Are resume photos a good or idea or is it another red flag to the hiring manager?
It’s one controversial topic that exists in the scary world of job hunting. The question always arises: should you put your picture on your resume?
Some people tell you to go for it, and others say it’s one of the worst things you can do.
You want to make the best possible impression on your prospective employers, right?
Well, photos on a resume can make a lasting impression. But is it for better or for worse?
Each case is quite individual and they’re not all the same. There are different factors it depends on such as:
- The country you’re applying at
- Your job position
- The direction of the wind
- What you ate for breakfast
Joke aside, the topic is quite sensitive, and you need to consider the different factors at play.
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…
Where does this “picture on resume” come from?
Let’s go over the five main reasons experts generally agree upon for why it’s not okay to use a resume photo.
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… You name it.
These can quite easily influence your recruiter’s choice with whether they want to hire you or not.
For everyone 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.
If your resume manages to grab the recruiters’ attention, chances are they’ll do a social media background check.
They’ll find your profile and see what you look like, mostly for identification purposes.
However, it’s a different story if they’re intrigued by your skills and work experience at first. In this scenario, the photo’s influence will be a lot smaller.
Alternatively, most people would just link to their LinkedIn profile. So, if their recruiters are interested in learning more about the candidate, they can just go there.
Since they’re so controversial, the mere existence of pictures in your resume might put off the hiring managers.
Many could interpret the photo as a sign you’re not confident enough in the information you’ve included regarding your work 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 value. It’s a waste of valuable space for many HR experts – meaning, it’s unprofessional from the candidate’s side.
It’s been proven that the average time an HR specialist spends looking at a resume is exactly 7.4 seconds.
A picture will surely draw their attention to it.
In exchange, it makes them miss all the essential, relevant pieces of information related to your job position.
It would be a lot better if they spend those first few seconds on something more important. Like, being in awe of your fantastic work experience and technical skills instead of looking at your photo, no matter how professional you think it is.
Those programs can read only the text and look for specific keywords.
Pictures can get in the way of that process. As a consequence, HR specialists might automatically dismiss your resume before it has the chance to reach a recruiter.
Everywhere is different, so you need to research the requirements for the specific country.
In some places, having a picture on your resume is mandatory. While in others, resumes with a photo on them are discarded immediately.
- The United States
- The United Kingdom
- Scandinavian Countries
- Middle East
- South America
If you don’t see your country anywhere on the list, that doesn’t mean the state no longer exists in our physical realm. It simply tells us things aren’t as 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. As mentioned earlier, if you’re applying to be a model or an actor, then employers need to know how you look.
Now that we’ve 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 brave who want to take advantage of resume headshots.
We saw that sometimes photos on resumes can actually increase your chances of getting hired. This has been proven by candidates who sought a job position in the most competitive spaces:
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 with over more than 200,000 applicants.
There was no discrimination in that case, and she was hired almost immediately.
Since her experience was connected to finance and (let’s just say, it’s one of those boring jobs), the photo helped her show the recruiters she was a lively and approachable person.
While the job description is important on top of things like additional experience, communication skills, computer skills…
Employers need to see more than that.
Akshay was applying for an internship at Tesla, a competitive position many people are after.
So, it was imperative for him to stand out from the list of candidates the recruiters had 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 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 speak for themselves – Akshay got the internship right away!
From those examples, you can see that the resume photo was one of the key reasons why these applicants got hired.
The way people think about resumes and one’s personal brand changes all the time.
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.”
More and more, it becomes about the person itself.
To get a better idea of this, it’s better to see what works and fits your personality the most. You can find successful resume examples of your job position by clicking here.
So, you’ve decided a photo will only increase your chance of getting your dream job.
But how should the resume photo look?
Does size matter? How about my clothes, the background, and placement…
Don’t worry! We’ll answer all of your questions so you can have the most professional-looking photo in the world.
Like every professional photo, it needs to be high-quality. Keep it well-lit with a neutral and quiet background, so that the only thing that stands out is your face.
Big mistake: don’t use selfies or low-quality webcam photos.
Just keep it simple and 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.
The best approach is to put on clothes that match the vibe of the job you’re applying for.
Wear a suit for the more formal positions. Alternatively, wear a clean dress shirt with a simple jacket for everything else. Opt for neutral clothing and something sensible that doesn’t scream in your recruiter’s face.
In other words, avoid informal clothing such as:
- Tank tops
- Printed or graphic t-shirts
- Strapless dresses or tops
- Mesh shirts
- Big jewelry
The optimal size would be a 2-by-2 inch picture for the best resume format. 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.
It would be best to put it at the beginning of the resume, so it should be in the first section. Wherever it is, keep it close to the introduction or where the personal details are if you have any.
Let’s start by using a proven resume example – the same one that got Akshay hired.
So, first, click here on this link to browse through tested resume templates and then search for your specific job position.
Next, simply press the green button that says “use this example”.
Awesome! Now you’ve got your hands on a proven formula that’s gotten another candidate hired at competitive spaces.
After, simply click on the import button and select the photo you want to use for your resume.
Congratulations! Now you have your photo on a resume. From here, you can easily rephrase the different resume sections using your own details, which is much better than starting from scratch.
If you don’t want to include a photo on your resume, that’s okay too. You can leave it out or use our other resume templates.
You can hand them out at job fairs alongside your normal resume if you don’t want to include the picture there.
Both the portfolio and LinkedIn profile contain a photo of you and it’s an environment where it’s not only accepted, but also highly recommended. It will be the recruiter’s choice whether to go there or not.
That being said, if you’ve reached this point it means you’re fully equipped with the knowledge needed for making the most out of a resume photo.
When it comes to the visual aspects of a resume, it needs to be done professionally. And, there’s a right and wrong way of doing it.
Yes your accomplishments, education section, work experience section, and GPA are important.
But what separates you from the other thousands of candidates and professionals who have the same qualifications as you?
… This is where Enhancv’s resumes excels the most.
Your application will easily stand out if you’re using a unique resume design. After all, it’s about the impression and personality employers get from your resume.
On top of that, they’re free and easy to use. There’s nothing to lose – the only thing you’re missing out on is the opportunity to get hired for the next company you apply for by not creating your resume with Enhancv.
So, if you haven’t already you can start now by clicking below!
What does your gut tell you?
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?
Would it be beneficial to have for your future?
Overall, resume photos can be a double-edged sword if you make a blind application without doing the research. So, take the time to understand the job application standards and be sure to inject your personality into your resume for each company you apply for.
What is your opinion on photos in resumes? Have you ever been rejected or preferred because of a resume picture? I’m keen to know more about your experience!