Should you include a photo on your resume?

Including a photograph of yourself on your resume greatly increases the chances that you'll be subject to discrimination. By including a photograph of yourself, you're increasing your exposure to the conscious and unconscious biases of the hiring man…

2 minute read.
Free Resume Staff

When searching for a resume template, you'll need to decide if you want to pick one with space to include a photograph. This can be a tough decision. From a purely visual standpoint, resumes that include a photograph are often quite eye catching.

Yet in spite of their visual appeal, in most circumstances its advisable to avoid including a headshot on your resume. Why? Read on...

Bias

Perhaps one day we'll live in a world where applicants are judged objectively, and solely on their ability to do the job, but we're not there yet. The reality is that, despite being against the law in most modern societies, discrimination and bias is rampant in the workplace.

Individuals are frequently discriminated against in the workplace based on a huge variety of attributes - the most common of which are probable race, gender, sexual identity and age.

Including a photograph of yourself on your resume greatly increases the chances that you'll be subject to discrimination. By including a photograph of yourself, you're increasing your exposure to the conscious and unconscious biases of the hiring manager.

While it's possible this could work in your favour (positive discrimination is a thing, after all) - theres an equal or higher chance that it could land your resume in the trash before it's even been read. Not good.

Exceptions

Of course, the general recommendation not to include a photo is just a recommendation! There are certainly situations in which it can be appropriate.

If it's specifically requested that you include a photograph on your application, then of course your should do so, but you'll likely find that this is not common practice in most english speaking countries such as the US, Canada and Australia.

However, there are certain countries in which this is more common, and where recruiters may recommend that you should always include a photograph. This includes some European countries, along with Japan and China.

If you're in doubt, you should always be sure to research the specifics of the specific job market that you're applying in.

Quality counts

If you've decided that it's in your best interests to include a photograph on your resume, then there are a few guidelines that your should ensure you follow. These points are all relatively obvious, but they are important.

Make sure you use a professional quality photograph. This doesn't necessarily mean you need to pay for professionally taken headshots (although this can be a good option). However you should ensure the photograph you use is in focus, well lit, and of adequate resolution.

You should ensure that your head and shoulders are the only things that appear in the photo. It should be a photograph of you, and you alone (no cropping friends out of the shot) and you'll want to make sure you're against a relatively neutral background.

It's also worth pointing out that you should apply these same standards to your profile photo on LinkedIn. These days it's highly likely that your potential employer will take a look at your LinkedIn profile - so you need to make a good impression.

Summary

In summary, to avoid the possibilities of conscious and unconscious discrimination and bias, you should generally avoid including a photo on your resume. However it's worth doing your research to be sure of the expectations in your local job market.

Either way, keep it professional, and you won't go too far wrong.


Photo by Caroline Veronez on Unsplash