Why your resume should NEVER include a photo

Why Your Resume Should NEVER Include a Photo

I don’t care what Gen George of OneShift says in this article. Putting your photo on your resume is a bad idea.

She says you SHOULD put your photo on your resume because:

1. They do it a lot in Europe.

So what? In case she missed it, Australia is not part of the EU.  Having Jessica Mauboy sing at Eurovision does not make us European or obliged to adopt all things European.

2. Employers are going to Google you anyway, so putting your picture on your resume allows you to control their perception of you.

Are you kidding?  You might have the most professional photo in the world on your resume, but if you have a public Facebook account with loads of photos of you going overboard on a big night out, you are in trouble.  A photo on your resume does not give you ANY control over the employer’s perception of you.

3. Resumes with photos get more attention from prospective employers.

Why your resume should NEVER include a photoEvery professional recruitment business I know of does NOT include photos on the resumes they send to their clients.  We are very aware of how a photo can lead to discrimination, and we won’t be a party to it.  And if a resume with a photo does make it to the employer directly, the ‘attention’ it receives may not be what you had hoped.

4. If someone is going to discriminate, they are going to do it anyway.

So we should give them the tools to discriminate?  Ridiculous!  You want the employer to be engaged and excited by your skills, your experience and your ability to do the job.  You want them to be excited about you before they see you so they are less likely to make any judgements based on your appearance.

The fact is humans are visual, and we instinctively make judgements about people based on what they look like.  Our own prejudices, preferences and penchants, many of them made subconsciously,  are instantly engaged when we look at a person.  We judge people.  It’s a human thing to do. But in the job/employment market, where people are looking for ways to exclude you from their shortlist, do you really want to give them the chance to exclude you because they don’t like the look of you?

5. People are doing more and more creative things to stand out.

What, so the savvy, creative candidate who has good Photoshop skills is a ‘better’ candidate than someone else?  Seriously?  In that case, my twelve-year-old daughter, who uses fifty different filters before loading a photo onto Instagram and watermarks her own selfies, is clearly perfect for EVERY job.

I have been in the industry for a very long time, and I am 100% confident when I say to you: do NOT put your photo on your resume.  Let a potential employer judge you on your skills and experience, not your haircut.

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Lisa Johnson

Lisa Johnson

Shared Services Manager at people2people
Lisa has been working in the recruitment industry since 1996, working in administration and payroll processing, temporary and permanent recruitment for accounting and finance professionals. In February 2007, Lisa joined onsiite, the RPO subsidiary of people2people, having worked with and known the Directors since 2000. Lisa now manages the shared services and administration division for people2people and onsiite.

38 comments

  1. Maggie says:

    “In that case, my twelve-year-old daughter, who uses fifty different filters before loading a photo onto Instagram and watermarks her own selfies, is clearly perfect for EVERY job.”
    HAHAHA. That made my day!

    • James Martinez says:

      Umm… photoshop skills in todays world of digital media is highly valued I would think. Not sure why this article bashes resumes having a photo. If it makes it stand out when not that many people are doing it, then that’s a good thing. If your name is Martinez like mine, and that gives you the perception of a Latino, maybe you might have a skewed idea of what I look like. . But my photo will tell you otherwise and might intrigue the recruiter or hiring manager. No?

  2. […] off your CV? Lisa Johnson from the people2people team recently made some excellent points in her blog piece regarding the use of photos.  Use a regular font with regular spacing. Avoid anything that many […]

  3. Adam says:

    And what if you’re confident that including your photo would lead to an unconscious bias in your favour?

    • Lisa Johnson Lisa Johnson says:

      Ah Adam, a good point.

      BUT how can you be completely confident? You have no control over who is looking at the photo and what their personal bias’ may be. People have their own personal prejudices and they can make assumptions about you based on your looks.

      It’s better to be assessed on your skills and achievements rather than your sensational hair and penetrating blue eyes.

    • Ana says:

      Adam, I completely agree. I think that excluding the photo is for the preservation of the less attractive people. People who are good-looking and include their photo are very likely going to be called in for an interview.

      • Lisa Johnson Lisa Johnson says:

        Ana you have literally made me laugh out loud. I have absolutely no doubt that if you are drop dead gorgeous that you are going to get called in for an interview…most of the time. I would not assume anything myself, but, unfortunately other people may look at you and make negative assumptions based on your looks – perhaps you remind them of that woman who their husband cheated on them with, or they assume you’re stupid (because you can’t possibly be beautiful AND smart, right?). Maybe they assume that because you have this beautiful photo on your resume you are narcissistic and shallow. Maybe they had a horrible high school experience because a beautiful girl, just like you, made their life hell and they would rather stab out their own eyes than work with someone who reminds them of the worst time of their lives.

        In employment, wouldn’t you rather get where you need to go based on your skills and experience rather than having someone judge you because of what you look like?

        I am perfectly happy to say that I am not beautiful. I never have been, and to be honest, have no desire to be so. Do I want people to judge me based on a photo? Nope. I am more than my looks. My looks are, in fact, immaterial to the success of my career. Which (unless you are in a career where your physical attributes are key to your success) is just how it should be.

        Lisa

  4. Oliver says:

    Ahh yes a twentieth century attitude towards a twenty first century situation. What was good for the baby boomers and gen x on their type writers must be good for gen y and beyond. In case you missed it gen y “kids” are now also doing the hiring …remember they like pictures and all sorts of distracting objects. …oh look shiny!

    BTW. It’s interesting that you have a picture of yourself next to your bio…you just saved me 3 mins having to look you up on linkedIn

    • Lisa Johnson Lisa Johnson says:

      Oliver,

      Gen Y are undoubtedly hiring, but that doesn’t mean that they are not using the same bias and discrimination as I outlined in by blog. This isn’t about any particular generation discriminating against another – my point is about removing bias based on your looks.

      Regards

  5. Garry Robinson says:

    Firstly, I think its up to each recruitment agent or propective employer to view this matter in an objective manner, everybody has there own opinion on the matter.
    Previously I did not have a photo on my resume and now I do have, this I beleive makes NO difference. Still have not got anywhere.
    Unless you have the right words recruiters are looking for, then you may have a chance to put your foot forward. I would hope one day a recruiter would give me some constructive feedback what they perceive what they think you may be suitable for? Not just say in there standard letter format, “You are unsuccessful as other applicant meet” (Recruiters perceived idea what you can or cant do without talking to you) and they know what a client is looking for?

    Cheers
    garry

  6. Jenny says:

    Every time I have included a photo I get a call back for an interview. The last time I got a email within thirty minutes, a phone interview the next day and finally an in person interview in which I got the job. Not only did I include a photo I included one that reflects my personality. It was not professional. It works for me. As for Facebook I use a different name on Facebook and a different email to one I would use for employers so good luck to them finding me. I say do what you want.

    • Lisa Johnson Lisa Johnson says:

      Jenny

      It’s a smart decision to use a different name and email address for your facebook account. And clearly, whatever industry you are in, the photo is working for you – but for many people it wont. I still believe it’s a risk including your photo and that you are giving people an opportunity to discriminate against you based on your ‘looks’.

      Regards
      Lisa

  7. ruben says:

    I agree that recruiters should be looking at your skills instead of your race or looks. However, as job applicant, it is difficult to know the bias of a recruiter. anyone could exaggerate their skills and write an incredible resume. Yet, sometimes a pictures could say a thousands words.

  8. Neil says:

    Okay, I am really shocked with this article and with the responses. I have never sent my resume into a company via email or just dropping it off with reception. Anyone who feels that this is a good idea needs a reality check. As a professional engineer I learned real quick that it takes strategic planning to land an exceptional job. I pound the pavement, so to speak, and find the right person in a company to personally hand off my resume to. I also include my photo on there for one main reason, a lot of people are very visual, therefore, when I introduce myself and give them my elevator pitch for a few minutes and then hand them my resume (not in an envelop) they make a connection with me and my picture.

    My kids are now doing the same thing and they are reaping the rewards of landing great jobs.

    One last comment. When ever I have received a resume where the person just left it at reception instead of asking to hand it in directly to the hiring manager (me in those cases), I didn’t even bother looking at it. Is that fair, not sure, but I personally only like to hire driven and dedicated people that go that extra mile.

    • Lisa Johnson Lisa Johnson says:

      Neil,

      I like that your approach is working for you and to be honest, I think it makes you stand out in the crowd (so to speak). And a photo helps when you have met the person because, like you say, people ARE visual and it helps to remind them of you and what you had to say. I just don’t think it’s a good idea when you haven’t met the person because it just gives them an opportunity to say ‘I don’t like the way he looks’ before even considering your skills.

      When I think of it, putting your photo on your resume is like putting your photo on Tinder – it doesn’t matter what you are like as a person, people are going to swipe left or right based on what you look like. Which makes ME eternally grateful that I am not on Tinder :)

      I want to touch base on your strategic job hunting comments. Firstly, I think it’s great when I get to communicate with someone who isn’t just applying for every job on the internet. It does make a real difference when someone has put real thought and effort into their application. And it amazes me that people apply for jobs blindly and then complain that they never get any interviews.

      But I don’t think your approach of personally visiting an office to hand in a resume will work for everyone. Hiring managers typically don’t want any contact with applicants until they have reviewed resumes and made a decision to meet them. One of the reasons recruiters are given the opportunity to help source talent, is so the hiring manager can keep their distance and not be ‘bothered’ by applicants until they get a suitably qualified short list presented to them.

      I think it would be just plain difficult to find out who the hiring manager is AND get in front of them by just turning up at reception and asking for them. You certainly run the risk of making a negative impression by ‘bothering’ them. This, of course, depends on the temperament of the hiring manager. Some, like you, will respect the effort and thought you have given to approaching him/her. Others may just find it annoying if they feel that they are being dragged away from something they are working on and this may affect their perception of you.

      Overall though, I do agree with you. People need to make more of an effort when applying for a job.

      Kind Regards

    • Anita Griggs says:

      I am 67 years old and have been unemployed for a year. I’ve been an executive administrative assistant for over 20 years. I am very well qualified and have excellent letters of recommendation, BUT I AM GETTING NO WHERE. My photo is good and I’m wondering if I should start using it? The discussion seems to go back and forth about it. Neil, if you would be so kind, please look me up on LinkedIn and view my photo and tell me if I should use it or not. The photo is one year old and it is not touched up. I’m thinking I should try using it since I’m not having success as things are now. My resume is very well tuned so I don’t think that is the problem. I had two SCORE mentors work with me on it (retired business executives who mentor others). What do you all think? I have to work and I’m wondering if people are counting on their fingers and sensing my age. Age really is just a number. The photo might be a good thing given my situation, but I am not objective. Need your eyes!

      • Lisa Johnson Lisa Johnson says:

        Anita,

        I wish I could help here, but I have no understanding of the US employment market, so am limited in my expertise. I did look at your resume though, and it is very good. I don’t think it in any way indicates your age but it DOES clearly show that you have considerable work experience. Maybe there is a perception that you will be too expensive? I would like to hope that you are not being penalised for working within the same organisation for over 20 years, especially as you can clearly demonstrate career development and an ability to adjust to change.

        Your photo is excellent. But I don’t know that it will ‘add’ anything to your resume. Your depth of experience clearly indicates that you are not 21 years old. The employer is going to assume that you have some maturity behind you, but there is no indication that you are 67. Because they don’t know you are 67, they are not going to look at the photo and go ‘Wow she looks sensational for her age!’ They will look at the photo and see exactly what they expect to; a middle aged woman.

        I think if there was any gross assumptions being made by a potential employer, it might be that they question your skills with technology. You have 20+ years experience, but you do not spend a great deal of time in your resume detailing your experience with new or emerging technology. If you have experience with administering social media accounts, webinar / online meeting coordination, involvement in the development or implementation of cloud based processes / technology – perhaps that would be good to detail in the resume.

        Regardless, I hope you find a great role soon!

        Lisa

        • Anita Griggs says:

          What a great response! Thanks, Lisa. I appreciate your input – totally unbiased. Thank you for your nice compliment on my resume. And thank you for giving your opinion on the photo.

          Yes, I could be perceived as being “too expensive” and I have resolved myself to accepting a lower salary. It’s more important to eat! (smile).

          Regarding technology . . . that was an insightful observation. I worked for a fairly large company and we had full-time people who did all the email marketing, web development, cloud back up, and the like. I did, however, help with online conference calls and webinars. I can see how smaller organizations would want an executive assistant to help update the web and make entries into Facebook, etc. Unfortunately, I just never had to do it. I have actually changed the battery in my mac at home before; and I’ve changed out my hard drive twice . . . but only with my techy-son walking me through it. Does that count? (smile)

          There have been two instances this past year when I’ve applied for jobs online and they have forced me to answer the question, “What year did you graduate from high school?” If you don’t select a year, you cannot proceed with the application. I knew then and there that they would not be calling, but I decided that I would not lie and just take it in the shorts, so to speak. It seems like that should be illegal. I think it was a government military-base job. For reasons like that, I prefer to send in a physical application whenever possible. That way a computer software program can’t drop me because I don’t have enough key words to put me in a top percentage. (This is all quite the game, isn’t it!)

          Well, I’m in a quandary. You think the photo would not add that much to my resume, yet I’m not getting interviews.

          Thanks again for your helpful response!

          • Lisa Johnson Lisa Johnson says:

            Hi Anita,

            I am appalled that someone is asking you to nominate when you finished high school because this is clearly as blatant as saying ‘tell me how old you are.’ Having said that, if they were government or government related roles then I can only assume that there might be one rule for the government and one for everyone else. It often can seem that way.

            Have you tried temping? I don’t have ANY idea what the temp market is like over there, but I often recommend it as an option to people here – especially if someone has been out of work for a wee while or are struggling to get a break. One reason this might work for you is this: say that employers are ‘assuming’ you are a bit stuck in your ways because you worked for one organisation for such a long time. If you do a couple of temp jobs you will be able to prove your ability to adjust to different environments / work cultures. Often this is a great way of expanding technical skills too.

            I recommend adding some detail into your resume about coordinating/ managing online meetings etc. It will show that you are au fait with technology.

            Kind Regards
            Lisa

  9. Jeremy says:

    Don’t agree with you sorry – using a website like Seek to find a job, a photo can be the point of difference/interest/the colour in a see of black n white resumes. Making a blanket statement, that you’re 100% confident that you should never put a photo in tells me that you’re out of touch. And like it or not, some employers go for the look of an employee because they know they can train the rest of the job requirements.

  10. Lisa Johnson Lisa Johnson says:

    Jeremy, so you are saying that an employer may choose to employ someone based on what they look like rather than their skills and experience?

    I think you have rather proved my point.

  11. William says:

    Hi Lisa Johnson, I am considering applying for a position as an analyst. Unfortunately, I think employers may discriminate based on my last name. It has a connotation with Islam. I am half Lebenase and half Taiwanese and also a Christian. I’m afraid that they wouldn’t read passed the last name. I’m hoping a photo would change their perception of me. Is it still not a good idea? Thanks!

    • Lisa Johnson Lisa Johnson says:

      William,

      The honest truth is, if someone is going to discriminate against you based on your surname, they are also going to discriminate against you based on your looks. So I don’t know if a photo would make a difference.

      This kind of discrimination depresses me. By all means, someone should dismiss your application if you don’t have the skills and experience, but to bypass you based on your name? That is incredibly shallow.

      I think your best bet to overcome this type of discrimination is to find a good recruiter who is going to promote you to their clients, and by promote, I don’t just mean flick your resume across their desk, but to get in front of the client and to talk in detail about your skills and experience. If this happens, client’s don’t get distracted by names, they get excited about the potential that this person can bring to their business.

      I am sorry I couldn’t be of more help William, but I sincerely hope that nobody does discriminate against you based on your name, but instead looks at your skills and experience.

      Kind Regards

  12. Thankyou for all the posts. Obviously not one size fits all. As a professional teacher of resume and interview skills I have a new take on the discussion. I tell students to use a small photo ( or 3 or 4) that illustrates the skills that the employer requires. For example I train teachers and recommend they take 2 or 3 shots showing games they made interacting with children plus a line underneath explaining this. This makes the CV stand out. This way it has a purpose, places you in the top few percent who will do this plus, combined with meeting the employer first, it gives an association.
    Furthermore I recommend a link to a 1-2 minute You Tube video that is professional and visually illustrates the Key Selection Criteria . This shows IT skills and makes you stand out. Hope my ideas help. (P.S. I have achieved huge things in my life by thinking outside the square!!)
    Kind regards to all. Ian White from Melbourne, Australia.

  13. Matthew Dundon says:

    So why exactly do you have a B&W photoshopped image of yourself next to your very name and profile on here.

    I think its time people faced the truth and realised that resumes are a waste of space in today’s digital age, we all do it because senior (usually older) management is generally involved in the hiring, but the job searching sub-culture and fake resume hoo-ha is being seen through by employers. It wont be long before we all just network using sites like linked in where we can actually have visible professional interactions.

    • Lisa Johnson Lisa Johnson says:

      Matthew

      Your comments made me smile, because I HATE my photo. Believe me, if it was photoshopped it would look a lot more like Jennifer Hawkins and less like Jabba the Hutt. Let me just say that I will never be using that one on a resume anytime soon.

      Interestingly, I believe that far too many people use inappropriate photos on LinkedIn too.

      It’s interesting that you feel that LinkedIn will replace the traditional resume / recruitment process. We have been hearing that for a while now, but whilst LinkedIn is a fabulous networking tool, I think it suffers from a lack of data integrity. People forget to update their ‘profile’ and the thing where people can endorse you for skills is a nightmare – I get endorsed for stuff all the time…from complete strangers.

      Anyway, I am flattered that you thought my hideous photo was photoshopped.

      Regards
      Lisa

  14. Jenny says:

    I wanna agree with you but in our country, it is a must to put picture in resume. Applicants are already judged by looks. I remember when we were applying for an internship, my classmate got rejected ‘coz of her photo in resume. She was already judged by the picture and not because of skills. I tried applying on multinational company and I sent them my resumes that includes my photo and I don’t know if that’s proper but I think they don’t care much of it. They aren’t looking at my picture anyway. 😀

  15. Sharon Pridmore says:

    Thank you.

  16. Collette says:

    If I’m going to be discriminated against because of my photo, won’t I receive the same discrimination in person? Do I really want to wast my time – get dressed up, take time out from the temp job, pay for parking and get myself off to an interview if they’re going to take one look at me and decide I’m not what they’re looking for? Lately I’ve been considering adding a photo to my resume to save myself the bother of going to interviews that are a waste of time. As I’ve been invited for quite a few interviews lately, my resume and skills must be acceptable however I haven’t been successful in being offered a job, and one reason may be my age (I’m 55). You’re going to say that once I get the interview it’s up to me to convince them to hire me, I know, however I think most people have a concept of how they picture themselves and their workplace, and if that concept doesn’t include someone of my age, then I don’t want to waste an afternoon being interviewed by them and would prefer to be rejected based on my photo than be rejected in person.

    • Lisa Johnson Lisa Johnson says:

      Collette,

      I am so sorry, I have only just seen your message.

      I hear what you are saying, and I wish that I could say that discrimination against you because of your age doesn’t happen, but clearly your experience indicates that perhaps it does. Although not having been in the interview with you, I cant wholeheartedly say that it was your age that counted against you.

      If you are happy for those people who want to discriminate against you based on your photo to do so, then put your photo on your resume. But I think we can agree that you HAVE got the interviews that you have because of your skills and experience and unless you can get in front of someone and talk to them about yourself, then you have no chance to convince them that you have not only the skills and experience but the right attitude, loyalty and long term commitment that they are likely looking for.

      Good luck Collette, I hope you find an employer who genuinely values the experience you can bring to the job.

      Regards
      Lisa

  17. Abhishek says:

    Hi Lisa,

    Agree with you, experience / skills matters and resume should talk about that. I really doubt anybody would hire you just based on your looks than your skills.

    I see it more as a trend. I have seen many folks adding photo to resume along with the certifications. Personally, I have never given much attention to candidates photo than their skills which organization is looking for and value one brings to the table.

  18. Jaysheel Pandya says:

    The irony.. Lisa johnson using here own photo while publishing her article…

    • Lisa Johnson Lisa Johnson says:

      Jaysheel…if I could I wouldn’t have my photo on the blog. I loathe that photo with a passion. I whinge about it consistently but it’s company policy to have staff photos on the web site and our company blogs. I love writing blogs and have to accept the photo as part of the deal.

      The issue that I have with it is that I would be rather be judged for the things that I say rather than the way that I look. When we are living in a world where more and more women are experiencing abuse and shame about their photo’s on social media, I worry about that.

      So yes, my blog has my photo. But I wish it didn’t. It makes me incredibly uncomfortable to think that people judge me based on that picture because whilst that IS me, I am far more than a picture. Which is what I am trying to say to everyone..

  19. Kateryna says:

    I don’t use social media. I do put a photo on my resume to have an equal chance with those that use social media )))A Photo is not discrimination, but additional information. Noting is bad or disrespectfull in it… it just up to us.

  20. Soti says:

    I agree with the author but you really need to write an article about linkedin. Cause all the recruiters say dont put photo on cv but you have to have linkedin. A linkedin accmt without a photo is evem worse

    • Lisa Johnson Lisa Johnson says:

      Soti,
      You make an interesting point about LinkedIn. The photo there can be problematic too – if you don’t use a professional looking picture you inevitably draw criticism. I don’t necessarily agree with LinkedIn having photo’s either – BUT primarily LinkedIn is a different beast than a job application. LinkedIn is about networking with peers, companies and colleagues. It was not (initially) set up as a recruitment tool, although I agree it has diversified this way.

      You definitely need a photo on LinkedIn, because that’s the way it works, but always use a professional looking headshot.

      Regards
      Lisa

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