you’re applying in. It’s also a great way to build your personal brand. But if you’ve ever tried taking a CV-worthy picture without a bit of prep first, you’ll know how hard it is to fake that ‘professional headshot’ look.
But you don’t need to employ a photographer to get a great, CV-worthy picture; the right selfie can work just as well if you know the tips and tricks to make it look professional and polished. We asked some of staff at Smart Works – a charity that provides interview clothes, styling advice and training to out-of-work women on low incomes – to provide tips for capturing the perfect, professional selfie.
Follow these tips from the fab ladies of Smart Works and you, too, can have a professional portrait to go with that stellar CV.
How do you take a photo for a CV?
Lighting is one of the main things you’d be paying for with a professional headshot – and it’s the most likely to let down a DIY effort. As the great Janice Dickinson told us many times on Top Model, to take a great picture one must “find the light and bathe in it.” Natural light is the best, so position yourself close to your largest available window so that the light streams directly onto your face, rather than standing with the light behind you. You want the light to catch your cheek and brow bones – but not from fully sideways-on as this will cast unwanted shadows around your nose, mouth and eyes. – Verity Messett, Volunteer Stylist, Smart Works
What clothes should I wear for my CV photo?
As this is for use in a CV or online profile like LinkedIn, you want to keep it simple and professional. The idea is for whoever is looking at you to be looking at you, not distracted by your outfit. Think a black, navy, or white top and simple accessories; this isn’t the time to show off your new 5-inch dangling earrings. Stay away from busy patterns; solids are always better for a headshot. – Amy Stevens, Volunteer Stylist, Smart Works
What should my hair and make-up be like for a CV photo?
The point of a professional selfie is to show off your face, so make sure you have your hair swept away from it, rather than hanging over your cheeks or eyes. When it comes to makeup, less is more. While your new turquoise eyeliner is fabulous for a Friday night out with the girls, it’s not the ideal choice for this occasion. Once you’re happy, take your selfie straight away – this is when it’ll look freshest, with no mascara smudges or cracking foundation. Try taking your selfies first-thing in the morning to ensure you are at your most presentable! – Adonica Simmons, Volunteer Stylist, Smart Works
What photo should I put on my CV?
Ask yourself: what am I trying to convey to a potential employer? Credibility? Or that you’re a really nice person? Both? Whatever it is, you’ll want to ensure your expression suits the objective. And be sure to take stock of your various expressions. Some people can look bored or angry when they don’t smile, while others can convey seriousness or stability. Don’t force it: experiment in front of a mirror to see what looks the most natural. If you’re struggling to assess your expressions yourself, ask a friend or family member who knows you well to give their honest feedback. Other tips: don’t pout or try to appear goofy or funny; keep it relaxed. – Robina Brennan, office manager at Smart Works
Should I use filters for my CV photo?
The last thing you want is a potential employer not recognising you at the interview because you’ve added four filters and a blur effect. While filters are a lot of fun, they do tend to overemphasise certain elements of a picture and can often look fake. It’s better to fiddle around with the colour and light rather than apply a filter – though the one exception is a black and white filter if you decide you’d rather not post a colour photograph. Let’s be honest, there’s nothing more flattering than a B&W filter! – Samantha Jones, Office Manager, Smart Works
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