You know your Cleared Network career profile needs a photo. But you’re struggling with what to use. Maybe you hate getting your photo taken. Maybe you’re the secret squirrel type who doesn’t like to have you face posted on the web. Whatever your profile photo insecurity, if you’re a job seeker or looking to advance your career, it pays to put a face with a name. On a secure career networking site like ClearanceJobs.com you can trust your profile photo isn’t going to show up on Google images. Even on more public facing social networking sites, it’s better to have some image than no image. Here are a few creative tips to consider as you take a snap.

1. You don’t have to start fresh.

Almost every profile photo I’ve ever used has involved cropping out my husband or children (sorry, guys). Kids, husbands and kegs (wait, do those things go together at other people’s houses…?) don’t belong in your profile photo. But if all of your great photos involve you and other people out at a party, a good cropping job can mean your smiling face makes the cut even if theirs doesn’t. An authentic picture with a great smile is the best profile photo to have. So if that involves editing out your family members, do it. They’ll forgive you.

2. It doesn’t need a professional backdrop, but it does need some backdrop.

Most of us don’t have a studio shot for our profile photos, and that’s okay. You can let your profile photo tell a story with a great location, whether it’s a park or your favorite museum. Great architectural elements can help frame your photo, but here’s a pro tip – they shouldn’t overpower you. You should still be the star of the photo, not a blip in front of a beautiful building.

3. You Must Edit.

No good profile photo goes unedited. Even the best photographers out there today take advantage of PhotoShop. And while Adobe is king there are many free photo editing sites you can use. At the most basic, there’s Paint. Use it to crop, brighten and enhance your photo. For the more web savvy, PicMonkey and Picfull are just two of many free and easy to use web-based photo editing platforms. Also keep in mind dimensions. You want to upload a profile photo that’s the recommended image size. There’s nothing worse than editing a great image and then having it smooshed into ugliness after uploading.

4. Use an avatar.

I hear a lot from clearance holders say that they don’t like their image out there on the Internet. Leaving aside the fact that ClearanceJobs keeps your photos secure, if you still don’t want to use your actual pic as a profile photo, you can get really creative with avatars. The pencil sketch is a very cool option. It’s easy to do in PhotoShop and there are also several apps that do the work for you. Photofunia.com┬átakes your photo and applies a variety of effects. Some are just cool, others can help you do the job of making your profile photo more anonymous than a real likeness.

5. Consider angles.

This is another great tip for the security-conscious. Few of us look really spectacular in a full-frontal shot (whether clothes are on or off – and, not to point fingers, but you really need to be fully clothed for any profile photos). A profile shot can be artistic and also flattering. Throw in a pic of you drinking a cup of coffee or chewing a pen (for you starving artist types) to make it even more interesting.

These are just five tips – what are your secrets for making a profile pic that gets noticed?

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Lindy Kyzer is the editor of ClearanceJobs.com. She loves the NISPPAC, social media, and the U.S. military. Have a conference, tip, or story idea to share? Email lindy.kyzer@clearancejobs.com. Interested in writing for ClearanceJobs.com? Learn more here.