How to avoid selfies in the bathroom; a piece of legitimate professional advice

A few months ago I was asked to write a blog post about the advice I wish I’d had going into my 20s. Looking back at what I wrote, I covered off a lot of good stuff. There were things like, understanding everyone you come across in life will be superior to you in some way, the importance of learning moderation, and having the courage to say when you don’t know the answer to something. Basically all the ‘life learning’ bits you pick up during your 20s.

However, today I realised there was something very practical that I’d missed off that list that warrants being noted as an important piece of advice. So useful in fact I think it applies to everyone irrespective of age:

Always have a good professional portrait ready to use.

Earlier in the week I needed to submit a photograph for an online profile. I also had a ‘5pm at the latest, please’ deadline attached to it too, just to add a bit of pressure. As it had been years since I last updated mine, I went into a frenzy trying to find a photo on Facebook which wouldn’t look like it was a crop from a holiday.

When that didn’t work, I text a few friends. “Guys, help. I need a professional photo for this profile thing and I’ve got nothing. Do you have any pics of me that I could use?” As I could have predicted, nothing more came from this other than insight into how many stupid photos my friends have of me.

Thanks, friends.

In the end, I resorted to a selfie in the bathroom at work. I’m not even kidding, the photo I submitted, while looking fairly polished, is actually a tight crop of me kneeling on the toilet lid with my arm stretched out as far as humanly possible.

Yep, that photo at the top of this blog is literally me on the toilet.

It struck me as I was doing this that my current LinkedIn photo is also a selfie. This one was sans bathroom, but a cleverly cropped selfie nonetheless. You’d think I’d have learnt first time around.

As it turned out, another friend of mine had to submit a profile shot this week as well. She too had nothing to hand and was messaging me, rather distressed, about how she was struggling to meet the brief. While I could empathise with her and understand her anxiety, I was slightly comforted in the fact it wasn’t just me who was so ill prepared for this task.

Had we both had nice portrait shots to hand we’d have saved ourselves a lot of grief. But as they say, hindsight is a wonderful thing. And to go back to the blog about advice for your 20s, that’s the whole point really. Learning from hindsight.

So, as a late addition to ‘stuff I wish I’d known', I give: have a portrait photograph ready in the wings. It’ll save you time, mitigate the need to take an up close shot when you’re really not feeling it, and best of all, save you from having to present yourself professionally to the world in an undercover selfie on the toilet.