Resume photos. A controversial topic in the scary world of applying for jobs. Some people tell you to go for it, and others say that it’s one of the worst things you can do.
You want to make the best possible impression on your employers-to-be, right?
A photo makes a lasting impression. But is it for better or worse?
Each case is quite individual. It depends on the country you’re applying at, the position you’re aiming for, the direction of the wind, and what you ate for breakfast.
Joke aside, the topic is quite sensitive, and you need to consider many different factors.
So continue reading if:
- You’re not sure whether to put a photo on your resume;
- You want to know where it’s illegal to include a resume picture;
- You want to know what the requirements for a resume photo are.
First, let’s start with…
Why experts say it’s not okay to put a photo in your resume
Where does this “resume photo taboo” come from? Let’s go over five main reasons that experts generally agree upon.
No photos help to avoid subconscious bias and discrimination
No matter how professional an HR specialist is, they are still human, and humans tend to make many subconscious decisions.
Race, gender, age, name, and appearance can quite easily influence your recruiter’s choice, whether they want it or not.
For all people to have an equal chance, no matter their origin and personal data, most HR agencies and other companies prefer to have almost no private information on the CV or resume, including a candidate’s photo.
Most HR experts google the candidates
If your resume manages to grab the recruiters’ attention, chances are they will look for your social media profiles and find out what you look like, mostly for identification purposes.
However, if they were intrigued by your skills and experience first, the photo’s influence will be a lot smaller.
Many people just link to their LinkedIn profile so that if the recruiters are interested in learning more about the candidate, they can just go there.
Photos are often considered unprofessional
Since they are so controversial, the mere existence of pictures in your resume might put off the hiring managers.
Many could interpret the photo as a sign that you are not confident enough in the information you’ve included regarding your experience and skills.
Unless you’re applying for an acting or modeling job, your looks are not relevant to the application and bring no real worth. It’s just a waste of valuable space for many HR experts – thus unprofessional from the candidate’s side.
A picture on your resume might distract recruiters from the vital info
It’s been proven that the average time an HR specialist spends looking at a resume is around 6 to 7 seconds.
A picture will surely draw their attention to it and make them miss all the essential, relevant pieces of information related to the position you crave.
It would be a lot better if they spend those first few seconds in awe of your fantastic experience and technical skills instead of looking at your photo, no matter how professional you think it is.
Applicant tracking systems don’t like images in general
Those programs can read only the text and look for specific keywords.
Pictures can get in the way of that process, and specialists might automatically dismiss your resume before it has the chance to reach a recruiter.
Find out what’s customary in the country of your choice
Research the requirements for the specific country, since everywhere is different.
In some places having a picture is mandatory, while in others, resumes with a photo on them are discarded immediately.
Countries where resume photos are not accepted
- The United States
- The United Kingdom
Countries where resume photos are allowed
- Scandinavian Countries
- Middle East
- South America
If you don’t see your country anywhere on the list, that doesn’t mean that the state no longer exists in our physical realm. It merely tells us that things aren’t black and white everywhere, and there are some exceptions.
For example, Canada doesn’t have any specific laws that forbid pictures on resumes, but it’s highly recommended that you don’t put one in unless it’s tightly related to your profession.
The US also has the same exception – you can include a picture and personal details, such as gender, height, weight, disabilities, etc. if you’re applying to be a model or an actor. In that case, people need to know how you look.
What’s Enhancv’s team experience with resume photos?
Now that we have cut through the noise and you get the general impression of why resume photo advice has been a predominant “no,” here’s our experience.
This is a territory for the few brave of us who decide to take advantage of resume headshots.
We saw that sometimes photos actually increased the chance of the candidates brought them to success:
As a young professional with years of experience in the finance industry, Sam Young was having difficulties being noticed by tech companies when she decided to switch up carriers.
In the end, a change in her resume style and a photo helped Sam land a job in Spotify – a position sought after by more than 200 000 applicants.
Since her experience was connected to finance and, let’s just say it, boring jobs, the photo helped her show the recruiters she was a lively and approachable person.
There was no discrimination in that case, and she was hired almost immediately.
Akshay was applying for an internship in Tesla, a position many people are after, so it was imperative for him to stand out from all the other resumes the recruiters would have to go through.
And sometimes, words are just not enough.
Of course, the HR specialist would see all his degrees, projects, and overall experience, but it would be even more impressive when they see that such a young person completed all of this.
It adds more to his character and tells the recruiters how ambitious and talented he is. And the results are visible – Akshay got the internship right away!
From those examples, you can see that the picture was one of the key reasons why these professionals got hired. As Rob Asghar says, “You need to keep finding new ways to tell your story and sell your personal brand—increasingly with pictures and graphics.”
The way people think about resumes and one’s personal brand changes all the time.
More and more, it becomes about the person itself.
And people are not just experiences, programs we can use, skills, or successful projects. It’s how we want to be perceived.
It’s a mixture of all of the above. You can’t rely on just a part of those ingredients. You need to use all of them.
As long as it’s legal, of course.
Take a look at some successful resume examples and see what fits your personality and needs the most.
How to put a photo on your resume
So, you’ve decided a photo will only increase your chance of getting your dream job.
But how should the resume photo look? Size? Clothes? Placement?? So many questions!
Don’t worry, we will answer all of them so you can have the most professional-looking photo in the world.
- What should a resume photo look like?
Just like every professional photo, it needs to be high-quality, well lit, with a neutral, not busy background, so that the only thing that stands out would be your face.
Don’t use selfies or low-quality webcam photos. Go with a neutral facial expression or a sincere smile.
We recommend that you spend some money on a professional headshot. You can use this picture everywhere and see that it was worth it in the long run.
- Where to put the photo on your resume?
It would be best to put it at the beginning of the resume, close to the introduction, or personal details if you have any.
- What size should a resume photo be?
The optimal size would be a 2-by-2 inch picture. It’s big enough to show your features and make an excellent first impression, but not too much so that it would distract from the rest of the information.
- What to wear for a resume photo?
The best approach is to put on clothes that match the vibe of the job you’re applying for. A suit for the more formal positions and a clean dress shirt with a simple jacket for everything else.
Opt for neutral clothing that doesn’t scream in your recruiter’s face, so steer clear of tank tops, printed t-shirts, strapless dresses or tops, mesh shirts, big jewelry, sunglasses, and hats.
- How to do it with Enhancv?
We have a straightforward resume builder that allows you to create both photo and no photo resumes. You can try different layouts and choose the one that fits your needs the most.
We’ve created resume templates for various job positions and provide our clients with multiple successful examples to guide them.
Don’t want to use a resume photo? Here are some other options
- Use a business card or a networking resume
You can hand them out at job fairs alongside your normal resume if you don’t want to include the picture there.
- Add a link to your LinkedIn or portfolio
Both the portfolio and LinkedIn profile contain a photo of you and it’s an environment where it’s not only accepted but also recommended to have it. It will be the recruiter’s choice whether to go there or not.
Follow your gut. If it’s not illegal to include a photo in your resume, you have to do the proper research and decide for yourself.
What is the impression you want to leave? Is it relevant to your position, and, do you think it would be beneficial for your future?
Take the time and make sure to include your personality in your resume for each company you’re applying for.
At every step of the way, Enhancv will be there to help with our useful guides, resume builder, and multiple examples for each profession.
What is your opinion on photos in resumes? Have you ever been rejected or preferred because of a resume picture? Tell us about your experience!