Will including a picture on your resume help or hurt your 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 picture on your resume will improve your chances of getting noticed and hired.

While there isn't a universal rule about including a picture on a resume, below are some guidelines that will help you to 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 picture on your resume

When it comes to including pictures 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 are explained further below. However, generally speaking, you should not put a picture on your resume. 

Why is a picture on a resume considered a bad idea? 

Some countries, like the United States, have strict labor and anti-discrimination laws. Since your photo will likely reveal your race, gender, and age - among other factors - that could inadvertently lead to discrimination in the hiring process, it makes employers in these countries uncomfortable when they see your picture on a resume. Plus, there's no need to provide an employer with those types of details before they've considered your application based solely on your qualifications. In fact, many employers try to avoid discrimination claims and unconscious bias in their recruitment process 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 resume offenses

Additional reasons to not include a picture on your resume are:

When you should include a picture on your resume

While it's typically a bad idea to include a picture 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 unless requested to do so; 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). 

If you're unclear whether it's ok to incorporate a picture on a resume in your country, it's best to err on the side of caution and not include one. If an employer really wants a photo as part of the application process, they'll ask for one. Also, the majority of recruiters and hiring managers will search for you online if they're considering you for an interview, so they'll likely see a photo of you on your social profiles

Tips for selecting the best picture for your resume

If you're planning to apply for a position in a country or profession 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% 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.

Do I fall in the include or don't include a photo category?

If you don't know whether to include a picture on your resume, 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

Why not submit your resume for a free review to ensure it covers all the nuances required to write an effective resume? Our team of professional resume writers is here to provide the expertise you need. 

This article was originally written by Amanda Augustine and has been updated by Ronda Suder.

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