A Complete Guide To Including a Photo on a CV (With Tips)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 17 August 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

When looking for a job, it's important to establish a personal connection with potential employers. Your CV is most often the first impression an employer has of you, so it may be tempting to include a picture of yourself to provide them with a better idea of who you are. However, it's important to consider whether this is appropriate for the position that you're seeking. In this article, we discuss if you should include a photo on a CV and offer tips to help you make the decision and select the appropriate one.

Related: How To Write a CV (With Template and Example)

Should you put a photo on a CV?

Many people choose to include a photo on their CV to further personalise their application. However, it's best to avoid including a picture of yourself on your CV. While it's not illegal to add your picture to your CV, it may lead to unintentional bias within the hiring manager after they see your appearance. Similarly, your photo may distract from the most important function of your CV, which is to inform the reader about your qualifications and experience.

Jobs that require a personal photo

There may be times when it's appropriate to include a photo of yourself on your CV. For example, if you're applying for a job where your appearance affects your performance or if the employer hopes you have a certain appearance because it's a public-facing job, you may include a photo. Specific examples of jobs where you may include a photo include:

  • Actor

  • Model

  • PR representative

  • Salesperson

Most hiring managers and recruiters are used to receiving CVs both with and without photos on them. However, if you're unsure whether including a photo would be appropriate, it's better to leave it off of your resume. This may prevent unintentional complications during the hiring process.

Related: 10 Best Skills To Include on a CV

Tips for deciding on including a picture on your CV

Consider these tips as you decide if you want to include a photo on your CV:

Think about the tools recruiters use to filter applications

Most recruiters use an applicant tracking system (ATS) to scan and filter job applications. This way, they can narrow down dozens of applications to the most qualified candidates. Keep in mind that some ATS software may struggle to review certain resume formats, especially those that include images. If you're concerned about this possibility but still want to include a photo, consider emailing a copy of your CV to the hiring manager directly.

Consider potential bias

Including a picture on your CV lets the hiring manager know what you look like. Revealing your appearance alerts them to your gender, age, race and other factors that may lead to discriminatory hiring practices. While the law prevents companies from discriminating against you based on these factors, including your headshot may create unintentional bias within the hiring manager, leading to potential legal issues for the organisation.

Related: How To Avoid Ageism During Your Job Search (With CV Tips)

Review your document

A CV shouldn't exceed more than a few pages in length, therefore, it's important that you focus on your most important qualifications. It's also essential that you create a well-organised document that's easy for hiring managers to read and understand. Adjusting the formatting to make space for a photo may lead you to compromise on other more essential discussion points.

Determine if you're working with a recruiter

As you search for jobs, you make work with headhunters, whose job is to submit applications on your behalf to organisations. Headhunters often review and adjust your CV before submitting it to potential employers. Most of the time they remove photos from CVs, so not including one in the first place eliminates additional work for them to do.

Think about your first impression

When applying for a job, you only have one opportunity to make a first impression. It may be more powerful to make your first impression when meeting in person for the first time rather than through a photograph on your CV. This helps prevent the hiring manager from potentially subconsciously losing their objectivity when reviewing your CV and determining if they want to invite you to complete an interview.

Related: Job Interview Tips: How To Make a Great Impression

Consider your online presence

Many employers research job candidates online before interviewing or hiring them. In their research, employers are likely to find other pictures of you online, revealing what you look like without you providing a photo of yourself. Similarly, consider if the application required you to submit your online portfolio or website. If so, this likely includes a picture of you, making it redundant to include one on your CV.

Review the job posting

Review the job posting before making your final decision about whether to include your picture. Some organisations may explicitly request that you avoid providing a picture of yourself as part of the application. However, other jobs, such as acting or modelling jobs, may request you to provide a headshot or even a portfolio of images of yourself. Be sure to abide by the requests of your potential employer.

Tips for what picture to include on your CV

If you choose to add a photo to your CV, use these tips as a guide for determining which photo to use:

Dress based on the company culture

Research the company's culture and try to learn more about their dress code. Use your research as a reference for how you should dress in your photograph. For example, if you're applying for a business position, wearing a suit may be appropriate, but if you're applying to be a chef, wearing a chef's jacket may be more appropriate. Similarly, if you're pursuing acting or modelling jobs, consider wearing a casual but professional outfit.

Choose your outfit carefully

In addition to dressing based on company culture and the position, it's important to select clothing carefully. Select plain clothing with solid colours and avoid choosing outfits with patterns, slogans or oversized logos. This can help reduce distractions in your photograph.

Hire a professional photographer

Be sure to ask someone with the proper skill set to shoot your photo for your CV. While you may ask someone you trust, consider hiring a professional photographer. Many professionals offer reasonable rates and business headshot packages. They typically also edit the photos for you, too.

Match it with your online profiles

Use the same photo on your professional social media profiles as you do your CV. This helps create a consistent personal brand as recruiters research you. Similarly, it helps prevent confusion about who you are or what you look like.

Use a headshot

Avoid using a selfie captured with your smartphone. If possible, use a high-quality camera to take a professional picture that captures your head and shoulders. However, if you're unable to use a camera, it's acceptable to use a smartphone as long as it's not a selfie and it's of a professional standard.

Be natural

Ensure your photograph is an addition to your CV and not a distraction. Choose a natural style of hair and makeup, and select an outfit that is simple yet professional. Take your photo in front of a neutral backdrop.

Size the photo appropriately

Be mindful of how you size your picture on your resume. It's important that your photo is large enough so people can determine what you look like, but it's equally important to avoid making your photo too big and wasting important space on your CV. In general, a small photo similar in size to a passport photo is appropriate.

Think about angles

Photos shot from a good angle with proper lighting can help you capture a flattering image. Try to use natural light and strive for an angle that's even with or just below the camera lens. Working with a professional photographer can help ensure the quality of your image.

Smile

Include a photo where you're naturally smiling at the camera. It's important that your smile is genuine. This can help you achieve a look that's approachable, friendly and professional.

Consider grooming

Reflect your excellent personal grooming habits through your CV photograph. Consider getting a haircut before taking your professional photos to ensure your hair looks neat and healthy. Before the day you take your photos, wash your hair and clean your skin, and be sure to style your hair in a classic, professional style.

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