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Q&A with Susie Grant, SPHR: Human Resources Pro Breaks Down the Polished Profile

March 11, 2018 Published by . Leave your thoughts

So many folks swing by our studio for professional headshots to update their LinkedIn profile, so we chatted with our friend Susie to get some job search tips. Susie Grant is a Human Resources Business Partner. With an extensive background in human resources and recruiting, Grant has experience in HR advisory, employee relations, developing sourcing strategies, and staff forecasting. She sat down to offer some insight into what HR professionals look for in job candidates and how your professional presence (both in person and online) can impact your ability to land your next gig.

 Q: What are your top tips for job searchers?

It is certainly an industry cliché, but getting noticed is the first—and arguably most important—step. I think what is most important to remember here is while your resume plays a big role, social media is becoming increasingly more important. Recruiters and HR professionals are continuing to rely on networks like LinkedIn, Indeed and Glass Door when vetting candidates for interviews. We’ll go into some of that more in a bit.

Outside of polishing up your professional presence online, I also love the following tips:

  • Keep it concise: Different industries have different standards, but most of the time you want to stick to a one or two-page resume.
  • Tailor your story: Don’t just toss your name into the hat and hope it sticks. Review and revise your resume for each application and tell the most thorough story about why you are right for the job.
  • Do your homework: Study the job board and find a position that really speaks to your interest. Before you apply, consider if you really want this job, and what you can do to convey that in your application. The more strategic you are about where you apply, the less often you’ll have to do it!
  • Bring your ideas: Talk about what kind of impact you’ve made in your current role. Whether this is process change, innovative ideas or creative solutions to challenges, telling that story (with numbers, if you can!) makes a huge impact on future employers.
  • Make a list, check it twice: Nothing is more important than proofing. It sounds obvious, but having an error-free resume and application goes a long way!

Q: Anything job candidates should make sure not to do?

A little common sense in an interview is a must! Of course, interviewers understand this is a stressful situation, but this is also your time to shine. Present with confidence when talking about your skills, why you want this new position and why you would be a good fit. Think about how to convey that you either (1) know you are going to be good at this role or (2) what about you indicates you can be easily trained for this position.

Q: What kind of role does a headshot play when you’re looking at job candidates?

This is where social media has made a huge impact on the recruiting field. How you present yourself with a headshot online is more important than ever, and I don’t see that changing any time soon. With the rise of networks like LinkedIn, it’s pretty easy to be a passive jobseeker online. If you’re connected to the right people and are actively updating your profile, recruiters will start coming to you.

That said, consider the fact that (not to sound too creepy here) someone is always watching! Make sure your headshot is up-to-date and that your profile online is complete. It makes you seem more polished and approachable.

While there’s nothing wrong with a traditional, shoulders-up headshot think about ways you can get creative, if it works for your industry. If you’re in a field like banking, sales, or law, you may not want to stray too far from the traditional look, but if you’re in a creative field, think about ways you can change up your wardrobe or let your personality shine through.

It doesn’t need to be the best photo you’ve ever taken, but putting a little thought into your photo selection is important! No matter what, I don’t suggest cropping yourself out of a photo from a night out with your friends…no matter how good the lighting is. J

 Q: How can someone be sure they are memorable? Anything that makes them memorable in a bad way?

If you’re using a professional photographer for your headshot, which I would highly recommend, make sure you come prepared to communicate exactly what you’re looking for. If you’re willing to step outside the box a little, give them an example or tell them what you’re hoping to achieve with your photo. Taking a moment to brainstorm will ensure you’re comfortable with the photo you get and that it really captures the personality you’d like to display on your professional profile.

Think about it this way: you want convey relevant parts of your personality. Relaying things like creativity, confidence and an outgoing personality are a plus. Things like your love of reptiles, your massive action figure collection and your dirt bike skills…maybe not relevant. Be you, be confident, but do it in a way that makes sense for the job you want!

Whether it’s a more traditional headshot or something on the creative side, if I see a qualified candidate has taken the time to create a complete online profile, I can usually be confident they are a dedicated candidate and are serious about their career.


If you’re in a job search and need a professional LinkedIn profile photo, book your headshot session today!

Swipe Right – How to nail the online dating profile photo

February 12, 2018 Published by . Leave your thoughts

At Organic Headshots, we’re not all business. Sure—we are all about having that polished, professional photo for your company’s website or your LinkedIn profile. But there’s also a time and a place for something a little more, well, personal.

We often have clients come in and ask for two different looks—one LinkedIn photo and one “for personal use.” I’m never in the business of embarrassing a client, but I’ll ask straight up: “Are you planning to use this for a dating profile?” With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, we’ve got dating on the brain and are bringing you our tips for getting your best “professional” online dating photo.

First, I want to share a little bit of background on why this topic is something that resonates with me. My husband and I met on Match.com about six years ago…but there’s a little more to our story than that. After a few dates, we decided we were going to see each other exclusively and take down our online dating profiles. I logged into an OKCupid account I had ignored for some time. When I logged in, I saw months of unread messages, and there was a familiar face in my inbox – my new boyfriend, Joel. He sent me a message about six months before we connected on Match.com, and much to my surprise, it was marked as read! Out of shock and curiosity, I opened it again, and suddenly remembered reading it when he sent it.  He had signed his message, “write back, Joel,” and I remember thinking, “I DON’T EVEN KNOW THIS GUY AND HE’S TELLING ME WHAT TO DO NOBODY PUTS BABY IN A CORNER,” and I didn’t respond and forgot about it.  Six months later, he receives a message on Match.com from the very girl who had ignored him months back, and he thinks to himself, “THAT GIRL HAS THE GALL TO CONNECT WITH ME 6 MONTHS AFTER I MESSAGED HER AND GOT NO RESPONSE?!” And now we’re married.

If that story doesn’t make you feel okay about telling me and my team when you’re seeking a photo for your online dating profile, maybe these tips will help.

Be Honest: Don’t be embarrassed to tell your photographer what you’re really there for! Sure, it can be uncomfortable to tell someone you don’t know that you’re looking for love online, but I’ve been there—plenty of us have been there. And we want to help you get a photo that gets clicked on! In order to get the best photo, it helps for your photographer to know exactly what you’re using it for in order to craft the best look and feel.

Get Comfortable: No matter what you’re using your professional photo for, it’s important to relax. We’re not going to lie—if your career doesn’t have you in front of the camera often, it’s completely normal to feel out of your element. If you’ve told your photographer what you’re looking for, there’s nothing else to be nervous about. Getting a shot that is natural and shows your personality is that much easier if you can try to forget the camera is there and just have a casual interaction with your photographer.

Be You: This sounds obvious, but being true to yourself is the best way to get a truly “organic” looking photo. We don’t just mean “act natural” here. Think about what you wear, how you do your makeup and hair, the kind of accessories you choose (we have more tips on that here). It sounds cliché, but remember that you want this profile to reflect who you actually are. And that doesn’t only mean not posing next to a Maserati Quattroporte if you drive a Honda. Yes, it’s your first impression with a future significant other, but nothing good ever comes from forcing a certain persona online. We know it’s easier said than done, but be yourself, and leave the tough work to the people behind the lens!

I hope these tips have eased some of your nerves about building your online dating profile. Wishing you all a happy Valentine’s Day!

About Organic Headshots

Michelle Kaffko has been running Organic Headshots since 2005, taking corporate headshots and executive portraits for thousands of Chicago area professionals. Organic Headshots gets down to the root of why someone needs a headshot and for what purpose, enabling them to deliver the best product possible for all of their clients.

Favorite shots of 2017!

January 23, 2018 Published by . 1 Comment

Now that 2018 is underway and we’ve all returned from our holiday-cookie-induced-end-of-year comas, we figured we would look through the files at our 2017 memories and choose our favorite shots of the year.  After some intensive file sorting we grabbed our favorite photos and BOOM! over 100 photos made our list.  It was a good year.

But we figured that would be an awful lot of photos to post, so we did our best to narrow it down to 25.  And here they are: 25 of our favorite photos of 2017.  Thanks for a great 2017, and we’re looking forward to an awesome 2018!

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If you’re ready for your closeup, book your headshot online today!

Happy Holidays!

December 3, 2017 Published by . Leave your thoughts

2017, our 12th year in business, has been an absolute blast: thank you to all of our awesome clients for choosing us, trusting us, and supporting us as we grow. We’ve met and photographed hundreds of people this year alone, and have enjoyed every minute behind our cameras. Thank you, again, and we’re looking forward to a successful 2018!

Happy Holidays from everyone at Organic Headshots!

Organic Headshots, group photo

How to bare all for your headshot

October 2, 2017 Published by . Leave your thoughts

As headshot photographers we’ve taken photos of thousands of people over the last 12 years, and there’s one common theme we can’t seem to get away from: most people don’t like having their photo taken. They get uncomfortable. They get nervous. Some have even panicked or cried in the studio. Did I mention we photograph adults?

There’s something about having a camera lens pointed at your face that puts just about everyone on edge. There’s even science behind the idea that once we’ve seen even one crappy photo of ourselves we tend to fear the camera and the possibility that whatever that machine produces is going to be a hideous image of ourselves that others will see and judge us on.

Therefore our job as photographers isn’t just to set up lights, backdrops, and push buttons on a camera, it’s now to make someone relaxed enough that they look natural, calm, confident, and at the very least not like they’re having a root canal done in their headshots.

After over a decade of getting people to chill in the studio, these are the most common tips we’ve relied on in order to get our clients to open up and reveal their true selves. And to prove they work, here’s a naked photo of Michelle.  There is NO WAY she would have been able to take this photo without these tips.

how to be comfortable in front of the camera

Don’t pose. Models pose and there’s a reason they make as much money as they do if they’re good at it: it’s hard. Trying to find your “perfect” angle on your own is nearly impossible and just looks forced and stiff. Work with a photographer who helps you look natural in front of the camera and gives you direction while looking through the lens to find the best angles and most natural stances and tilts.

Don’t focus on or try to correct the things you hate about photos of you in the past. We can’t tell you how many people will start bugging their eyes out when we lift our camera because “my eyes get squinty when I smile.” If you try to keep your eyes wide open or tilt your head in exactly the same position that made that one photo of you on vacation in 2005 look so fabulous, it will just look fake and forced and like you’re trying to hold in a fart or something. Again, trust your photographer to help you get a natural look.  Tell them the things you didn’t like in past photos so they can look out for them and correct things if they see it pop up, but then relax, act natural, and don’t try to over-engineer your facial expression or pose. Every time we get someone to successfully let everything go (usually by saying that if the photo looks like crap it gets deleted), we get the best photos and they stop looking at those individual features we all have and occasionally hate about our faces.

Remember headshot truth #1: know the purpose of the photo. A professional headshot should show you looking friendly, confident, and approachable. Not that you have really skinny arms. If you get too caught up in trying to look “perfect,” you’ll lose sight of the real reason you need this photo, whether it’s a bio photo for your website to attract new clients, or a LinkedIn profile photo for your job search.

Remember headshot truth #2: no one looks at photos of you the way you look at photos of you. A good headshot should have people thinking “man, he looks friendly,” FULL STOP. Nine times out of ten when someone in our studio has said, “oh man my eye/ear/hair/nostril/mouth/cheek/shoulder/top button of my shirt looks weird, we didn’t see it at all. It’s perfectly understandable to have eagle eyes for our photos: we’ve all seen hundreds of photos of ourselves over our lifetime and as soon as we see even just one where our nose looks weird or our eyes look puffy, it’s the first thing we check to make sure isn’t happening with this new photo. But NO ONE ELSE DOES THIS when they see a photo of you.  So just make sure you look happy, confident, and friendly, and as long as your photographer is checking for hair sticking up or anything weird enough on your shirt to be distracting, you’re good.

If you’re still struggling with feeling like you look natural in your photos, pretend to be more confident than you are. Do something before the shoot or during the shoot that gives you fake-it-until-you-make-it confidence. There’s science behind forcing yourself to smile when you’re sad: it actually makes you feel happier. So apply that idea to confidence. Stand up taller. Wear that pair of shoes that makes you feel fancy. Get your nails done or put on cologne even those things aren’t in the photo—you’ll feel more put together and camera ready.

If you’re ready for your closeup, book a headshot session online now!