Resume Tips No.12 – Personal Photos

We have covered off many resume tips ranging from content, to layout, to referees and most recently, image representation. However one aspect that regularly gets overlooked is the use of  photos.  Should you or shouldn’t you insert a personal photo in your resume? 


Similar to our post on hobbies, inserting a personal photo into your resume is frowned upon by some recruiters who will even go as far as to say that inserting an inappropriate photo into your resume can break your chances for an interview.  So the question many job seekers ask me is, “Should I include a photo?”

Now if you had asked me  that question several years ago, I would have responded with a flat, “Any photo is an inappropriate photo and no!” However, with the proliferation of social media, career profiles, profiles, etc, it makes it very easy for an employer to find your details, your work and your image! Take LinkedIn for example? This is a social career site used by many employers for direct recruitment activities? Go to any career site discussing tips for a great LinkedIn page and we bet you, having a professional career photo will be on the top of the ‘must have’ factors for a great LinkedIn profile.  So why does the good old resume get a bad wrap when you insert a photo? Double standards much?

From personal experience and feedback from other HR professionals, there is very little value of adding a photo to your resume…in most cases.  In fact, inserting a personal photo can create more issues than expected. Due to the ramifications of discrimination and EEO legislation, many employers and recruiters view photos as highly inappropriate for any candidate and leaves them open to a whole ‘can of worms’.  Generally speaking, you should only add content in your resume that will enhance your chances of securing an interview. Your physical appearance can not add value or help determine your capabilities performing the necessary requirements of the role.

In saying that however, I have received stand out resumes, some of which included a photo! Shock horror, I hear all the recruiters and HR pros reeling with anxiety.  You see, many HR professionals state that it is unprofessional to submit a photo because it signals a lack of professionalism and that it even opens up potential discrimination issues as pointed out above. However, if HR/recruiters are assessing based on skills and merits, what is there to be worried about right? And again, with social media, a  recruiter can find out a lot about you, including what you look like from a few clicks of a keyboard.  So what difference does it make if that photo is on a resume or social media page someone found? Well I suppose when it’s on a resume submitted directly to a recruiter or the HR team by the applicant, it’s hard to ignore or claim ignorance.

So, should you insert a personal photo?  

In some instances, certain professionals will advise that it may be appropriate to insert a photo for certain roles, however still err on the side of caution.  For example, photos ‘may’ be appropriate for positions such as a  ‘Flight Attendant’, ‘Promotional’ roles and other positions that may require high level presentation or to represent a particular image.  With that aside, you still need to select appropriate and professional photos that won’t damage your reputation.  Even though you might be applying for an event and promo role, depicting a photo of you guzzling beer or being the ‘life’ of a party…is still not a suitable option.

Other than that, if you are absolutely adamant on inserting a photo, again, ensure it is tasteful and a high, quality professional image.  I would hope that we haven’t become so bogged down in rules and best practice guidelines, that we would potentially miss out on a great candidate because they apparently broke a cardinal resume rule? One thing we will advise though, photos are still a highly controversial and debated topic! If you insert a photo, be prepared that you may get a mixed review and outcome.

For more resume tips, view our other blog posts or contact WER to assist you.

Posted in Resume Tips.

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