The ultime guide on including a photo to a resume: Do’s and don’ts in 2021
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The goal of every resume is to introduce your skills, experience, and qualifications to a recruiter. In addition to a motivational letter, it’s also your marketing weapon, designed to impress and land you an interview. But if it’s your abilities that matter, you might wonder why many resumes include a photo of a candidate.
The research on whether you should add it will leave you with conflicting opinions. Yes. No. Maybe.
To help you decide, we analyzed the pros and cons of a resume photo. We collected and gathered all information to unveil when including a picture makes you stand out among other candidates and when it can hurt your odds of being hired.
Here’s what we discovered.
Europe: Cv photo tips
In most parts of Europe, recruiters will expect to see the face behind the CV. Job descriptions won’t explicitly state that, but it’s a common expectation, and not fulfilling it can reduce your chances.
Here are the countries where candidates should attach a photo on a resume.
- Balkan countries
- Czech Republic
- Scandinavian countries
A CV without a photo probably won’t be considered in Austria, Germany, and Spain. But countries like Belgium, Finland, Italy, Greece, Czech Republic, Russia, and Slovakia won’t disregard your application if you decide to skip it because a resume photo is more optional.
Recruiters in the countries where a CV picture is a norm believe that it gives a complete presentation and chance to connect with the candidate.
But if you’re applying for a job in the United Kingdom, Latvia, or Lithuania, you shouldn’t attach a photo on a CV unless stated otherwise. They either have strict anti-discrimination and labor laws or don’t generally have a practice of resume photos.
Companies in these nations strive to focus solely on a candidate’s skills and qualifications, and photos might incite unethical profiling.
The United States, Canada, Australia and New zealand: Resume photo tips
The U.S. is one of the countries where putting a photo on a resume is a bad idea. The recruiters in this country have to follow the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) strict policies. Employers shouldn’t request a photograph of an applicant because it might incite discrimination based on sex, race, or age.
Canada applies similar anti-discrimination rules, which prevent recruiters from requiring a picture from job seekers.
The norms and expectations are not much different in Australia. Down under, candidates are discouraged from adding a picture to a resume because it’s unnecessary as it tells nothing about someone’s skills. Thus, whether it’s because of a subconscious bias or not, a candidate’s photo can trigger prejudice and bigotry. However, it’s not a rule that you shouldn’t add a picture.
Like in Australia, candidates in New Zealand are not expected to include a resume photo. It is not a rule, but recruiters will rather see your headshot picture on LinkedIn and other relevant social media than in your job-application document.
Asia: Resume photo tips
The unique culture of Asian countries shows in distinctive norms and rules for job resumes. Here are the tips on whether they should include a photo.
- Japan – If you are applying for a job in Japan, you will have to use a different resume called rirekisho. What makes them specific is that they are traditionally handwritten, and you’ll have to put a passport-sized photo on your CV.
- China – The standards are more relaxed in China, but you will have to give two copies of your resume, one in Chinese and another in English. Both versions should have a professional headshot picture on them.
- India – It is not mandatory to put a photo on a resume, but it’s encouraged. It should be passport-sized, and you should opt for a professional or formal look.
- The Emirates – Adding a photo to a CV is not a requirement in the UAE, but people usually include it. If you decide to put a picture, it should be professional and placed at the side of your personal information.
Pros and cons of including a photo on a resume
Not every country has strict or specific norms and rules on whether a CV should include a photo, which leaves it up to the candidate to decide. If you are still unsure what’s the best answer, here are the benefits and disadvantages of a resume photo that you can apply to the job role you are applying for and the country.
Top 3 reasons why a CV picture is a good idea
- A humanizing effect – Human brains are programmed to see faces in everyday objects, and that phenomenon is known as pareidolia. Even if there’s no photo on a resume, recruiters will likely imagine how the candidate might look or seek their profile on social media. Looking for faces is an innate human need because we are hardwired to respond to them. A 2011 research found that we have specialized neural circuits called fusiform gyrus that react only to faces.
Adding a photo to a resume creates a humanizing effect by showing the person behind the words. It allows recruiters to feel a connection with a candidate and perceive them in a friendlier manner.
- Defining one’s professional brand – You heard it many times: job seekers are indeed products trying to sell themselves and their expertise to an employer. You should also know that people are 65 percent more likely to remember information three days after when paired with a relevant image.
Besides looking for work, you’re building your brand. Visual identity is a part of every great brand, and it should be consistent, meaning that you should use the same photo for a resume, social media, and other relevant platforms. By adding a picture to a CV, you’re increasing your odds of recruiters remembering you and leaving an impression of a confident and professional candidate.
- Creative fields, entertainment and fashion industry – Some professions subtly or explicitly require adding a picture on a resume. The recruiters in industries where a brand, personal expression, or looks play a significant role will expect to see your face. If you are a model, musician, book author, journalist, or actor, your appearance will, to some extent, be a deciding factor in whether you will get the job.
Top 3 reasons why a resume photo is a bad idea
- Risk of discrimination – Sadly, we don’t live in a utopia, safe from bias, prejudices, and stereotypes. Whether they’re aware of that or not, a candidate’s photo will influence recruiters’ assessment process. It is why some countries, such as the U.S., have strict rules prohibiting employers from requiring a candidate’s picture.
- It is not relevant – Whether something is of paramount importance for a job role, always decides if we will include information. In most cases, photos prove unnecessary because they don’t determine someone’s skills, education, and qualifications. Hence, if your profession isn’t visual or creative, you don’t want to risk looking unprofessional. Except if it’s a general norm or rule in the country, it’s better to leave your photo out.
- It takes up valuable space – As you progress in your career, you have more material that can impress recruiters. But there’s usually not enough space for all the relevant skills, experience, and certificates in resumes between one and two pages long. If you add a photo, you lose even more valuable space. By excluding a headshot that usually doesn’t say much about your abilities, you declutter your CV and add space for valuable content, such as achievements and non-formal education.
How to take a professional resume photo
Sometimes you can’t avoid including a photo on a resume because the profession or country requires it. But as you have only seven seconds to get a recruiter’s attention, you should take a great picture.
Here are the tips for a professional resume photo that will make you stand out.
- Dress accordingly – Choose a formal and professional look that will show your confidence and competence. Unless you’re a banker, lawyer, or flight attendant, you don’t have to wear a business suit. But you should dress what you would for a regular day of work. To clear out the doubts, research whether a company you’re applying for has a dress code.
- Hire a professional photographer – If possible, invest money in professional resume photographs because it can make a difference that will land you a job you want so much.
- Don’t take a selfie picture – Avoid selfie photos that leave an impression of a lazy or self-centered person. Instead, ask a friend to take a photo of you, and make sure it’s from the shoulders up. Also, don’t crop a group photo or choose an old picture that doesn’t look like you anymore.
- No distractions – Avoid experimenting with your hair, makeup, jewelry, and style. Ensure that you have a simple background behind you, and don’t photoshop or alter your photo.
- Quality – If your photo is not a high-quality resolution, if it’s out of focus or blurry, you might leave a wrong impression. The picture should complement your career, personality, and looks while being tidy, professional, and genuine.
Adjust with the norms and play it safe
Life gives you plenty of opportunities for risk. Your resume shouldn’t be one of them. It is better to read job descriptions carefully, visit the website of the organization you’re applying for, and check the country’s norms and rules. That will give you a clear idea of whether you should include a photo on your resume.
But whether a photo is a norm or not, include your LinkedIn profile on a resume and ensure you have the same picture because it gives consistency and professionalism to your brand.