Should You Include a Photo on Your Resume?

Image by Maritsa Patrinos © The Balance 2019 

Should you add a picture to your resume? After all, your photo is on LinkedIn and your social networking site profiles. So it's only reasonable to wonder if including a headshot photo on your resume will enhance your chances of getting noticed and hired. 

Should You Include a Picture on Your Resume?

There isn’t one right answer to the question of including a photo on your resume, though it’s typically been considered a bad idea for most job seekers. Depending on your circumstances, it can be no, maybe, or even yes. Or you can consider a creative solution for showing a prospective employer your smiling face.

The traditional advice regarding placing photos on resumes has been an emphatic "No." The only exception is for actors and models, whose appearance matters for hiring. For most job seekers, the answer is still no.

An exception would be if you are job searching in a country other than the U.S. where photos are the norm on CVs.

Discrimination Issues

The reason to exclude photos is to protect applicants from being discriminated against, and employers from allegations of discrimination, based on race, age, weight, gender, attractiveness, or personal style.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) advises employers not to ask for a job applicant's photograph. If a photo is necessary for identification purposes, it should be requested after a job offer is accepted.

Recruiting Concerns

Many employers are eager to avoid unconscious bias in their recruitment, using strategies, for example, like removing college and candidate names from resumes before reviewing them.

Including a photo can make the quest to have a bias-free recruitment process more challenging. This perspective is still embraced by the majority of experts and human resources professionals.

Because of that, it's worth carefully considering whether it's worth it—or will be beneficial for your candidacy—to include a photo. Or could it knock you out of contention for the job?

Some hiring managers who review resumes will likely view including a photo as somewhat unprofessional. It could even be a mark against your candidacy. 

That said, we live in a multimedia age. Most likely, a quick online search of your name will reveal photos and social media profile pages with your face. On LinkedIn, for example, a professional photo is expected to be part of your profile.

Even regular non-celebrities often try to establish a professional brand, using a photo as part of that strategy. That means there's a bit more nuance to the question now.

Why Not to Add a Photo

Even though you can add a photo in some circumstances, it doesn't mean that you should. Consider what value a picture will add, if any, before you start reworking your resume. There are also ways you can get employers to view your picture without having to add your photo to your resume.

Review these options for including—or not—a photo on your resume. There are some exceptions to the "no picture" guidance that might work for you.

Option 1: Include the URL of Your LinkedIn Profile

LinkedIn profiles regularly incorporate a photo and are widely utilized by candidates in their job search and by recruiters sourcing talent. If you believe your appearance would be an asset for your target job, incorporating a link to your LinkedIn profile on your resume is a safe and acceptable way to showcase your appearance.

Though a certain appearance is essential for actors and models, an attractive, trustworthy, or approachable appearance can also be an asset in many other fields. Sales representatives, receptionists, bartenders, financial planners, public relations representatives, recruiters, and many other service providers can benefit from projecting a certain image.

Option 2: Add a Photo to Your Networking Resume

Another possible exception to the accepted wisdom regarding the inclusion of photos is when you are utilizing your resume mostly for networking purposes. If you are distributing resumes at conferences or other events where you will be interacting with many individuals, a photo can help new contacts to remember you. 

In addition, if you are being referred by your contacts to other individuals who don't know you, you might include a picture on your resume if you believe your appearance would be an asset. You can mention to networking contacts that you would be glad to furnish a version of your resume without a picture if they would like to forward your document to other individuals for formal job screening.

Option 3: Attach a Business Card with Your Photo to Your Resume

One more option for in-person networking is to include a business card with a photo that you’ve made just for your job search. If you share your resume and a card with your contact information, both can be passed on if you’re being referred for a job or to another networking connection.

Where to Put the Photo on Your Resume

If you do opt to include a photo on your resume, the recommended place is at the top of the page.

The photo should be a professional headshot, similar to or the same as the one you used for your LinkedIn profile. Here are some tips for taking and choosing a professional photo.

Article Sources

  1. Novoresume. "Should You Include a Picture on Your Resume or CV?" Accessed June 15, 2020.

  2. EEOC. "Prohibited Employment Policies/Practices." Accessed June 15, 2020.

  3. Jobscan. "Here’s Why You Should Not Include a Picture on Your Resume in 2020." Accessed June 15, 2020.