A Photo For Your Resume - The Good, The Bad, and The Exceptions

A champion’s résumé writing guide

Jan 21, 2020 · 8 mins read

A regular question for 21st-century job seekers is whether you should include a photo on your resume. Is a photo important in CV? Will it improve your chances of getting noticed and landing the role? To look professional, should your cv have a photo?

Things aren’t so clear cut on the answer to these questions, although in the past it’s been seen as a bad idea in most fields. However, as with everything nowadays, the answer can be anything from no to yes, to hmmm, maybe?

Should your resume have a photo?Everyone who creates a resume wonders whether a photo is necessary or not. To make the right decision, you need to figure out what function the photography performs in the resume.

We’re going to try and get some clarity on the issue in this article, and give you some tips and guidelines about when and when not to include a photo to your CV, what images to use, as well as other ways to stand out from the job-hunting crowd.

Hit me with the basics

So, can a resume have a photo or not?

For the naysayers, the logic for not adding your best headshot to your CV is to make sure you’re not going to be discriminated against because of your race, age, weight, gender, attractiveness, or personal style. By choosing to add your picture, bias-free recruitment is still going to be tantalizingly out of reach for many.

What should make your resume on point are your skills, achievements, and experience, not your on fleek hairdo.

To make your CV head and shoulders above the rest, and best represent who you are, you can download our free resume templates! We’ve got you covered whatever your needs: whether you want a resume with photos templates or without. Create and download yours with ease!

If you’re preparing an application for an on-camera role like acting, newscasting, or modeling, then yes, your face is going to be important and you’re going to want to add your photo.

For pretty much any other profession, what your next boss wants to see is what you can do, what you already know what you’ve achieved before, and how you did in school. They shouldn’t care about your face, and if they do, do you want to work with them?

SweetCV resume editor with photoWhat should make your resume on point are your skills, achievements, and experience, not your on fleek hairdo.

If they’re that bothered about knowing what you look like they may give you a Google and probably find you on social media without much effort (reasons to have profiles on lockdown…).

Whether you want them to or not, and whether you think it’s ethical or not, recruiters may usually find your selfies without adding it to your resume yourself. So, resumes without a photo are totally OK .

The right time for putting a photo on your resume

If your looks will make the company money

There are lots of roles where you meet clients, customers, and business stakeholders regularly and where you’re basically the first face associated with the company, think of working a front desk, public relations, hospitality, handling walk-ins, guest relationships, etc.

If you’re applying for this type of role then a photo might help in the selection process, as with jobs like acting and modeling, obviously.

The CV photo will definitely become useful for some jobs.The CV photo will definitely become useful for vacancies in television fields, as well as for those who will be the person representing the company in business negotiations.

If you’re applying in the EU and some other places

There are some countries where a photo is standard when applying for a position, so to show you’ve done your research make sure you do add a photo to your resume. Although not exhaustive, here’s a list of some places a decent headshot is required:

  • The European Union (EU)
  • South East Asia, e.g. the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam
  • The Middle East
In some countries, the presence of a photo in a CV is obligatory when applying for a vacancy.There are countries where the photo in a resume is the same obligatory part of the document as work experience, skills, etc. Be sure to consider this when applying for a job in other countries.

If it helps to build your brand

Also, when you work in a creative industry, you’re selling not just your work but you as a whole package.

As an example, think about writers and journalists; you normally see a photo of the writer next to their article or blog as well as their name on the byline.

This is good exposure for the writer and gives them credibility and status as a thought leader, as well as showing that the publisher follows best practice. If you’re working in this type of industry, sending off a resume with photo attached is a good idea.

Once you’ve figured out that you do actually need to add a photo, the next question is “how do I put a picture on my resume?” Ideally, you want to drop the picture at the top of the page so it’s clear and noticeable.

Make sure it’s a well taken, preferably by a professional photographer - no beach selfies or cropped group shots in bars as well as no photos downloaded from the photo stock! Make your resume picture classy. For easy decision read our guide about how to pick your best photography for a CV.

When adding a pic is not the best idea

If your job isn’t about looks

A world without discrimination would be a great place, and even with the laws in place against it, it still happens quite often.

Don’t give the hiring manager the opportunity to even consider discriminating on your age, gender, or race: don’t add a photo and let your skills and experience do the talking instead.

Do not upload your funny pictures to your resume.Do not upload your funny pictures to your resume.

If you’re applying in US or Canada

As much as a photo is expected on your CV in a lot of countries, there are still plenty where it would be seen as unexpected and even a little weird. For example, you wouldn’t send your resume with photo included in:

  • The USA
  • The UK
  • Australia
  • Canada

With the exception of roles like acting and modeling, of course.

Want to get your resume pumped out and ready to send? SweetCV resume builder has creative solutions ready for you to get started. There are free templates for customizable resumes, with or without a photo, ready to whip your job applications into shape. Choose your winning template and download it straight away!

If no photo, then what?

Rather than showing the company what you look like with a photo on your CV, shine a light on what you’re going to be able to do for them and tell them how you’re going to add value. Business is interested in the bottom line, not your hairline, so tell your prospective employer about your sales record, profit generation history, or customer service skills.

When you emphasize what a great addition to the company you’re going to be they shouldn’t care what you look like. Of course, we’ve given some examples of when a photo is going to be useful, so make sure you make the right decision for the job and industry you’re aiming to get employed in.

Include the URL of your LinkedIn profile

You’ve probably already got a professional-looking photo on your LinkedIn profile, and you’ve collected a lot of your career information there already. Use that information to show recruiters your work history. When the job you’re going for might benefit from showing your face off, adding your LinkedIn account is an acceptable way to get eyes on your photo without being too upfront about it.

Add a photo to your networking resume

Although we’ve spent plenty of time telling you why not to include a photo on your resume, here’s another exception. If you’re hitting a conference or networking event and planning on handing out your resume, adding a photo is going to make your new contacts remember you when going over your profile later on.

Include a business card with your resume and photo

Another handy hint when you’re going all out at networking events is to add your business card along with a photo and resume as part of the bundle you pass out. Once your details, picture, and job history are all in a fresh contact’s hands they can refer you on to another networking contact as a full set.

Business card with photoIt is not necessary to upload photos to the resume to show yourself to the employer. Use business cards and email signatures.

Wrapping Up

The big question is, is it OK to include a photo on your resume or not? The answer isn’t as clear cut as you want it to be.

There are times when attaching a photo can work, but it doesn’t mean that you should do it. Thousands of employers might actually throw you on the ‘no’ pile if they think it’s not appropriate, without even looking at what you can do. Your resume is all about the value you can add to a company, so consider what value your photo can add to your CV.

You need to know your market too. In countries like the UK, USA, and Canada you’ll be told that it’s not normal to add your headshot, yet in plenty of countries it’s expected to be present, think Asia and continental Europe.

Understand the particular job sector you’re applying for too; photos are de rigueur for actors and models and useful for front desk positions. Use your judgment and the tips in this article to decide whether a photo is going to work on the resume you’re sending out.

Whichever way your decision breaks, your experience and skills are what are going to land you your dream job. Our powerful online resume builder is ready and waiting to help you get tailor-make your perfect resume in a hot minute. Whether you’re a construction worker, Java developer, or operations manager - we’ve got your back!