In today’s social media obsessed world, personal branding is no longer reserved for companies. Everyday people are taking their images into their own hands. A carefully chosen resume photo may be the latest step people are taking to further establish their personal brands.
So, is a resume picture an asset that job seekers should include on their resumes?
Or is it a job application faux pas that should be avoided at all costs?
Regardless of which side of the issue you’re on, here are five questions you should ask yourself before putting your photo on your resume.
5 Essential Questions to Ask Before Including a Resume Picture
1. What’s the Job You’re Applying for?
Consider what job you’re applying for. Unless you’re going for an acting or modeling gig, your physical appearance won’t (and shouldn’t) figure heavily into your hireability.
Simply put, adding a resume photo won’t help your employer better understand how you’d be suitable for the role. And since space on a resume is prime real estate, you’re better off just leaving it out.
However, if the job is one where your appearance and friendly demeanor are assets, enclosing a resume picture becomes more appropriate. Including a resume photo may even convince hiring managers of your suitability for the job. By providing hiring managers with your image, you give them more of your personality to consider outside of dry lines of text on a sheet of paper
2. What’s Customary in Your Country?
While some employers expect applicants to include a resume photo, others won’t even look at your resume because a resume picture is seen as an unprofessional and potentially risky addition to your resume.
One major reason why your employer might throw out your resume is to avoid being accused of discriminatory hiring practices. In some countries, discriminatory hiring is a crime enforceable by law.
Violating employment discrimination laws in many countries is a serious matter with dire consequences. An example of this is with the anti-discrimination employment laws in the United States. Companies such as Abercrombie & Fitch and Wal-Mart have faced large fines and destroyed reputations thanks to discriminatory hiring practices.
What does this mean for you? Long story short, you need to figure out if it’s generally acceptable to include a resume photo in your target job’s country.
To give you a head start, we’ve included some countries that use resume pictures and some that do not below.
Do Use Resume Photos in These Countries:
- South Korea
- Most European nations
Don’t Use Resume Photos in These Countries:
- United States
- United Kingdom
- The Netherlands
3. What Impression Do You Want to Make?
Are you aware that most HR managers give each resume only about a 6-second glance over before discarding it?
Ask yourself: Do you really want the HR manager to spend those valuable six seconds distracted by your appearance?
Instead, direct the HR manager’s focus towards your hard-earned work experience and accomplishments, and impress them with your abilities instead.
4. What Should a Resume Photo Look Like?
If you do decide to add a resume picture, make sure it gives the right impression!
Generally speaking, any picture you include should be professionally-taken, and clearly shows what you look like.
After all, this will be the hiring manager’s first impression of you, so you don’t want to look unprofessional or unreliable. Using a selfie or otherwise unsuitable resume photo is sure to get your resume trashed before your experience and accomplishments even get the chance to floor the hiring manager.
Professional Photo Dos and Don’ts
|Do Use||Don't Use|
|A professionally-taken photo||A selfie|
|A photo where you’re facing straight towards the camera||A photo taken at an angle|
|A photo with good lighting||A photo with bad or harsh lighting|
|A photo where your face is clearly seen||A photo where your face is obscured|
|A photo of you with a friendly smile||A photo where you look bored or unenthused|
|A photo where you’re dressed business casual||A photo where you’re wearing inappropriate attire|
|A photo where your hair is neat and out of your face||A photo where your hair looks unkempt|
|A photo where you’re wearing tasteful accessories||A photo where you’re sporting too many piercings, tattoos, or accessories|
If the photo you want to put on your resume matches the “Do Use” criteria above, your resume picture may increase your chances at landing an interview.
5. Does It Really Matter?
In today’s technologically interconnected world, does it really matter whether or not you put your picture on your resume? After all, unless you have a super common name (or superior privacy settings on everything), your appearance will be a quick Google, social media, or LinkedIn search away.
In short, the answer is yes – it does matter.
If it’s common practice to keep resume pictures off your application documents, you should still stick to convention and exclude it. If your employer is intent on seeing what you look like (which they generally should not be), he or she could just search for your photo online.
By playing it safe, you won’t accidentally come off as unprofessional or endanger your employer’s reputation by mistake. And if your impeccable work record doesn’t impress the hiring manager, you’re probably better off working somewhere else where you’d be better appreciated.
Don’t Want to Use a Resume Photo? – Two Other Options
Let’s say that you decide to keep the photo off your resume, but you’d like to make your picture easy for prospective employers to access in the event they want to do so.
There are two key ways you can include your photo while you’re applying for jobs that are still professional, and will leave your employer with a positive impression.
1. Attach Your Business Card
One way to skirt the rules of adding a photo directly to your resume is by paper-clipping your business card to your resume. Since some business card formats include a photo, attaching one to your resume is a great way to subtly factor your appearance into the hiring process.
This method is especially effective after meeting a potential employer at a networking event. The picture on your business card will help them remember you, potentially giving you an edge to be called in for an interview.
2. Provide a Link to Your LinkedIn or Portfolio
If a prospective employer is going to check your social media for clues on what you look like, why not provide them with links to the most professional of your online profiles?
To do this, you can provide a link to your LinkedIn profile or online portfolio directly on your resume. Both are likely to feature a professional profile picture of you, and you since you created them with job hunting in mind, you might as well leverage them to your advantage.
Plus, your LinkedIn profile and online portfolio will create much better impressions of you than other channels like your Facebook or Instagram accounts, which are more casual and might feature images of you that you’d rather your employer not see.
If you’re wondering whether or not including a resume picture is a smart move for you, there are many considerations to take into account. Ask yourself these five essential questions to help you decide whether putting your photo on your resume is right for you.