Choosing whether to include a photo or not on your resume or CV is not always easy

| Some recruiters may not consider you if your application includes a photo, whereas others consider it essential, even if in some places they may not be permitted to ask.

Even though recruiters may be divided, there is an increasing trend towards including a photo on applications.

But is that always your best bet?

Read on to maximise your chance of making the best decision for a winning application.

When not to include a photo on your CV

More traditional recruiters may think it’s unprofessional to include a photo or that it’s simply unnecessary.

Well, that could be true. If you are applying for entry-level employment or the organization you are applying to is a large corporation, then consider leaving your photo out. You may also wish to avoid putting your photo in if you think there is a risk of discrimination.

That being said, here’s a great solution if you want to include your photo but think it may harm your application: Consider putting in a link to your LinkedIn profile. This way, you are showing your professional values and at the same time providing a valuable source of more information.

In most cases, your looks shouldn’t affect your ability to do your work, unless you are applying for a modelling position. So what does a photo matter anyway? Well let’s find out.

Why you should include a photo on your CV

Standing out among the crowd is becoming more and more important as the 4th industrial revolution moves in. Research shows recent graduates are lacking the ‘soft skills’ essential for the new pace of change in the current and future business landscape.

What better way therefore, to show your personal, human side than with a well-taken, confident, warm photography of yourself. They say a picture tells a thousand words and if only a few of those are positive, you are going to have an advantage over another faceless application.

When you should include a photo in your CV

If you are applying for scholarships, fellowships, conferences, and similar opportunities, I would recommend including a photo by default as usually they are more welcome to receiving photos with applications.

Also, consider putting your photo in when applying to companies in more creative or customer focused industries.

As we have moved into a more open and connected society, it’s more accepted to bend the rules a little. Industries with a greater sense of expression are more likely to have no issue with an injection of color in your application.

To help find clues as to whether your photo will help or hinder you, look for the company or organization’s branding. Do they value creative expression and openness or do they express a more serious tone in their marketing?

Quick Tips

Dont’ forget, if you are shortlisted, some recruiters will check your online presence so it’s good to ensure there is a close match between how your present yourself to your friends and to potential recruiters.

Ideally, you will want to attach your photo separately e.g. with a paper clip. This means if the person sorting applications has instruction to remove photos, they can do so and not discount your entire application.

What does your photo say about you?

A well taken professional photo can give your application a real boost. Forgetting your actual appearance for a minute, your photo can convey lots of other beneficial info. For example, your photo can convey much more than your looks. It can show your values (neat, organised, clean) or that you simply look alert and welcoming.

And, if you know someone personally who is in the organisation already you can always reach out to them to ask for some extra info on the application process, or what the policy is. Just don’t go emailing the CEO..

To sum it all up

Whether you include your photo or not really depends on several factors. Not only the position and industry you are applying for but also the kind of organisation you are applying to.

That being said, to make it as easy as possible, here’s my best advice.

  • DONT include your photo if your appearance really isn’t relevant to the position
  • DONT use selfies for your photo! (Do I really need to include this one?)
  • DO consider whether the organisation values personal connection.
  • DO make sure your photo looks friendly, professional and has ‘passport framing’
  • DO ensure your photo can be removed (use a paperclip or a dab of weak glue)
  • DO your research! Check the details carefully as to what is expected in the application.
  • DO check your online presence and social media matches your CV / application.


For more Expert Secrets on making your application stand out, check our recent article: 5 ways to instantly boost your CV