They say we are neither as ugly as our passport photos, nor as handsome or beautiful as our mothers and grandmothers would like us to think. Whatever the case, although we know that photos are not everything in life, they are an important factor when looking for work, reflecting who we are and inspiring, or not, a company’s trust.

Here are a series of tips to help you get the most out of your photo:

Before the photo is taken

The best advice is that you take the photo (or better still, someone else takes it) without rushing, in a calm environment, without very bright lights. Appearing natural and smiling is the best way to assure your profile photo and CV find success.

Errors to avoid

The following errors are more common than you might think and do not help when trying to make that good first impression. Avoid photos:

With little or too much light, where it is difficult to make out the face.

That are unfocused or blurred. If the fault is slight, perhaps it won’t be noticed in a small size, but it is better not to take the risk.

That are edited from others where the background disturbs or which feature the shoulders of friends. No matter how beautiful you looked on your wedding day, leave these shots in the album.

Which are highly pixelated, where you have had to enlarge the image so much that even you don’t recognize yourself.

Taken using the camera’s flash: it will flatten the image to avoid shadow and create unwanted brightness on the face.

Which are completely in profile, taken from above or below. Remember that this is not a selfie and that taking photos in such a way will distort your image.

Taken in sunlight, which produces too much contrast; you will also probably wear a forced expression.

Where you are giving a talk, using a microphone, etc. You might be a great speaker, but we do not recommend this.

Where you appear with accessories, even though they might be connected to your work (a camera if you are a photographer, a computer if you are a programmer, or sat in a meeting room, etc.). You don’t need props to demonstrate your worthiness.

What should you do

Use a clear, clean and simple background. It does not have to be white, but it should not distract attention from the subject, which is you!

If possible, organize the photo so that the background is not too close that it is unfocused. It must not compete visually with you!

Wear appropriate neutral clothing. Color is good, but it shouldn’t be too intense. It’s an error to wear a suit if you are not going to use it at work. A shirt without a tie, or simple blouse, is always a good option.

Smile! You don’t have to split your cheeks smiling, but nothing transmits confidence like a natural, sincere smile. Show your teeth, too; closed lips give something of a forced look.

If you like to wear make-up, let it be gently and naturally applied. Too much make-up comes across negatively.

How to pose

Point your body to the left, since in CVs and web profiles the photo is almost always situated top left. This way, you will be pointing the body toward the inside of the document or page, achieving a better integration.

Look at the camera, of course, but remembering that your body should be at an angle to it. One trick is to lift a foot so that you turn slightly, naturally. If you put your body at 45° from the camera, the face at 30°, and look directly at the lens, even better.

Your shoulders should be visible in the fore of the cropped photo. If you are in the middle distance, crop below the elbows. With open images, however, you run the risk of your head appearing too small. Leave very little space above your head when cropping, so that you fill the frame better.

Incline your head slightly. The camera should be pointed at you at the same height, or a little bit above to profile the chin better.

What should you do with your arms? Don’t leave them loose at the sides; if you prefer a middle distance shot, where they will be seen, cross your arms so that both hands can be seen, laying them on the biceps, for example, which communicates firmness rather than defensiveness.

Extend the body and don’t hunch the back, again transmitting more self-confidence.

You can read more tips on photograpy in this post.