Should You Include Your Picture on Your Resume?
In most cases, including a photo of yourself on your resume is unnecessary and may even hurt your chances of getting hired. However, there are a few instances where it makes sense and is even expected that you will include your photo.
This article will cover situations when you should and shouldn’t include your photo on your resume, the reasoning behind not including your photo in most cases, and how to take a good resume photo if you do need to submit one.
When To Include a Picture on Your Resume
There are some instances where what you look like is integral to your ability to perform a certain job, like modeling or acting. In these cases, it is generally expected that you will submit photos along with your resume, and most employers will include specific instructions for how to do so.
It may also be acceptable to submit a headshot if you are applying for a high-profile public-facing role where you will be a visual representation of the company. When hiring for these types of positions, employers will generally want to ensure that candidates are pleasant-looking, approachable, and have a trustworthy demeanor. Again, if this is the case, the employer will likely ask for a photo.
If you feel that it’s appropriate for a potential employer to assess your looks as well as your professional qualifications, you can either include your photo directly on your resume, or add your LinkedIn URL to your resume header. That way, the employer can see what you look like in your LinkedIn profile photo, and you won’t have to use up valuable resume space on the picture.
Alternatively, you can submit your business card (that has a photo on it) with your application. However, not all online job application portals allow this.
It Depends on Where the Job Is Located
There are also different customs surrounding whether you should include a photo on your resume in various countries. For example, in the United States, Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom, it’s customary not to include a photo.
However, if you are applying to a position elsewhere in the world, the standards might be different. In Austria, The Netherlands, Belgium, France, Germany, Portugal, Spain, as well as Middle Eastern, African, Asian, and South American countries, it is generally recommended to include a photo.
For all other countries, it’s up to you whether to include a photo on your resume or not, but it’s generally better to err on the side of caution and not include one unless the employer specifically asks for it.
Tips for Taking a Good Resume Photo
If you’ve decided that it makes sense to include your picture on your resume, here are some tips to keep in mind while taking your photo:
Wear a Simple, Professional Top or Dress for the Role
If your profession has a standard of dress, consider wearing it for your resume photo, such as a suit if you are an attorney or a chef’s jacket if you are a chef. For most positions and professions, business casual is appropriate for a headshot. Wear a simple top that won’t distract from your smiling face, and don’t use your resume photo as an opportunity to make any loud fashion statements (unless you are applying for a position in the fashion industry, perhaps).
Do Your Hair and Makeup
Make sure your hair is tidy and well-styled (again, nothing flashy) and any makeup you are wearing is tasteful and professional. Basically, groom yourself as if you were going to an in-person job interview.
Take The Photo From a Flattering Angle
You may wish to hire a professional to take your headshot, as they will know all about angles, lighting, posing, and so forth. However, if you decide to take your own headshot, find an unobtrusive backdrop and use a tripod and a timer - no selfies. Place the camera slightly higher than eye-level to take an accurate, flattering image. Crop the photo to include only your head and shoulders.
Think of something pleasant or funny to ensure that your smile is genuine and reaches your eyes. Otherwise the photo may look overly formal or forced. Smile with teeth and look straight into the camera.
When Not To Include a Picture on Your Resume
Unless you are applying to be a model, actor, or highly visible company figurehead (or you are applying to a job in one of the above countries where resume photos are expected), do not include a picture of yourself on your resume. Instead, allow your professional experience, abilities, and qualifications to be the highlights of your resume.
In the vast majority of cases, what you look like has no bearing on how well you are able to perform a job, so including a photo of yourself on your resume is simply unneeded.
If an employer asks for a photo when you are applying for a job where your appearance doesn’t matter (i.e. the majority of positions), that can be a red flag and you may wish to just move on to the next job opening.
Why Including a Resume Photo Might Hurt Your Chances
There are several reasons why you should leave your picture off your resume:
The United States, Canada, Australia, and the UK all have strict anti-discrimination laws, which means that employers cannot under any circumstances hire someone (or not hire them) based on their race, age, appearance, gender, and so forth. So, many times employers will immediately discard resumes that include photos to protect themselves from potential discrimination lawsuits.
ATS Scan Problems
Applicant tracking system (ATS) software may not know what to do with a resume that includes a photo, and your resume might immediately be rejected by the scanner before it even reaches the hiring manager’s desk. While ATS software has improved in recent years, they can still be finicky systems, so it’s best to keep your resume layout simple, clear, and free of distractions like photos.
Space Constraints on Your Resume
Your resume should be no more than one page if you have less than 15 years of experience in your field, and no more than two pages if you have more experience than that. So, space will be limited once you’ve added your name and contact information, resume headline, resume summary or objective, work experience, education details, skills, and other optional resume sections.
Adding a photo can take as much as 25% of usable resume space, which can seriously limit the amount of actual text that you can fit. Including a photo directly on your resume should never take precedence over relevant information about your experience and qualifications.
Plus, you want your resume to look clean, professional, and uncluttered. Both ATS software and hiring managers are likely going to scan your resume in just a few seconds, and a wall of tiny text can cause a hiring manager to skip immediately to the next resume in the stack.
You only get one first impression, and it’s generally best to make that impression live and in person when you go in for an interview. The inclusion of your photo may affect the hiring manager’s objectivity, whether subconsciously or not - which goes back to the bias problem outlined above.
If an employer is considering calling you in for an interview, they will likely Google your name and take a look at your LinkedIn profile and other public social media, so they’ll probably end up seeing a photo of you anyways. However, at that stage, they have already decided that your qualifications are up to par or they wouldn’t invest additional time into looking you up online, so bias becomes less of a concern.
Many employers will reject an application if they can’t find the candidate’s LinkedIn profile, or if the profile isn’t updated and attractive. So, make it easy for potential employers by updating your LinkedIn profile and including the URL with your contact information on your resume.
Make sure to customize your LinkedIn URL before including it on your resume, and ensure that your profile picture is a professional headshot that will represent you well. Using the same photo of yourself across all platforms (LinkedIn, your Gmail account, online portfolios, etc.) will create a personal brand that’s easy for employers to remember.
And, again, your appearance very rarely has any impact on how well you can perform a job, so including a photo is essentially just providing unnecessary and irrelevant information.
Do not include a picture of yourself on your resume unless your appearance matters for the position or you are applying for a job abroad in a country where it’s expected to include a photo. It’s generally not necessary to put a photo on your resume and may actually hurt your chances of getting called in for an interview.
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