RESIDENCY APPLICATION HEADSHOTS
Medical Headshots (ERAS, VSAS, etc.) are to the medical industry what audition headshots are to the talent industry. These headshots are used in various application processes, including residency, fellowship, and medical school.
Medical headshots reveal, among other things, the level of preparation and seriousness of the applicant. Those who take the exercise lightly, be it by dressing casually or not using the right facial expressions, are immediately noticeable.
Tips For Getting The Most Out Of Your Medical Headshot (ERAS, VSAS., etc.)
The human mind forms a first impression within the first tenth of a second. A medical headshot of an applicant that exudes intelligence and confidence is more likely to be selected for a very simple reason: programs want self-assured applicants confident in their skills and competence.
But that is not all, as approachability is just as crucial as intelligence and confidence.
While a confident expression does make a memorable first impression, the interviewers ultimately want someone that seems friendly and easy to work with. A great medical headshot will exude all these three expressions.
Professional Lighting and Backdrop
A professional medical headshot that is well lit with a clean backdrop dramatically increases your chances of being called to an interview.
Submitting professional portraits also tells the interviewer that you care enough about how you present yourself to invest in professional photography services.
Solid white and light gray backdrops seem to get picked more often because, probably because they make the person stand out more. You want your medical headshot to translate into an attention-grabbing thumbnail—statistically, these are more likely to get clicked on. At PhotoTale Studio, we will make sure you are well prepared for your medical headshot photo-shoot session.
Correct Specifications and Format
For a headshot to be eligible, it must conform to ERAS specifications.
- 2.5 inches in width by 3.5 inches height
- Maximum file size of 100KB. Please note that a regular professional camera (and modern cell phones) have a file size of 4-5MB per image, which is about 4000 times larger.
- A resolution of 150 dpi. You may try a higher resolution (200 dpi, etc.), but you will soon run into the file size limit.
Headshots that don’t adhere to these guidelines will likely get rejected.
How to Make Your Medical/ERAS Headshots Stand Out
Remember, your headshot is not the only one under review. There are thousands of medical headshots that pass through the hands of the interviewers. How do you make yours stand out from the others?
Step 1: Hire a Professional Headshot Photographer
You may have a friend with a decent camera and photography skills that will agree to take your medical headshots in exchange for a favor or a small gesture of appreciation. However, there is a difference in expertise and experience between a person who owns a camera for general photography and a professional headshot photographer.
Investing in a good headshot photographer is investing in your future career. Your medical headshots will be used on websites, badges, hospital faculty boards, and application forms for the entirety of your medical career, so why not spend a little money to get the best possible outcome?
Step 2: Mind the Setting
Good lighting and backdrop are vital to making your headshots more professional looking. We consider a light gray background to be the best choice. It is modern, minimalistic, and puts the focus on you, the subject. At PhotoTale Studio, we will choose the best backdrop and lighting solution to complement your wardrobe and make you stand out.
Step 3: Dress for the Part
According to research, some outfits are more likely to get your headshots selected, while others can damage your chances of getting the interview. Studies show that some items of clothing are associated with positive application outcomes.
For men, a suit jacket is necessary, but a tie isn’t. For women, wearing their hair down and dressing in a conservative top (one that’s not low-cut and not see-through) seemed to bear positive outcomes most of the time.
Things that didn’t seem to make a difference were jewelry for women and specific facial hair grooming styles for men.
However, the study indicates that headshots, where the applicants wore glasses, had a better shot at success. Glasses made the candidates seem more intelligent, diligent, and successful.
The key takeaway from the research is:
- Dress formally, as if you were attending the interview, because this is an interview
- Women candidates should avoid clothing that exposes cleavage—the key is to appear professional and disciplined.
- Glasses seem to increase your chances of landing the interview or residency, but (obviously) don’t wear glasses if you don’t have vision problems.
- Letting your hair down (women) may slightly increase the appeal of your headshots, but there is scope to question this requirement seeing as it originated from an outdated 1982 study. Facial hair and jewelry are non-consequential but don’t draw attention to them.
Also, as strong as the urge might be, do not wear a white coat. There’s an air of arrogance associated with such headshots, and the goal is to look humble, yet confident. The same applies to your graduation gown and any outfits that are too dressy. Calling attention away from your face is generally not a good idea when taking medical headshots.
Step 4: Look Approachable
It doesn’t hurt your chances if you look like a human being in your headshots. Don’t be compelled to act too serious or focused. Sure, you want to express confidence, but it shouldn’t be at the expense of something that’s arguably more important to the interviewers: your smile.
Smile away in your headshots. Look friendly and approachable. Everyone wants to be around someone that seems easy-going and easy to talk to—interviewers are no different. Remember, this is not a passport photo, and neither is it a mug shot, so smile in a warm, friendly manner.
Step 5: Thoughtful Retouching and Post-Processing
There’s nothing wrong with retouching your headshots before submission. Even the tiniest, seemingly minor fixes, such as smoothing out your complexion or digitally whitening your teeth, can go a long way.
That said, there’s only so much you can do before it is no longer a retouching but a full-blown digital face-lift. Don’t go overboard. You’re smoothing out the blemishes, not morphing into a different person. It might help to remember that an ERAS medical headshot is not a social media profile picture, so keep things modest. At PhotoTale Studio, we have done this many times, and we will guide through the process each step of the way.