Should I Include a Photo on My Resume? (With Tips)
By Indeed Editorial Team
Updated January 15, 2023
Published September 7, 2021
The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.
When looking for a job, it's important to focus on making the best impression on the potential employers you meet. Your resume is typically the first impression an employer has of you as a professional candidate, so including a photo may be something you consider. Understanding the implications of including a photo on your resume can help you decide whether your appearance is relevant to your profession. In this article, we discuss when to include a photo on a resume and when to avoid it, explain how to present yourself professionally if you choose to include it and provide tips for taking the perfect photo for your resume.
Related: How To Write a Resume
When to include a photo on your resume
Whether you benefit from including a photo on your resume largely depends on the role. When an employer is looking for someone to fill specific job positions, like salespeople, PR representatives, servers, or other larger-scale public-facing roles, they want to make sure that the people they hire look approachable and trustworthy. When the job you're applying for is to visually represent the company, employers are likely to judge you based on what potential customers and clients think when they see you.
Your resume's purpose is to provide an overview of you as a professional, including qualities like your skills, qualifications and experience. This is to help determine whether you're suitable for the job. In most cases, what you look like has no bearing on your ability to perform the job. There are some rare instances in which including a professional headshot may be appropriate on your resume. Aside from certain business roles, these instances are generally limited to actors or models where their look is one of the most important elements of the job.
When to avoid including a photo on your resume
Here are a few reasons it may be inappropriate to include a photo with your resume:
When you want to make an in-person first impression
You only get one first impression. It's much more likely that you can make a more favourable and layered first impression in-person than your picture would be able to accomplish. Seeing a candidate's face can subconsciously remove the employer's objectivity when selecting potential candidates to interview, eliminating any potential opportunity you may have had to make a great first impression in person. Leaving out the photo ensures that the company hires you exclusively for your merits, experiences and competencies.
When you want to avoid biases
Biases include features like the person's gender, age, race, hair, phenotype and any other details employers may be able to disseminate just from the photograph you shared. Including a photo can unintentionally subject you to unfair biases and a potential lawsuit if it's proven that they declined you based on your appearance. You can avoid this situation altogether by simply leaving a photograph off your resume. Omitting the photo means you can be certain they've selected your resume and application for the right reasons.
When you have limited space
Normally, your resume is a fairly concise document and no longer than one page. It can take a good amount of work to fit all your pertinent information on one page and make it look clean, legible and uncluttered. Including a photo with your resume can take much of your workable space away. It's much more effective to use that space to expand on your qualifications and ability to deliver on the tasks that the employer is likely to expect from you. Consider what additional details can help elevate the status of your resume.
When they can find you on social media
If an employer is interested in your qualifications and is considering inviting you to interview with them, they may have already searched for more information about you on social media. Sometimes a hiring manager or recruiter may take this step in order to determine if there are any issues regarding your candidacy. In the process, they're going to see your photos, which makes it unnecessary to include a photo and frees more valuable resume space.
When you want to ensure it meets company policy standards
It's not uncommon for a recruiter to discard the photo from your resume before forwarding it to their employer or hiring manager. They may do this for various reasons, including some of the ones listed above, or it may be part of their company policy. This ensures that they're performing their duties appropriately and screening candidates only for their capabilities. Instead of using that space to include a photo that a recruiter may remove anyway, use it as an opportunity to include more information about your skills and qualifications on your resume.
When you want it to be ATS-compliant
It's common for companies to put resumes through an automatic scanner to extract specific information and details. This software is typically called an application tracking system (ATS). Sometimes, including a photograph can cause an error with the software that makes it discard your resume by default before the employer even gets to see it. To avoid this possibility, it's safer not to include a photograph and to include more information like keywords that agree with the ATS and make your application more effective.
When an employer specifically requests that you don't include one
If an employer requests in the job description for you not to include a photo in your resume, then it's best to omit it. It shows your attention to detail and genuine interest in the role to adhere to their request and makes it more likely for them to consider your resume. Not including the photo increases your chances of getting an interview and places you at an advantage over any candidates who included an image in their resumes.
How to present yourself professionally in a resume photo in 4 steps
If you include a picture, here are four steps to help you prepare for the photo on your resume:
1. Wear a simple top
Business casual is a perfectly acceptable style of dress code to wear for a professional photo. With that in mind, it's ideal to capture a headshot, which may include the upper half of your frame. Neutral colours that are free from logos, patterns, stripes and slogans are ideal. A simple dress shirt or blouse is a professional option for any situation.
2. Do your hair
The way you do your hair is likely to differ depending on its length and texture. Ensure you're well-groomed and your hair is in a simple style that isn't too distracting. If you include a photo on your resume, your face and personality should be the feature of the image. Consider going to a hair salon or barbershop to have a professional do your hair so you can feel confident that you look your best.
3. Wear natural makeup
Be mindful of how your photo may look to potential employers. Do your makeup as you would for a regular work day, and keep it neutral, so it doesn't overpower your natural appearance. Sometimes the quality of a photo can change during the transfer stage, so try to wear a light application of natural makeup to enhance your features. This can also help the image withstand any changes that come with printing, scanning and document transfers.
If you've concluded that a photo is ideal for your resume, make sure to smile. This shows an innate friendliness and may encourage the resume reviewer to engage further with your profile. Be sure that your smile appears natural and gentle, which you can enhance by smiling with your eyes as well.
Tips for getting the perfect photo for your resume
Consider these tips to help you capture the best photo for your resume:
Get the proper angle
The angle that you choose for your photo contributes to the overall style and composition of your profile. You ideally want a profile photo from the front. Centre the camera with your face and then move back and forth to find the distance that you want. The further away the camera, the more of your top appears in the photo.
Get the right lighting
Lighting is a key component to getting an excellent picture. If you are taking a photo outside, make use of the natural light to find a sunny area that illuminates your complexion and facial features. Be mindful that your ability to find suitable natural light changes throughout the day. You may have to rely on artificial light if natural light is not an option.
Choose a neutral background
To keep the photo from having too many distracting elements, choose a neutral background. A solid white background is usually ideal for this type of photograph and helps you stand out. A white or cream-coloured wall may suffice.
Hire a professional photographer
If you prefer, consider hiring a professional photographer. These skilled professionals understand the fundamental and advanced techniques of photography and can get you the picture that you desire. If it fits within your budget, it's a perfectly viable alternative and is likely to get the best results. You can also ask a friend or family member to help you with your photoshoot to ensure you have a second opinion.
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