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Should I Include My Photo on My Resume? (and Alternatives)

When you’re sprucing up your resume, you might wonder if adding a photo of yourself will give you an edge.

In some countries, it’s a standard practice, but it’s less common in the United States due to equal employment opportunity regulations.

Generally, unless you’re in a field where your looks are directly related to the job, such as acting or modeling, it’s better to focus on your skills and experiences.

(If you’re applying for a job overseas, do a little homework on the cultural norms of the country. For example, in many European countries, including a headshot is expected. On the other hand, in the UK and Ireland, your picture is often not necessary.)

If you opt out of including a photo, there are alternatives: for example, your LinkedIn profile can house your professional picture, and you can add the URL to your resume. This way, you maintain a professional appearance online, and employers can see your face if they choose to look you up.

Cultural Norms and Resume Pictures

Deciding whether to include a picture on your resume can significantly impact your job application and varies widely with cultural expectations.

When to Include a Resume Picture

In certain circumstances, adding a photo to your resume may give you an edge.

You might consider attaching a headshot when applying for jobs where your appearance is directly related to the position, such as acting or modeling.

Additionally, if you’re in a niche industry where personal branding is a key component—for example, real estate—it is often common and beneficial to include a professional picture.

Regions Where Resume Pictures Are Expected

Resume pictures are not globally accepted and, in fact, are frowned upon in some countries.

However, in some European countries, Asia, and the Middle East, adding a photo to your resume is often the norm.

For instance, employers in France and Germany prefer receiving applications with a photograph attached. Similarly, if you’re applying for a job in China or Japan, it’s likely expected that you will include a professional headshot with your application materials.

When deciding to include a picture, always research the usual practices in the region where you are applying.

Pros and Cons of Including a Picture

Including your photo on a resume can be a personal choice, and it’s important to weigh the benefits and drawbacks before you decide.

Here’s a look at what you might consider:

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Pros:

  • Personal Touch: A photo can give a face to your application, making it feel more personal for the hiring team.
  • Branding: If you’re in a field where appearance is key (like acting or modeling), your photo is part of your brand.
  • International Applications: In some countries, it’s expected that candidates include a picture with their job application.

Cons:

  • Bias: Unfortunately, including a picture can lead to unconscious biases, which might affect your chances regardless of qualifications.
  • Professionalism: Some employers consider resumes with photos less professional and may discard them.
  • Privacy: Sharing your photo increases your digital footprint and may affect your privacy.

Job Roles and Industries Favoring Profile Images

Certain industries and job roles favor the inclusion of a profile picture on your resume due to the nature of the work.

  • In the realm of hospitality and customer service, your image can be seen as part of the job. For instance, if you’re applying for positions like front desk attendant or flight attendant, a picture could help employers visualize you in the role.
  • In the entertainment sector, including acting, modeling, or television, your appearance may directly influence casting decisions or suitability for particular tasks. It’s important to include a clear headshot in these instances.
  • Sales and real estate also tend to welcome photographs on resumes. In these fields, making a good first impression and establishing trust is pivotal, so a professional image can contribute positively.
  • Creative industries like graphic design or advertising may encourage photos as a way to showcase your personal brand and creativity. However, ensure your picture aligns with the professional image these roles require.
  • Marketing and public relations can be another area where your personal image supports your resume, especially if the role is public-facing. Often, your ability to present yourself can reflect your capacity to represent the brand.

For jobs where appearance is not a critical aspect, it’s better to focus on skills, accomplishments, and qualifications.

Make your decision based on the specific role and industry conventions. If in doubt, researching the norms or reaching out to HR departments can provide clarity.

Creating a Professional Image

When you decide to include a photo on your resume, it’s important that you present a professional image. This signals to potential employers that you take your job application seriously and understand the importance of a first impression.

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Tips for Taking a Resume Photo

  • Consider the background of your photo; a neutral, clutter-free backdrop is best.
  • Your face should be clearly visible, so good lighting is key. Avoid using a selfie; instead, ask someone else to take the photo or use a timer so that you can position yourself properly.
  • You should aim for a headshot from the shoulders up, making sure your eyes are directed at the camera to create a sense of engagement.
  • A high-resolution image is a must; this ensures that your picture remains clear even when printed or viewed on different devices.
  • If possible, hire a professional photographer: they can help you with all these details.

Dressing for Your Resume Picture

Your attire for the resume photo should match the norms of your industry.

  • If you’re applying for a corporate position, a suit or a smart blazer is a safe choice. For creative fields, you can show a bit of your personal style, but still keep it professional.
  • Make sure your clothes are neat and well-fitting; this conveys that you are organized and pay attention to detail.
  • Solid colors are usually the way to go because they photograph well and don’t distract from your face. It’s a good idea to avoid overly bright colors or busy patterns.
  • Make sure your hair is styled neatly and your overall appearance is tidy. Your goal is to convey professionalism and confidence through your appearance.

Alternatives to Including a Picture on Your Resume

  • Setting up a LinkedIn profile is a good start. Here, you can have a professional headshot that gives employers a visual while keeping your resume text-based.
  • Make sure the profile is comprehensive and mirrors the professionalism of your resume.
  • If applicable, consider creating a personal website or online portfolio that showcases your work, and include the URL in your resume header.

Resume Formatting With and Without a Photo

When deciding if you should add a picture to your resume, consider the industry norms and the cultural expectations of the country where you’re applying for a job.

For example, in the US and UK, including a photo isn’t typical and can be seen as inappropriate. However, in certain European countries, like Germany and France, it could be expected.

If you choose to include a photo, it’s important to keep your resume clean and professional.

Place your photo in the top corner of your document. The picture should be a professional headshot, not a casual snapshot.

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Make sure the format doesn’t distract from the key information: your experience and qualifications.

If you decide not to include a photo, you have more space to showcase your skills and experiences.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it recommended to include a photo on my resume?

Usually, you should not include a photo on your resume, especially if you’re applying for jobs in the United States, Canada, or the UK.

Employers in these countries may discard resumes with photos to avoid any accusations of discrimination.

However, in certain industries like acting or modeling, your appearance is a legitimate qualification, and a headshot would be appropriate.

What are the professional guidelines for adding a headshot to my resume?

If you do choose to add a headshot to your resume, make sure it’s a professional photo.

This means that the photo should feature you in business attire, with a neutral background, and a friendly, approachable expression. Selfies or casual photos are typically seen as unprofessional.

How can I decide whether to put my picture on my resume or not?

Consider the norms of the industry and the country where you’re seeking employment.

If you are unsure, conduct research or ask for advice from professionals in the field.

If the job application instructions explicitly state to include or exclude a photo, follow those directions.

Are there any legal concerns with placing my picture on my resume?

Yes, including a picture on your resume could potentially lead to unconscious bias or discrimination and is thus a legal concern for employers.

This is why many companies prefer not to receive resumes with photos. You should be aware of the laws and regulations in the country or state where you’re applying.

What are some alternative ways to enhance my resume without using a picture?

To enhance your resume without a photo, focus on the content.

You can highlight your skills, experience, and accomplishments with clear headings and bullet points.

A link to your professional online profile, like LinkedIn, can also provide employers with more information.

Posted in: Job Interview