Will including a photograph on your resume help or hurt you chances of getting hired?

Should you put a photograph on your resume? If you've already added a photo to your LinkedIn profile, it's only natural to wonder if including a headshot photo on your resume will improve your chances of getting noticed and hired.

While there's isn't a universal rule about including a photograph on a resume, below are some guidelines that will help you understand when a photo belongs on your resume — and when it's in your best interest to remove it from your job application altogether. 

When you should not include a photograph on your resume

When it comes to including photos on resumes, you'll find that HR professionals and professional resume writers agree that a resume should not include a photograph. There are exceptions, of course, which I'll explain further below. However, generally speaking, you should not put a photo on your resume. 

Why is a photo on a resume considered a bad idea? Well, your photo will likely reveal your race, gender, and age — among other factors — that could inadvertently lead to discrimination in the hiring process. There's no need to provide an employer with those details before they've considered your application based solely on your qualifications. In fact, many employers try to avoid unconscious bias in their recruitment by disregarding resumes that contain photos.

In addition, some recruiters consider candidates who include headshots to be egotistical at best and lacking sound judgment at worst. When TopResume asked recruiters, hiring managers, and human resources executives, “What are your biggest resume 'deal-breakers' that can cost a candidate the job?”, “including a headshot” made the list of top 10 worst offenses

When you should put a photo on your resume

While it's typically a bad idea to include a photo on your resume, there are a few situations when a headshot does belong on your resume or as part of your overall job application: 

  • Headshot requirement: If you're applying for a job in the entertainment industry (e.g. models, actors, dancers) and your “look” is part of the job, then you should include a photograph of yourself. However, don't put the photo directly on your resume; rather, include the image as part of your overall application. If you have an online portfolio of your work, it's perfectly acceptable — and encouraged — to include a link to your site at the top of your resume, along with your other contact details. 

  • International applications: If you're seeking a position outside of the United States, you'll find that some countries will expect your CV to include a photo of yourself. These include member countries in the European Union (EU); Latin America (e.g. Brazil, Venezuela, Peru, Argentina), with the exception of Mexico; Southeast Asia (e.g. Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam); and the Middle East (e.g. Turkey, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates). 

Tips for selecting a photograph for your resume

If you're planning to apply for a position in a country where a resume photo is standard, then you should follow the same guidelines you would when selecting a photo for your LinkedIn profile. When deciding which headshot to use, keep the following elements in mind:

  • Professional: The selfie you took with your friends at the bar last weekend is not appropriate for your job search. Instead, choose a professional-looking, high-resolution photo in which your outfit complements the industry you're pursuing. If you're short on funds or simply not interested in investing in a professional headshot, ask a friend who owns a decent camera to take a picture of you in a well-lit area and with a simple backdrop that won't compete with your face for attention.

  • Relevant: While you may love how you look in an older photo, you're better off if you opt for a recent photo of yourself — and only yourself. Employers don't expect — or want — to see a family photo or other group shot on your resume, and they aren't interested in a headshot that's a decade old. Your photo should reflect what you look like now.

  • Cropped: Remember, your photo should be a headshot, rather than a full-length body shot. Select a photo where your face takes up approximately 60 percent of the frame. Crop the image from just below the top of your shoulders to just above your head so that the emphasis is placed on your face.

If you don't know whether to include a photograph on your resume or not, you're not alone. There are so many nuances when it comes to writing an effective resume for today's job market that it's hard for anyone other than a professional writer to keep track. If you decide to work with a professional resume writer, trust that they are trained to apply the current resume-writing best practices to your document. 

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