A 2005 study by Princeton psychologist Alexander Todorov found that people make snap judgments (impressions) about a person within a tenth of a second of viewing a photograph of their face.
Participants were shown photographs of opposing political candidates and asked them to choose the candidate they felt were more competent based on 1/10 of a second exposure to a photograph of their headshot. The result was that 68.6% of what was predicted matched the winner of the political race. Participants were screened for prior recognition of the candidates ensuring unbiased results.
Combine that with a 2016 study done by CareerBuilder.com that found:
- 60% of employers use social media to research job candidates.
- 59% of HR professional use search engines to research candidates.
And we’ve established that in today’s internet age, people are searching for you and judging you based on what they’re finding. Before you lose all hope, throw your laptop into the river and go full-on Luddite you might want to consider a professional headshot.
A professional headshot is a photograph that is specifically designed to allow you to control what people see when they go searching. A well-done professional headshot can take that 1/10th of a second and zap positive adjectives like: confident, friendly, honest or approachable in people’s brains before they know what hit them.
The same Careerbuilder.com study found that the 2.000-plus hiring managers and human resources professionals surveyed weren’t intentionally looking for negatives in a candidate and, in fact, 60% of those surveyed are “looking for information that supports their qualifications for the job.”
They’re looking to get a positive impression from what they find. GIVE THEM WHAT THEY WANT!
Is it an oversimplification to say that a professional headshot is the cure-all? Absolutely. But, if you prescribe to the old adage that a picture is worth a thousand words than a pretty solid argument could be made that it’s time to upgrade your Linkedin profile pic from the selfie you took in Cancun to a professional headshot. Sure there’s probably a few careers where the mai tai in your hand gives off the fun party guy/ gal vibe you’re looking for (cruise ship entertainer, DJ, jet ski rentals…?), but for most people a slightly more professional appearance will go a long way towards making the right first impression
Put yourself in the shoes of the searcher. Let’s say you’re looking for a chiropractor. You fire up Google and search “chiropractors near me.” You head to the “About” section of the top website’s shown in your search results and without much thought you’re eliminating possible candidates for your business; too stern, weird mustache, etc. Eventually you pick one. Whether your final decision came down to their credentials or the positive vibe you got, it’s impossible to ignore the influence of their headshot on your choice.
A split second is all it takes for someone to decide to book you, hire you – choose you. A professional headshot is a pretty powerful weapon to wield in the war against snap judgments. At the very least you’ll like like you cared enough to have one taken and that’s gotta count for something, right?