Should You Add a Photo to Your Resume?

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You may think having a photo of yourself on your resume will help you jump to the top of the candidate list. You want to show off your polished, professional appearance and friendly smile to make a better impression on hiring managers. Adding a photo is a natural step when it comes to your LinkedIn profile or other online job sites, but should you include one on your resume? When in doubt, ask professional resume writers

In general: Don’t

The general rule says keep your resume photo-free. There are some exceptions, but for the most part, you shouldn’t have a photo on your resume. 

The main reason to not add a photo is to avoid discrimination. When hiring managers look at your resume, they don’t know what you look like. Obviously, they’ll see you if you get an interview, but at that point, you’ve already gotten past the initial step, and the recruiter will have a harder time discriminating against you if they’re so inclined. 

Discrimination can come in many forms—maybe they don’t like your ethnicity, maybe they deem you too old, maybe they believe you’re seriously overweight, or maybe they simply think you’re ugly. So, by adding a photo to your resume, you may kill your chances of being considered for the job. 

When to include a photo

Of course, you should add a photo to your LinkedIn profile and other online job sites, but not on your actual resume—usually. When is it acceptable or even required to have a headshot on your resume?

First, if you’re applying for a job abroad, the employer may require you to include a photo of yourself. While having no photo on your resume is standard practice in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada, most European countries require photos on resumes, as do Middle Eastern, South American, and many Asian countries, such as Japan. This could be due to a number of reasons, but sometimes international job inquiries involve greater precautions and security. 

Second, you may have to include a photo because of the job. If you’re applying to be a performer (singer, dancer, actor, model, etc.), the company will probably want to see your resume photo first. In these jobs, your appearance is a major factor in getting hired—especially in the case of actors and models—so your resume photo is a natural part of the process.

Finally, some companies may simply require a photo, even if it doesn’t have anything to do with getting hired, perhaps for security purposes—if, for example, all your interactions are digital, they may want to verify you’re a real person. While this is uncommon for U.S. jobs, it does happen sometimes. So, if an employer asks for a resume photo, submit one. Otherwise, don’t. 

Recommendations for your resume photo

If you have to add a photo, make sure you choose one that enhances your professional resume. 

To begin with, choose a photo that represents who you are as a professional. Don’t go with a picture that includes all your family or friends—you should be the only person in it. Companies want to know who you are, not who everyone else in your life is. You could hire a photographer to take professional shots, but you could also have a friend take a good professional picture of you. Just make sure you use a high-quality camera—a digital camera is best, but a smartphone camera also works as long as it’s not all scratched up. Selfies are a big no-no, but you can still take your own picture if you set your camera up on a tripod and use the timer feature.

Next, choose a recent photo—hiring managers want to know what you look like now. Obviously, your picture should be flattering, but it should also accurately reflect your current appearance.

Finally, remember to go with a headshot. Recruiters don’t need a full body shot (unless they ask for it). They only care about seeing your face, so make sure that’s the focus of the picture. Like a passport photo, a resume photo shouldn’t go below your shoulders.

In general, you shouldn’t have a picture on your resume, but there are exceptions to this rule. If you’re not sure whether you fall into the exception category or need help creating a professional-looking resume photo, ask one of our resume experts to help.

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