Should I Put a Photo on My Resume?

Are you unsure about whether or not to include a photo on your resume? Well, you’re not alone. In fact, many job-seekers share this same dilemma. With the wide variety of resume-writing guides and websites available, it’s common to find contradicting information about this topic. For some, putting a picture on their job application is unheard of, while for others, a resume seems remiss without one. In this article, we break down the main guidelines regarding resume photos, so that you can make the best choice for your specific situation. 

Resume Photo Standards Are Different in Each Country 

While you may be looking for a single answer to the question of whether to add a headshot to your resume, the truth is that it can vary from country to country. In some parts of the world, including photos in resumes is standard practice, while it can be problematic to do so in others. 

Below is a list of the countries in which adding a photo to your resume could severely hurt your chances of success:

  • United States
  • United Kingdom 
  • Ireland

The reason why it’s better not to include a professional resume photo in these cases is relatively straightforward. All these countries have stern anti-discrimination and labor laws. As a result, HR professionals must be able to demonstrate that their hiring decisions are not based on profiling factors such as race, gender, appearance, or age. To ensure that this doesn’t happen accidentally, recruiters prefer that candidates do not include photos on their resumes, and they may directly throw out any resume that does. This is also why most online resume builders don’t recommend adding photos to their professional templates. 

On the other hand, within the following countries it’s usually beneficial to include a photo on your resume: 

  • African countries
  • Asian countries
  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • France
  • Germany
  • Middle Eastern countries 
  • Scandinavian countries
  • South American countries
  • Spain

In these locations, even if your prospective employer hasn’t specifically asked for a photo, it’s usually recommended that you do include one. Hiring teams in these countries usually prefer that candidates include a photo, particularly because it can make it easier to remember each individual applicant. However, please be aware that this preference can differ depending on the organization or the job position you’re applying for, and you should ensure that they haven’t explicitly asked you not to include one. 

In the chance that you’re applying for a position in a country that is not included in the above lists, we suggest staying on the side of caution and not including a photo. This is because if a company wanted to see your appearance, they would most likely directly ask you to include a photo on the application. Furthermore, they may be able to see what you look like through your LinkedIn or other social media platforms. This is one of the many reasons why you should verify that there are no photos of you online that could give a negative impression to recruiters. 

Resume Photo Tips

If you find yourself in a country in which it might make sense to include a photo, there are still some guidelines that you should follow. Not every type of photo is appropriate for a resume, and it’s important that it meets certain criteria to be included. Follow the advice below to ensure your photo is adequate for typical hiring requirements:

  • Have a friendly expression and smile 
  • Dress in a professional manner
  • Show only your head and shoulders
  • Don’t use a selfie or low-quality image
  • Have a blank and unobtrusive background, preferably white or gray
  • Hire a paid photographer or use a professional camera if possible 
  • Make eye contact with the camera
  • Don’t go overboard with excessive makeup or hairstyling
  • Ensure that the lighting is not too bright nor too dark
  • Keep your photo to passport-size so that it doesn’t take up too much space

We also recommend that you use the same profile picture on LinkedIn as the one on your resume. This will make you more recognizable to recruiters and show them that you’re putting effort into creating and maintaining a professional personal brand. 

Another lesser-known option for people that want to include some sort of personal identifier on their resume, is to add a personal logo instead. Creating a simple logo with your own initials can be easy if you have access to some design software. Otherwise, paying a freelancer on Upwork or Fiverr for a cheap logo can be fast and relatively simple.

Wrapping up

Deciding whether or not to include a photo on your resume should depend significantly on the country in which the company is located. Make sure to check your area’s specific preferences before adding a photo to maximize your chances of landing your dream job. For more information on creating a successful resume, check out our article on tips for drafting an exceptional resume.

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