Girl taking picture on poppy field

It only takes a tenth of a second to make a first impression and to determine whether you like someone or not. Studies even show that once we have made up our mind about a person we rarely change it. That’s why in your applications it is not only the things you write that are important but also your application photo.

Your photo should definitely look professional. The way you choose to present yourself in it depends on which company you apply to. If you want to work for an investment bank or a consultancy firm, your application photo should look more conservative. For guys this means the full-blown business attire including a tie and for girls it can be a blazer or at least a blouse. If you are going for a start-up company, however, your photo can look a bit more personal and casual.

You have two options regarding your application photo: 1. You go to a professional photographer and have him/her take your picture; 2. DYI – you Do It Yourself with the help of a friend.

Option 1: going to a professional photographer
If you choose option 1, you should look for a photographer near you, who you feel comfortable with and who doesn’t charge more than €50-60. Don’t shy away from asking for work samples so you can be certain about his or her high quality. If you live in Berlin feel free to ask us for recommendations of good photographers.

Option 2: taking your application photo by yourself in 5 steps

  • 1. Choose a plain background with a light color (a wall painted in white, off-white or light grey would be a good choice).
  • 2. Stand up straight and keep a distance of approx. 30cm from the wall.
  • 3. Relax and take a few deep breaths before your friend takes the actual photo. A feeling of uneasiness and tense body language can be spotted in a photo straight away and possibly gives the wrong impression about you.
  • 4. Smile and be friendly when you look into the camera but avoid putting on a fake smile or exaggerating it. If you’re having trouble with this, maybe it can help you when your friends smiles at you and you simply smile back at him or her.
  • 5. Ask your friend to take pictures of you from different angles to find out what your best side is. Always remember that the picture should be of your head and upper body. We recommend taking a bunch of pictures because there is a higher chance to have one really great one among, say 10-20 photos than if you only take 1 or 2 photos. 😉

Regardless of whether you go to a professional photographer or do it yourself, you should be yourself and look authentic in your picture. Smile (but not in an exaggerated way) to come across as someone who is motivated and likeable. Put yourself into a hiring manager’s shoes and think about the expression in a candidate’s face you would be looking for.

For more tips and tricks on your application photo (when you apply at a more conservative firm), check out two articles in these German business magazines: Focus and Wirtschaftswoche.

For your information: if you don’t understand German, you’ll need to find a friend to help you translate this website.

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