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Should you put your photo on your CV?

This is a topic that does cause heated discussions between job seekers, recruiters and hiring companies, because they all believe they know the answer! Well,  the truth is that there is no definitive answer, it is just opinion!
It is interesting though where the opinion sits.

 - Job seekers often (and more frequently now) put their pictures on CV's thinking it will give them the edge.

 - Recruiters often remove photos from CV's that candidates send them before they send them to their clients.

 - Hiring companies don't necessarily expect CV's to have a photo on them, so they are not fussed either way.

Let me explain why I think that you should not put your photo on your CV, but also offer a compromise to the situation.
There is are two words why I don't advocate putting photos on CV's and they are PREJUDICE and DISCRIMINATION. Now you may be shocked or surprised, but let me assure you that in the recruiting process of many, many companies discrimination happens at many levels.
You may say that there are laws prohibiting this, and of course you are right. But does it stop it happening? ………..absolutely not!!

Let me explain why.

I first just want to add, that my opinion is based on my experiences over 20+ years of being in the recruitment industry, across many different sectors, so I feel that there aren't too many things I haven't seen happen!!

You have all heard the advice that is given to you prior to interviews, that you have 20-30 seconds to make an impression on the interviewer. How is that impression made? - your looks, what you are wearing, your handshake and your demeanor. So before you have even sat down, you have likely been judged and decided upon - especially if you don't conform to "normal" work clothes and appearance (ie facial jewelry, coloured hair, religion, extreme makeup, tattoos etc). The fact that you could do the job equally well, if not better than others interviewed becomes irrelevant after that first 30 seconds. The decision has been made!
Now if the hiring company is doing their recruiting properly, then they will likely be using competency interviews and you will be judged on your experiences (hopefully), not your appearance. But in reality many (I would go as far as to say the majority) hiring managers are conservative and male and likely to be in the generation X or boomer age groups. So straight away, generational influences have come into play, and they make a BIG difference, and prejudice comes into play, especially when they are hiring gen Y'ers

So back to the CV. Unfortunately, the same applies to photos's on CV's as above - you will be judged on what you look like. The sad thing is, that attractive blond females are far more likely to get interviews with male recruiters / hiring managers (assuming they have attached a photo of themselves!). And before you cry that it isn't fair - you are absolutely right, but it happens every day in the world of employment!

So, when you are looking for a job, you need to remove any barriers to you being selected for an interview. The photo is such a barrier, and it can stop your progress through an interview process, before it begins with many companies. So the answer, is to let yourself be judged on your experiences and skills, and simply not include your photo at all.

There is a compromise, and that comes in the form of social networking profiles. As a job seeker, I would certainly advocate using the business focused site LinkedIn. Not only does it give you another channel to use for networking and job seeking, it allows you to post an online business profile, including a photo of yourself. So what you do, is to make sure you have a photo of yourself in suitable and applicable business wear - not dressed up as Superman ,which I saw on there last week!! (If you are new to LinkedIn, here is my beginners guide to explain more about it)

You can put a link on your CV to your LinkedIn profile, which recruiters and hiring managers may choose to visit or not. But the benefit of doing it this way, is that they will also get another chance to read about your skills and experiences at the same time, therefore negating the importance of the photo.

So to conclude, give yourself the best chance of getting an interview by leaving your photo off your CV, and work on a LinkedIn profile that helps sell your skills and suitability.

  • Alex Hens

    I agree - absolutely not.

    And for the same reasons I’d say the same thing applies to video resume’s (the current darling of the web stuff & nonsense brigade (mostly heralding from America at the moment it would seem, so watch out for them to hit here in 2010)) - unless of course you’re applying for Big Brother in which case you probably need counseling more than a job.

  • Andy Headworth


    I didn’t even get started on the video resumes, because i haven’t
    actually seen anyone using them!! As you say we might get them 2010 but
    aren’t us Brits just a little too conservative for them just yet?

  • Alex Hens

    I think we are – and I think even the Americans are too (other than the over ego’d self adoring minority – and those who it’s hard sold to). Just to be clear though – I don’t mean that I think it’ll be here as in “be here and part of every day”, but rather as in “the people trying to flog it as the next big thing” will be here in force in 2010.

    Cheezhead in the states has been crackling for some time (in it’s pure press release form) with news of these kinda sites – including some of which are UK based (https://www.cheezhead.com/2009/01/27/jc-talent-on-view/)

    ERE.net similarly has carried an abundance of such “Ra Ra for video” type artices – and example here: https://www.ere.net/2008/12/18/video-is-about-to-become-king-are-you-ready/ - “From as far back as the first CD/ROMS, candidates have been intrigued by the idea of submitting their resume in a video format” – no they haven’t. More accurate to say that some people have been intrigued by the idea of trying to flog such a facility to unsuspecting mugs.

    There are thankfully some voices of reason over State-side – Fistful of Talent do a good job here: https://www.fistfuloftalent.com/2008/12/video-resumes-only-if-youre-ready-to-push-your-chips-all-in.html

    But I’m afraid even some home grown bloggers have perhaps got themselves a little caught up in the excitement of trying to appear the most bleeding edge, jumping on a sales band wagon as it crests the far off horizon: https://www.carveconsulting.com/blog/index.php?title=an_interview_with_visualcv_com&more=1&c=1&tb=1&pb=1 (must remember to push Paul about what he really thinks when next we catch up).

    So it’s definitely one to watch – if only to be amused at some moments of pure muppetry as some well meaning if slightly deluded individuals ruin their own personal brand right across the web for all to see (does my enjoyment of this make me a bad person?)


  • Andy Headworth

    You weren’t joking there! It must be video CV day today, as I have had three conversations about them today. Said the same as you above (but without the links!!)
    Some very valid links to the discussion but I couldn’t find Paul’s video CV!! Maybe he thought better of it!

  • Hiro

    I agree. Pics on the CV helps discrimination, in positive or negative way. I often receive CV from candidates and sometimes I got it with pictures. I remember when I get one with a girl picture, she was amazing and mostly undressed a real pin-up! I laught, shared with collegues but for sure don’t considered it for a permanent position 🙂
    This is the extreme situation but in my daily jobseeking (looking for a position in Qatar or Australia) I don’t put any pic. I want to be evaluated on what I can do for a company that will hire, not because I’m gourgeous or not (for sure, I’m!). About other opportunities to show me, I don’t put my actual pic on Linkedin as well, I have one picture with me at few years on my father arms.

  • Spencer Wood

    If you are going to add a photo on your CV, why not give a great impression by making sure that the photo is retouched first before putting it on your CV. This doesn’t have to be a celebrity style of “airbrushing” but rather to give the photo a professional/studio quality look. Fly-away hairs and spot removal can be done of course. Adding a subtle amount of vibrancy or converting it to a stunning black and white image can help make it eye-catching. A free trial to all new users is currently being offered by https://www.retouchgenie.com

  • Andy Headworth


    While I would normally look at comments like this as spam and blatant
    product marketing, on this occasion you probably do have a point!!

    There is no point having a picture displayed to the world with
    ‘blemishes’ on them.!!!

  • Lisa Scales

    I am intrigued to see that Talent on View is being put into the “nonsense brigade” box according to Alex Hens - I must seek opinion from our current clients (and there are quite a few) who are using our video interviewing software to see how happy they are having the “unsuspecting mugs” moniker?

    In this current market recruiters are looking for ways to cut costs and expedite recruitment processes (funnily enough so are candidates :))so although the term “video resume” to me means diddly squat our clients are seeing true benefits of being able to take a candidate quickly through an interview process using video technology.

    Video is definately gaining momentum with 12 billion minutes of video viewed online monthly. Talent on View is not only working with recruiters but is also involved with social networking, government projects aswell as education. 2 million unemployed in the UK may need a little assistance……

    I would suggest Alex gets in touch with me directly so we can have a chat offline.

    Photos on CV’s - no way - no value add.


  • Ayguldiscovers

    Hello, I just wanted to say that I couldn’t agree more with your article. It just clarified my thoughts and gave the insights into the recruitment industry and their decision behavior. I still will try to land my perfect job. And, I’m a generation Y too.

    Thanks, Aygul Umurzakova

  • Richard Tricker

    Couldn’t agree less!
    In the European Jobs market it’s compulsory to have a photo on your CV! - but that’s not really my argument.

    In fact, if you’re just going put a photo on your CV - just a photo - then there isn’t really a stand alone rational explanation for this and I agree with Sirona on most of her points.

    Video CVs on the other hand are very successful - https://www.cvchannel.tv made two placements this afternoon by allowing clients to search a database of candidates sporting their paper CVs, psychometric tests, and identical structured video interviews.

    I know it’s harder to make videos than simply email your CV out. But it’s actually less time consuming in the long term. No more wasted travel costs for going to the interview where they decide in seconds. Or worse still your recruiter has mis-sold you/the opportunity.
    Once you’ve made your videos on CV Channel, the next thing you hear is an interview request. And you never have to speak to recruiters again!

    For other video platforms look at

    just to name a few.

    The biggest barrier to making a success of video recruitment is not employers accepting the medium, but getting candidates to actually get over their fears and make the videos. Which is why most of the companies doing best in this area are gen Y graduate recruiters.

    This will change. Mark my words!

  • StephenTurnock

    A photo on a CV can be seen as clutter and an unnecessary distraction from a first filtering process based on skills/experience impact. But if you’re a particular rocket scientist with some rare skills that no one has this side of the Outer Hebrides, then unless there is any particular internal espionage going on, it doesn’t matter if you’re sporting a superman or an elephant man costume.

    But for many applicants of the more generic skill types less akin to hen’s teeth in abundance, then you might do well to make an impact on the relevance of your skills and experience without the clutter of a photo.

    Many employers may later check out your LI profile later - perhaps at pre interview stage - and that most likely will have a photo and other dimensions to your experience (as well as demonstrate ones social connectivity & engagement - which is becoming a skill set consideration itself [not just for business development /sales roles)). Interestingly, the ‘apply with your LI profile’ button includes your LI mug shot if you have one.

    Generally a photo is more accepted today that when this post was originally written perhaps, especially if they are as a professional thumbnail format and not a 10Mb pic of your family and dog. But I would say it’s still a no-no to a photo on a CV.

    But the new CV round the corner maybe ones online presence itself and that will do the pre selection talking for skills as well as the recommendation / referrals will play a part.

    We will of course see more video profiles/CV. We ourselves have been using video since 1999, but for interviewing ~ especially connecting overseas clients with candidates to save time and expense and often giving the client a wider initial choice and getting to a final candidate face to face interview sooner.

    CV still rules but no pictures please!

  • CloudNineRec

    OK this is an old-ish blog - but largely read by people who endorse futuristic thinking recruitment.
    Anyone who advocates the use of Social Media in the job seeking process has to realise that there is nothing wrong with the well chosen addition of a picture on a CV.

    Yes there is discrimination. Yes there are decisions made before reading content.
    Would I advise people to use a photo on their CV? - in 50% of cases, no chance. Frankly, to 50% of people a picture on a CV would divide opinion. Hopefully people who would negatively impact, will recognise this when they look in the mirror every morning.

    But the reality of the world in 2011, is that people have a CV, then they look at your Linkedin profile, where there should be a picture. Then they might look at your Facebook profile, which will definitely have a picture.

    We live in a space where online profiles and the existence of personality and personal brand is championed by us modernistic recruiting types. They work.

    This is a great CV with a picture on it:

    This is a great video CV:

    This is a great Online CV:

    This was a great online campaign:

    All use pictures - all got the job. Use your face/profile `well` in positioning, style, personality and relevance - and it can enhance your search and your `hire-ability`.

    So let’s remove `NO` from the answer to this question, and more as `HOW`…

    But also, know when your mugshot is best hidden…

  • Bill Boorman

    Interesting that we say no LinkedIn profile without a picture, but no picture on a C.V. What is the difference?
    I’m not convinced by video CV but infomercials have worked well. I think you have featured a few in the past. There is also a big difference between video CV and video selection.I’ve seen Talent On View, Ovia (I think you featured them as well), and Sonru all work well.

  • W

    Can’t photos on CV’s STOP discrimination?

  • sowrudy@gmail.com

    A bunch of rubbish..!!!

    People who advocate to get rid of photoon resume are usually old people because, if young people put picture on resume, then those old job seeker will lose their chance for interview as I know most employer preferto hire younger candidates

    If the purpose not to put picture is to prevent discrimination, then why on hell people put picture on their linkedin?

    And if the person who recruit discriminate candidate based on the face then why bother discussing this topic? when a candidate comes for the interview, his or her face will be visible anyway unless there is a law to require everyone coming to interview to wear mask.