Why and When to Include a Headshot in Your Email Signature


Ever thought about including a headshot photo in your email signature? What are the drawbacks to doing it, other than perhaps the idea that “people don’t do it”?

People communicate in ways now that were unimaginable just a few years ago, so is including a headshot in your email signature really that revolutionary?

Here are a few points that will help you understand when and why you might include a headshot in your email signature.

Does It Complement Your Role?

This might just be the single most important consideration when it comes to including a headshot in your email signature. Certain industries are certainly more embracing of such ideas (design, advertising and tech are probably those that spring to mind), whereas some other industries might be considered a little more old-fashioned (finance and law) and may be a little slower in adopting such practices. That still doesn’t mean it’s a bad idea, but you definitely have to think about the prevailing attitude in the company and industry you work for and in.

As much as it’s relevant where you are writing from, in terms of the company, always think about who you are writing to. If it’s someone who has never met you, and whose trust you are trying to win, then surely it’s a good idea for them to see who they are dealing with.


Check Your Company Guidelines

If you work for yourself, then you only have yourself to answer to, but if you work for a company, then branding guidelines and other such regulations will have to be followed.

It may be that your organization doesn’t allow it at all. But even if they do, following the rules in terms of the size of the image in relation to the corporate logo, and not distracting from the vital contact information, should be taken strongly into account.

Showing your face adds a human element to emails and helps people relate to your message. Of course, it’s also fairly simple to do by inserting the image into a HTML table, or by using an email signature generator to do the hard work for you.

So, it might actually make sense, right?

Some Rules on Images

We’ve run through the nitty-gritty in terms of why and when you should include a headshot photo in your email signature. Next, we just need to think specifically about the image itself, or images even, because there may even be room for more than one image.

When it comes to the actual image that you use, think long and hard about what you’re using it for. Let’s put it another way. Would you use the same resume for every job that you apply for, irrelevant of the company or whether the job is in the public or private sector, and whether the role is customer-facing or not? The answer to that question is probably a big fat “no”, or at least it should be, because in each case, you will try to accentuate different skills, abilities and experience.

So, in terms of the image that you use, it’s highly advisable to have a stock of options that you use depending on who you are sending the message to. Your signature might not change much per se (you may adapt your title from time to time), but it’s a really good idea to use different headshots of yourself depending on the nature of the message you’re sending.

The majority of your emails, if not all, will of course be business-related, but a headshot can say a lot about your personality, so what side of you do you want to project? The serious, studious side, the playful, extrovert side, or something a little in between? Chances are it changes, depending on the situation and who you are writing to.

Stuart McAuliffe, a marketer at Academized.

Whether you want to run with one standard image, or have a selection to use as necessary, here are some things to think about.

Quality Matters

If you’re going to include an image, at least make it a clean, crisp image that shows you at your best and has been taken specifically for the purpose.

Poor quality photos that have been taken at a nightclub with poor lighting and cropped out of other pictures look unprofessional.

If needed, hire a photographer that will take high resolution professional photos of you – it will pay off.


They Are Not Passport Photos

The strict guidelines around passport photos state that you must look directly at the camera, and never smile. This is not a passport photo. Headshots taken specifically for the purpose of travel are deliberately bereft of character.

Lacking character in your email signature headshot is a terrible waste of an opportunity to show yourself as an interesting and approachable person who the receiver would like to respond to.

Take It Seriously(ish)

By all means be playful with a smile, or a slight tilt of the head, but ridiculous poses will reflect badly on you and the organization you work for.

Never hide behind items such as sunglasses, or use props, because people could form opinions about you based on what they see, and they may not always be positive if you use erroneous items.


Don’t Digitally Enhance Photos

People usually know when a photo has been digitally manipulated, and perfection is not a good image to project in any case. In a worst-case scenario, it may help form the opinion that you are in some way untrustworthy, vain, and frankly, unlikeable.

Experiment with Different Photo Sizes and Shapes

Having a square photo can look boring, so why not play around with shapes and sizes of photos?

The most common photo types for email signatures are ones with round edges, circular radius, and sometimes even a hexagon shape.

It’s important to see what looks right for your company and also the different positions within the company. Remember, all your staff will need to have the same style of image, otherwise it won’t look right.


Other Considerations

Making the decision to use a headshot in an email signature can be a fairly simple one when there aren’t many employees in your company. However, if you have hundreds of employees, using a faceshot image for each employee can take some time, especially if you want to take the photos professionally.

Think about the time it will take to capture everyones photo, ensure the photo looks good, resize it for email signature use and then set it up in the email signature. It could take quite some time. Although we can’t help you with capturing the photo, we can definitely help you with resizing, cropping and changing the shape of the photos for all of your email signatures.

Examples of Email Signatures with Headshot Images


So, there you have it, headshots in email signatures. You may not have even thought about it before, but not only are a lot of people doing it, it could well be a good idea to follow their lead. All over the world, people include headshots on their resumes, and although it’s not as common in English-speaking countries, the basic premise is to create a relationship with a face. It’s human nature after all.

Therefore, think about the benefits that showing your face can give to your business. There are rules to follow, of course, and there are times when it may not be at all appropriate to include an image. However, adding a headshot to your email signature could just be the spark you’ve been looking for in terms of upping your communication game and building better relationships. Why not give it a try?

About the Author
Ellie Coverdale is a digital marketer at UK Writings. She has been involved in many large projects, which she has taken valuable learning experiences from.

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