Is it ever OK to include your photo with your resume?

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If you’re like me, your gut reaction to that question is, “Of course not!” However, given that employers use social media to research candidates and spend just a few seconds looking at resumes, will it become acceptable to include photos with your resume?

We received the following question on our LinkedIn group for job seekers and thought we’d share it here to get your insights.

I grew up knowing that “one does not simply put their image on their resume.” This protects the job seeker from first-impression discrimination, and it protects the hiring company from charges of discriminatory or preferential hiring practices.

But as each resume I submit to each non-profit job I am eminently qualified for, am passionate about, and would give my left arm to support is turned down, I start looking for new ways to promote myself and my skills.

In my most recent job, I saw a number of resumes for individuals in different fields (legal, real estate, management, etc.) and several of them had pictures (mind you, these were folks who had graduated 2007 and later.). It got me thinking and researching. As a number of sites and discussion forums point out, we live in a digital age. If a hiring manager or committee is interested in my resume, they are going to do an initial check on me — Google, Facebook, LinkedIN, Google+, Twitter, etc. If you have even one of these social media sites that is in any way public and findable, these people know what you look like before you get (or don’t) that interview.

Should we unemployed and constantly rebranding, reimaging, and reinventing jobseekers rethink the use of our images on resumes?

What do you think? Share your thoughts below.

Have a question you’d like to see here? Send them to me at allison@idealist.org or on Idealist.

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Photo Credit: eurobanks, Shutterstock

About Author

Former Editor and Creator of Idealist Careers, a publication of Idealist.org. Follow me on Twitter @ajlovesya.

9 Comments

  1. Yes. I agree with you Allison. It is ok to put your photo on your resume. I’m glad I see what you look like and I think that any potential employer should see how I look like as well — this is one way to put your best foot forward. Mig —

  2. I agree with the OP that it depends on the field. I work for a career services nonprofit and I am seeing resumes with pictures becoming a trend in the for-profit world. However, many nonprofits that are Equal Opportunity Employers or use Affirmative Action would prefer not to know what you look like at first to eliminate unconscious bias. I agree that it gets tricky with social media profiles (and I coach job seekers to use them for a living so I’m a huge fan), but the way I see it is that employers can choose to look at your social media profile or not to look but they can’t choose whether to look at your resume or not if you are a good candidate.

    TLDR: I would steer clear of using a picture on a nonprofit resume, but I agree that it’s murky.

    • Christina Smith on

      Alyson, you raise exactly the points I was thinking of in terms of the EOE/Affirmative Action hiring practices in nonprofits. Nonprofits have to be very careful how they select and hire individuals.

      However, take for instance a nonprofit for which I recently submitted an application. All over the job description, their website, pictures, etc., they talked about being diverse, serving diverse communities, wanting diverse people to work for them, only wanting to hire people with experience working with diverse groups, etc. etc.

      Well, that is all I have ever done, and my previous work experience shows it. Then again, so does everyone else who submitted an application. The only thing that could make me stand out, to show that I fulfill not only the work experience, but the desire for “diversity,” is what I look like (and no, my name isn’t the kind of name that could subtly hint I’m “other”. It’s about as bland and nondescript as you could think of.).

      In my mind, the thing that could push me to the top, to getting in the door and actually interviewing (forget getting the job, at this point I just want to know I can get in the door), is the one thing I’m traditionally not supposed to put on my resume.

      But, like you said, “it’s murky,” and I’m not likely to take such a big risk when it has the potential to backfire and guarantee I won’t get the job. I just wonder if, with the prevalence of social media, if the no picture tradition is one that deserves rethinking.

  3. I think a photo would be okay. Another thought based on my own experience: I created an emblem of my initials that I put on my resume and all of my documents so that they would have a similar look that stood out. I also used that as my photo on Twitter. I guess in hindsight it was kind of a way of branding myself. If you’re weary of putting a photo up, something like this may be an option.

    • Christina Smith on

      Interesting idea – I love it! I especially like the idea of replacing my face on social media with it. Every “how to improve your job search” says branding is key to success, and this would be a perfect way to start.

  4. In Europe, it’s very common to use a photo with your resume. It’s even recommended, as long as it’s a professional one – otherwise it can also very well work against you.

  5. This is so illegal – they know your gender and age. So many assumptions can be made by employers regarding these details. In North America this is not the norm, nor should it be. In Canada you would be laughed out of the human resources department if you did that, unless you’re an actor and need a head shot.

  6. Old topic, new reply. It really depends not only on the field, but also on the country. Being from Europe I can tell that in some countries it is very common to include a picture on your resume or CV.

  7. Pingback: What do you think of this resume makeover? | Idealist Careers

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