This is the stuff the military doesn’t Teach you


Last week a Soldier transitioning out of the military stopped by my studio for an updated headshot because he is starting a new career. We talked about how the army just doesn’t teach soldiers any of this and what a disservice it is to veterans. So I want to make sure you understand how important a headshot is and why you need a new one today.  Here are 5 reasons you need a professional headshot on your linked in profile today

1. You are getting out of the military, so look like it. 

If a professional didn’t take your headshot, then your headshot probably sucks.  Did your wife or kid take a photo of you on the phone standing against a brick wall looking like you are getting your DA photo? Or did you just use the same profile photo from Facebook that everyone put a little heart emoji on? Did your PAO take it on the ID card background?

That’s not a headshot and it’s not professional. Understand that LinkedIn is not social media, it’s for professionals and networking.

You must have a photo that shows you understand your environment and are serious about job seeking and connecting. Remember you’re getting out of the military, so look like it, relax, smile, have fun.

2. First Impressions matter


It takes about 1/10th of a second for people to look you over, get an idea of who you are and what you’re about and then move on or engage with you. That first impression is your profile picture. So you want to make sure it looks right. That first impression also shows that you can adapt to your environment and are serious about transitioning.

Recruiters looking at your picture the  same way the board looked at your evaluation folder.With a glance they have to decide are you serious or not, will you be a good fit or not, should I spend the time to contact you or not? Your headshot should answer their questions. It shows you are confident, capable, approachable, friendly, and worth getting to know.

Even if you are online to network and connect with people, you want to communicate that with your photo.


3. This is your personal brand


Everyone is their personal brand, everyone is their own media company. So it’s important to make sure that you have a photo that represents who you are and what you’re about. It doesn’t have to be all suit and tie, it can be casual. It could be a more relaxed lifestyle type photo of that is the space you want to engage in. Look at realtors images, you see them on the street, in front of businesses or houses and it communicates what they are about.

Your headshot, and therefore your brand, should be for the job you want or the network you want to be associated with, and the people you want to connect with. Your headshot shouldn’t show the job you had, you’re changing all that. 


4. Be Likable and Approachable


If your photo looks like you are still in the army, you are not likable or approachable. People in the military can talk to you, but others see something else. Lighten up!

You want potential employers to know you have the confidence, the skills, and the personality to work within their organization, to get along with their employees, and to adapt to their culture. That is communicated in your photo. It comes through your eyes and your mouth and your smile and your stance.

A good professional photographer will coach you and help you get the look just right. They will also Help you with what to wear. Picking the right clothes matters, and having the right outfit for the type of job you’re going for or the type of connections you wanna make is equally important. So ask questions, get a tailored suit, don’t buy your clothes from the PX.


5. Employers need your skills not your stereotypes


This isn’t to say that recruiters and companies are not looking for military vets or that it’s hard to get hired as a veteran. It’s actually the opposite. The market right now is very pro veteran, pro military. They want the skill sets you bring coming out of the military. So your photo should communicate that you are bringing those skills and not the military stereotypes.

If your headshot looks like it’s from the military, then you run the risk of confirming some negative misconception about military people.  A bad image confirms that vets are rigid, too structured, not flexible, and not approachable. Or maybe we just carry baggage with us and can’t let go of the military. Those are not qualities employers are looking for. Your headshot should communicate the value and capability a military vet brings to an organization, not confirm the negatives.

Part of transitioning our military experience to the civilian sector is transitioning the image. It takes a little work and a professional to do it right.



How much does a Headshot Cost?

Be prepared to spend a little bit of money, it’s worth it… it’s an investment. Headshots around the Nashville area where I’m at, range from $100-$400 depending on the style of the shoot and the number of images you want. You should know there are different types of headshots for acting, for social engagement, traditional/corporate, and lifestyle photos. You need to decide on which type of headshot is right for you and find a photographer who specializes in that. Do some research, connect with them, ask questions and be prepared to pay for the service.

At my studio I do a  Headshot happy hour every month. This is designed specifically for transitioning military guys and gals to come in network, to meet people in the community and , get a really good headshot made. If you are in the area, watch my social media for the next event. I’ll get your headshot straightened out quick! 

Lets Review

  1. You are getting out of the military so look like it (if a pro didn’t take your headshot, it probably sucks right now.)
  2. Make a good first impression
  3. You are your own brand – this is for the job you want not the job you had
  4. Be approachable, likable, friendly – work with a professional
  5. Employers need your skills not the stereotypes


Here is a bonus LinkedIn tip. A friend of mine Eric Horton helps transitioning military build out their LinkedIn profiles and leverage LinkedIn for their next career move. One of the tips he has is to curate your contacts and your network. Connect with people who can help you improve, gain skills or insight, or can assist or mentor you, and ultimately help you find your next career. Don’t just go in and become friends with all of your military buddies. Remember this isn’t Facebook, this is a tool for professionals and the corporate world and should be approached that way.

Click here to get the headshot success secret guide?

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