1. Your Personal Assistant has an important question for you: Is it time to update your LinkedIn or Twitter photo?

Our headshot has become The First Impression. Are you making your best first impression? Not to fret. Your Personal Assistant recently asked her favorite professional photographer, Arlington-based Nadya Lutz, to help you in this decision-making moment.

1. Is your photo outdated?

Your headshot should keep up with the times, and that includes your appearance. You should be recognizable. You don’t want to surprise someone when they meet you in person. In your current photo are you sporting the “Rachel” haircut? Maybe you've added a little more "you" since your last photo? If your appearance has significantly changed, the answer is yes – your photo is outdated.

2. Is your photo professional looking? Really?

If you want to be perceived as a professional, you need to look like one. You don't necessarily need a professional photographer; you can seek out that friend with the good camera and some patience. But absolutely no selfies, please. And definitely no webcam photos. You want good lighting and a neutral background.

Professional or self-taken, Nadya says it’s worth it for women to get their makeup applied professionally, as much as it’s worth it to have the barber do a little manscaping on the eyebrows, nose, neck and ears, if necessary. She always recommends a fresh shave (so fresh, she has had a number of clients shave in her in studio before a shoot).

3. What does your photo convey?

Would you work with you? You want a warm and friendly smile. Or perhaps you aren’t good with the that. Some people, often men, feel uncomfortable smiling - which is fine – but don't be too serious. A professional photographer will know how to find your best smile. If your friend is taking the photo, Nadya suggests that you relax and think about something happy to get that natural smile. A natural smile, she says, uses about 15 more facial muscles, which not only looks better, but helps to bring out the eyes.

4. How's the pose?

Nadya always poses her subjects with one shoulder forward at a 30-degree angle. No square shoulders unless you want it to look like a mug shot.

5. Are you dressed for your industry?

Wear a suit and tie if that’s your environment. Nadya suggests a dark suit with a red and/or blue tie for executive photos. She has her clients bring several jackets so she can shoot different looks. That way, clients can rotate online photos to help keep a fresh image.

Dress less conservatively if that’s the dress code. But keep the look modest and appropriate. Always avoid bright white as your prominent color because it will over expose the photo. Go for color; keep the look clean and simple. No distracting jewelry.

And if your photo is going on a website or an annual report, keep your wardrobe colors harmonious with the color scheme of the site or report.

6. Is your photo cropped and sized properly?

It’s called a headshot for a reason. It should be cropped from just above your head to 3 inches below your shoulder. And a headshot should definitely be your goal, because those photos can be small in many situations. Whether you are using a professional photographer or the patient friend with a camera, Nadya says, check out your check out your clothing choice in advance by taking a test photo. An outfit can look completely different when you are only working with those few inches.

It’s also important to save your image to the proper size, dpi, and color. Read the specs carefully: Facebook is different than LinkedIn.

2. Being somewhat confident that a typewriter cartridge is no longer on the list, I thought some research was in order. Below are my findings:

What to send?

  • socks/underwear (for the laundry challenged)

  • toiletries (lip balm, make up remover wipes)

  • pain/cold/allergy relief medicine, cough drops

  • vitamins

  • homemade baked goods

  • tea, hot chocolate, coffee pods

  • oatmeal packs

  • pudding

  • popcorn

  • instant mac & cheese/raman

  • microwaveable cake/brownies

  • breakfast cereal pack

  • snack packs

  • granola bars

  • nuts

  • holiday/birthday decorations

  • cards/games

  • frisbee

  • magnets/push pins

  • Silly String/glow sticks/kazoos/bubbles

  • throw/blanket

  • Tide laundry pods

  • portable stain wipes

  • sewing kit

  • gift card to local restaurant/coffee shop/online store

  • ear plugs

  • eye mask

  • batteries

  • hand sanitizer

  • handwritten notes and photos from home

  • extra for the roommate(s)

When to send?

  • after each semester begins or monthly

  • before or after a final exam

  • after winning an award/acceptance into a club

  • before a big game

  • before a holiday

Out of time?

3. Signed. Sealed. Schedule A Pick Up To Be Delivered.

You’ve probably been ordering your postage stamps online, but your devoted assistant wants to be sure you realize there are other services offered by the United States Post Office and some are even cost-free.

As long as you’ve got that user name and password set up at, you can stop the pain of the post office trip.

Without charge, you can order USPS Priority Mail and Priority Mail Express shipping envelopes, boxes, labels, and forms. You can purchase their Ready Post mailing supplies, right down to the packing tape. Once you make the order, it takes your mail carrier about 5 business days to deliver the supplies to your door.

If you order envelopes and/or boxes now, the next time you want to ship something – such as a care package to your college student – all you have to do is fill up that envelope or box and go to the USPS website to pay for the shipping, print your label, and request a free pick up.

If it’s Priority Mail Flat Rate Shipping, you just enter the box size. Have you seen the commercial, "If it fits, it ships anywhere in the US up to 70 pounds"? The postage is the same no matter how much it weighs, and the prices are reasonable.

If you are using a different box and you want to ship based on weight, you enter the weight amount and the price is calculated. Again, you pay online, print the label, and schedule the pick up. USPS sells postage scales, but so far I’ve had luck using my kitchen and bath scales.