When and When Not to Put a Photo on Your CV

Photo on CV
Created by Cake

Attaching a photo to your CV is getting more popular as we’re living in a world of images, memes, GIFs, and emojis. However, this topic has aroused much controversy among both recruiters and employers. Some agree that job applicants should put a profile photo on their CVs, whereas in some countries, this can be deemed unprofessional and against labor laws. 

There’s no correct answer to this, depending on factors such as the country and job requirements. Let’s dive into the circumstances when and when not you should put a photo on your CV. To help you make the right choice, this article is also going to show you how to take a professional CV photo.

Why You SHOULD NOT Put a Photo on Your CV

You reside in a country with strict anti-discrimination and labor laws.

Do not include an image for your CV if you’re living or applying for a position in the following countries:

  • United Kingdom
  • Ireland
  • United States
  • Canada

The reason is that these countries have strict anti-discrimination and labor laws. Prohibited Employment Policies/Practices by US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission says:

“The law makes it illegal for an employer to make any employment decision because of a person's race, color, religion, sex (including gender identity, sexual orientation, and pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information. That means an employer may not discriminate when it comes to such things as hiring, firing, promotions, and pay.”

Hence, employers from these countries will likely reject CVs with an image or photo to avoid being accused of labor law violations in the recruitment process. 

You want to prevent discrimination and maintain professionalism.

As mentioned earlier, recruiters and hiring managers don’t want to make hiring decisions based on your appearance when viewing your CV profile photo. By putting a photo on your CV, you may draw their attention to the following aspects which easily lead to discrimination and unprofessionalism:

  • Race/Ethnicity
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Weight
  • Disability
  • Other sensitive details

As many companies are continuously educating their employees on their role in preventing discrimination in the workplace, HR departments would select CVs with no photos in the first place. 

You have limited space on your CV.

Normally, a CV profile photo would take up quite a lot of space. Instead of adding photos to your CV, you can make the best use of your application by including more essential and relevant information, such as: 

  • Career objective 
  • Skills and qualifications
  • Accomplishments in previous roles 

If you want to provide more information about how you look, you can include your LinkedIn profile in your CV. This way, the recruiter and employer can still know about your appearance and you also don’t have to worry about the length of your CV.

Images can make your CV not ATS-friendly.

More and more companies have been using ATS to automatically narrow their applicant pools instead of manual screening methods. Thus, having an ATS-compatible CV is the first critical step if you want to go further. 

Putting a photo on your CV can potentially cause problems for ATS, resulting in your application being  automatically rejected. To have your CV pass through ATS, you need to insert relevant keywords from the job ad, including job titles, job requirements like skills and qualifications, educational backgrounds, relevant work experience, etc. 

Note that you should avoid not only images for CVs, but also typos and fancy formatting like graphs, tables, and symbols.

Photos in a CV might distract recruiters from other important information.

According to a recent study, recruiters and employers only spend an average of 7 seconds reviewing a CV/resume. That means they would expect to see key information about you that is related to the job opening. Photos in a CV, on the other hand, could be a distraction from other important details such as skills, education, employment history, etc. CVs are commonly longer than resumes and provide extensive information on a candidate’s academic background, work experiences, and other achievements.

Why You May Want to Put a Photo on Your CV

There’s no law prohibiting the use of photos on a CV in your country.

There are not any clear-cut practices for the following countries: 

  • Africa
  • Asia 
  • Europe (Spain, Belgium, France, Portugal, Germany, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, etc.)
  • South America

Therefore, you can worry less about including a CV photo if you live in the above listed countries, unless it’s clearly specified in the job description not to include a photo on your CV.

The job you are applying for requires a photo on the CV.

There are some jobs where your appearance matters and partly determines whether you get hired or not. These positions commonly call for you to be on stage, in front of a camera, or usually meet new people:

  • Model
  • Actor
  • Musician
  • TV broadcaster
  • MC
  • Reporter
  • Flight attendant
  • High-end sales

If you’re applying for these positions, it’s a must to have a CV with images, including a CV profile photo and other job-related photos. In other cases, follow the requirements stated in the job posting and see whether your CV needs a photo. 

You want to draw the recruiters’ attention with images.

In the visually-driven era of social media, eye-catching photos are key to enticing viewers to click on and know more about a product or an individual. It’s similar when it comes to hiring and recruitment. Adding a photo to your CV can potentially capture a hiring manager’s attention amongst the countless CVs that they are looking through.

An online CV with a photo will help build your brand.

If you’re seeking a creative job such as fashion, graphic design, architecture, arts, or films, you may have more freedom to express your personality in the CV. You also need to include your personal page or LinkedIn profile to present more projects and demonstrate your talent. For that reason, putting a photo on your CV can help develop your personal brand and online presence. Keep in mind to use the same profile photo with your LinkedIn or Gmail, so recruiters and employers can easily identify you through your pictures. 

Tips for a Decent CV Profile Photo

If you decide to include a profile photo in your CV, the next important thing to do is to make sure to include a professional photo in your CV. Follow the guide below to know what a decent CV profile photo is like.

💡 Use a professional profile photo for your CV.

Regardless of the country, make sure the profile photo for your CV is, or at least similar to, a professional headshot. That could leave a positive first impression on the recruiter and employer. 

Below are the characteristics of a professional profile photo:

  • Taken within 6 months.
  • Clearly show what you look like. 
  • Show only your head and shoulders. 
  • Feature you in your professional or business casual attire. 
  • Use a neutral background and good lighting. 

Examples of good CV photos:

These portraits meet the requirements because they are taken for the purpose of employment seeking and have good image quality. The candidates also dress up properly and look professional. 

Examples of bad CV photos:

CVs with profile pictures similar to the above examples are not the best choice. The image quality is low and employers can’t see you clearly. Also, don’t use a selfie as a CV profile picture. That will make you look unprofessional or unreliable.

💡 Place your photo in the CV header.

The best place for CV profile pictures is in the header, together with the CV/resume summary. This is where you briefly introduce yourself to recruiters and employers. 

Check out the examples below:

Created using Cake
Created using Cake
Created using Cake

💡 Use adequate size to save space on your CV.

Don’t place your photo too big – that would take up more space on your CV. You also don’t want to make it too small as employers can’t see your face clearly. It’s best to go for a passport-sized photo and check your CV carefully before it is published or submitted to the hiring manager. 

🔑 Key Takeaways

CV formats vary depending on the country, cultural preferences, and characteristics of the industry. You should consider all of these factors when asking yourself “Does my CV need a photo?”. 

If yes, ensure you select a headshot which is professionally taken, has good lighting, and clearly shows your face. You also dress up properly and face straight toward the camera in that CV profile photo. Keep in mind that inappropriate pictures can hurt your chances of landing an interview. That might be a CV profile photo where your face is blurred and you’re not wearing properly. 

If you're not supposed to put a photo on your CV, include your LinkedIn profile instead and stick to an ATS-friendly format.

With Cake, you can easily create a CV online, free download your CV's PDF formats, and utilize ATS-compliant templates to create a CV. Land your dream job, create your CV online (free download) now!

--- Originally written by May Luong ---

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