Photo or No Photo on CVs?


Photo or Not Photo on CVs - should I include a photo on my CV? Intepeople Human Resource Consultants NZ

Being in the recruitment business, one question that seems to crop up often is “should I include a photo on my CV?”

It’s actually a great question and not necessarily the easiest one to answer! The recruitment industry is somewhat divided on this topic, but the safest answer is no, you shouldn't include a photo on your CV.

Not having a photo is not likely to HURT your chances of being short-listed for a role, provided your CV and cover letter are well written and showcase your skills. You should want to be judged on your skills and experience, and a photo invites judgement (rightly or wrongly) based on something else.

In some (more litigious) countries, recruiters won’t actually accept CV’s containing photos, for fear of being seen to discriminate based on looks, should they not proceed with an application!

Having a photo on your CV does have the potential for harm, depending on the type of role you are applying for, and the type of photo you choose to use. Some of the photos we have seen really seem to speak for themselves. The “selfie” style popular among young girls (think pouty lips, sultry eyes, shot from above) is not the smartest choice. Nor was the full length shot of a guy sitting in stubbies, holding a cigarette and a beer. And please, no group shots! You should not need to identify yourself “I’m the guy third from the left in the tight jeans”.

But on the flipside...

There is the camp that says that your photo could actually help your chances. It's risky, but there is a chance that your photo may subconsciously influence the recruiter in a positive way. The photo would need to be subtle, and ensure you appear well presented, friendly and approachable. Of course, your CV still needs to fit the bill but it may help you stand out a bit.

As I say – it’s a risky move! Check out this study by Maria Agthe regarding anti attractiveness bias. It seems as though whether or not your picture (and therefore application) is viewed favourably could have a lot to do with the attractiveness and gender of the person viewing it!

So, should I include a photo on my CV?

It remains a hotly debated issue and there probably is no absolutely right or wrong answer. If you do choose to go down the picture route, make sure to use your good judgement. Only put it in if you think the photo will improve your chances of making it to interview. A shot of you standing on the beach in a bikini is not appropriate.

Above all else – if your CV is not yielding you results, then maybe you need to think about changing it.

Are you working on crafting a professional CV that makes you stand out and get your foot in the door? Check out our CV writing tips for job seekers here.

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