​A photo on your CV - to be or not to be?

Should you plaster a photo of yourself on the front of your CV when applying for a job?

It’s a big question.

One that’s asked frequently. But frankly, not one that’s easy to answer.

Does the hiring manager really need to know what you look like to get a job? After all, It’s your skills that matter, right?

Well, that depends.

It turns out that there isn’t a single right answer to this question. How hiring managers react depends very much on their professional expectations and company hiring policy. Historically, career advisors advocated against including photos for most job applicants. But  with the rise of social media (Linkedin in particular) nowadays it’s not so clear cut.

Why You Might Not Want To Include a photo on your CV

There are several reasons why most career advisors advise against putting photos on CVs. Overwhelmingly, they have to do with ‘unconscious bias’.

Not including your photo protects candidates from being discriminated against and employers from allegations of discrimination - based on race, age or gender to name a few.

These days, many companies review CVs blind - looking at objective job-related factors instead of subjective matters, such as a candidate’s appearance. Some even go as far as not looking at an applicant’s name when compiling shortlists to avoid any bias. Adding a photo to your CV in this situation, therefore, is probably not the best idea.

The exception to this being for actors and models where appearance is a key part of the hiring process. For example, Robert Downey Jr can’t reasonably play the part of Belle in Beauty and the Beast and Danny Devito can't become a catwalk model. Industry standards forbid it. 

How To Include A Photo

If you ultimately decide to include a photo in your CV, be sure to follow some sensible rules of thumb:

  • Get your picture taken professionally with the correct background and proportions.
  • Don’t post a selfie on your CV: hiring managers will usually judge you negatively for this.
  • Make sure that the photo fits squarely in the space provided.
  • Don’t use a dated photo - keep it as current as possible.

Ideally, you want your photo to reflect well professionally on you. Therefore, it should epress your professional acumen and character. Lawyers, for instance, should appear presentable and professional. By contrast, adventure activity organisers should appear energetic, engaged and enthusiastic. You get the picture (pun intended).

Other Ways To Introduce Yourself

Of course, you don’t have to include your photo directly on your CV - you can include it into your application through other means.

For example, some people attach a photo business card to their resume. They do this so that their new employer can pass on their details easily to people while networking. However, the primary purpose is to get your photo to the hiring manager, past all the usual filters.

If you have a LinkedIn profile, you can do something similar. Some candidates, for instance, provide hyperlinks to their pages within electronic CVs that hiring managers can click. By doing so, you’re providing the manager with additional background information on you and your suitability - this can be super useful if you have linked recommendations you’d like to show off.

Some Final Advice

Most people land jobs without including photos of themselves, so it is by no means a requirement. It doesn’t matter what you look like for the vast majority of roles so we recommend only using a photo if it’s a compulsory requirement.

Most candidates should just focus on quality writing when constructing a CV. You want the hiring manager to come away with the impression that you’re an expert in your field, and you really understand what you’re doing. After all, that’s what they want to see. Most companies don’t care what you look like, so long as you can do the job well.

Check out our CV examples for CV examples with and without photos.

Or give our CV builder a go and create your perfect CV now

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