Should You Include a Photo on Your Resume?

Updated: Nov 7, 2019


Answering the question how to write a resume is easy, but creating a stand-out resume can be more challenging. In today’s competitive job market, there’s a heightened focus on personal branding and differentiating yourself from the crowded field—but, in many cases, doing things differently can grab the wrong type of attention. One such instance is including a photo on your resume. Simply put, the overwhelming majority of job seekers will be better served having a resume tailored to the position they’re applying for—that highlights their accomplishments and what they’ll bring to the new position—rather than their smiling faces.



Just Say “No” to Including Your Picture on Your Resume


Tradition: Recruiters and hiring managers look through copious amounts of resumes in any given week and are accustomed to seeing information presented in a particular way. Diverging from the traditional resume format might portray you as inexperienced or unprofessional.

Bias: Most employers don’t want you to send in a resume with a photo, since it helps protect them from allegations of discrimination (based on race, age, gender, etc.) and you from being a victim of bias. In fact, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commision, the agency tasked with enforcing workplace discrimination laws, advises “employers should not ask for a photograph of an applicant” until “after an offer of employment is made and accepted.” Even then, a photograph is only used for “identification purposes.”


Wasted Space: Since there is limited space on your resume, you should use it to focus on your biggest accomplishments, most relevant skills, and best attributes. Professional resume writers know that recruiters will only look at a resume for about seven seconds. Do you want them to spend that time looking at your photo, or learning about the cutting-edge project you worked on or how you obliterated your sales plan the last five years?


Irrelevant: The best resume writers carefully craft resumes that show an employer why you’re the right person for the open position by presenting details of your work history, relevant skills, and education—a photo does nothing to convey why you’re a great fit for their company.


ATS Optimization: Nearly 40% of today’s employers are using an applicant tracking system (ATS) to screen candidates. Applicant tracking systems are unable to process images. The best case scenario if you applied to company using an ATS is that you wasted valuable space—better used for relevant keywords—on a photo. The worst case is your resume is automatically discarded.



No, but Try One of These Creative Solutions


LinkedIn Profile: Including a link to your LinkedIn profile on your resume is an easy way to allow employers to view your picture without having to include it on your resume. Just remember that your LinkedIn picture is a key part of your profile, so be sure to use a professional-looking photo.


Social Scrub: The best resume writing services, like SoCalResumes, will remind you that if a potential employer takes the time to look at your LinkedIn profile, they’ll likely take a look at your other social profiles as well. In fact, a recent study found that just 29% of hiring managers look at an applicant’s LinkedIn profile, while 38% search for an applicant’s other social media accounts. Make sure you’re using a professional-looking photo on all your social media accounts and remove any unflattering content.


Business Card: If you’re attending a lot of in-person networking events, it might be beneficial to have people make the connection between your face and your resume. Rather than putting your picture on your resume, have business cards printed with your photo on them and attach them to your resume when you hand it out. This way, a person can share your resume, business card, or both.



The Exception that Proves the Rule


Picture-Perfect Positions: You’ll almost always want to avoid including your picture on your resume; however, some jobs do want to see a photo. Most notable of those jobs are modeling and acting, where an applicant’s looks are relevant to the position they’re applying for.



If You Must Include a Photo on Your Resume


Professional Picture: If there’s no talking you out of including a photo of yourself on your resume, make sure to use a professional-looking photo. Ideally, the photo should be a professionally taken headshot in which you’re mirroring the style of the company. For example, if the job you’re applying for requires wearing a suit, use a photo of you in a suit. Conversely, if you’re applying to a company with a more relaxed dress code, wear more casual clothes.


Proper Place: If you’re including a photo on your resume, professional resume writers agree that it should be placed at the top of your resume.



Crafting the Right Type of Attention-Grabbing Resume with SoCalResumes


The old adage that a picture is worth a thousand words holds true when it comes to creating a resume, just remember some of those words might be inexperienced, unprofessional, or pass. Hiring a certified resume writer, like those of SoCalResumes, is an easy way to ensure you project the right image to potential employers by using the proper format, correct words, and highlighting your key experience, accomplishments, and attributes on your resume—helping you get invited in for interviews and increasing your odds of landing a new job.

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