Do I add a photo to my resume?

Dear Resume Survis Lady,

I was talking to a Professional Resume Writer and he suggested I add a picture to my resume.  I had never heard of this before.  Is this something new and I’m behind the times?

I have started to see more and more resumes come through with pictures on them, however they are still very few and far between on them.  So no, I don’t think you’re behind the times with that one.  My personal opinion regarding photos on resumes is to save the photos for your LinkedIn profile but leave them off your resume.  Why?  I left my opinion out of it as I posted this question in one of the many Recruiting groups I belong to on LinkedIn. What I found was the responses I received echoed my own thoughts on the matter.

Before I get into the reasons, I just want to remind everyone that I am NOT an attorney.  Now that we have that business out of the way, let’s talk about why there should not be pictures on resumes.  The first reason you will want to leave your picture off your resume is because most electronic means by which you will be submitting your resume for a position will not be able to read the photo and will instead replace it with gibberish.  When your resume is read electronically and comes across something it cannot interpret, it turns that into a bunch of symbols, numbers and letters which in turn takes out the formatting of your resume and makes it very difficult for the person on the other end of the resume.  If the recruiter or hiring manager cannot read your resume, they will not be able to give your resume proper consideration.

The second reason you will want to leave your picture off of your resume is that if it does make it intact through an electronic applicant tracking system, your resume might not be looked at due to the fear of discrimination based on what you look like.   Again, I am NOT an attorney.  If you submit a resume with your picture on it, there could be pre conceived notions about age, race, etc.    So, if it’s notice during the application process that there is a picture file attached, they will not open or consider the resume to avoid what could be perceived by others as a bias.

So why is a picture okay on LinkedIn but not on a Resume?  The answer might surprise you.  A LinkedIn profile is not considered an  application however a resume that’s been submitted for a position is considered to be expressing interest in the position.  In simpler terms, it’s the difference between being an applicant and being a social networker.

Bottom line, leave the photos off your resume and instead put them to good use on your LinkedIn profile for networking purposes.

To have your resume or job search questions answered by Resume Survis Lady, or have her help you with your resume, email her at: resumesurvislady@gmail.com or on twitter: resumesurvisldy or connect with her directly on LinkedIn by sending her an invite to connect: resumesurvislady@gmail.com

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19 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Catherine S (Photography and Design)
    May 03, 2011 @ 08:59:51

    Thank you for the insight regarding adding a photo of oneself.

    What about adding photos of one’s work? I am a photographer. 🙂

    Reply

  2. Catarina Alexon
    May 03, 2011 @ 12:02:39

    Sorry but I disagree with you. You should post your photo on your CV.

    That an applicant looks presentable is sometimes essential for a job. For instance when I was running an international press agency in London we needed people that looked normal and presentable. You cannot send someone who looks like a terrorist to interview say, Obama, since he would cause a security alert. Believe me it would. A Saudi I know who wasn’t a jihadi, just happened to have a beard was almost shot at by marines outside the US embassy. The minute they set eyes on him they shouted “Hey, you there….”

    When it comes to age, race and other reasons you mention employers may as well find out from the beginning? What’s the point of going to an interview that’s not going to result in anything due to the way you look?

    If you send your CV as a pdf there will be no electronic problems and the rectuiter will be able to read it and look at your picture.

    Reply

    • resumesurvislady
      May 03, 2011 @ 12:08:36

      I appreciate your thoughts and while elsewhere in the world you might be able to turn a candidate down for one of the reasons you mentioned, in the U.S. it is illegal to discriminate.

      By far and away the top reason not to include a picture still remains that companies applicant tracking systems can not read the image and leads to a distortion of the resumé.

      Reply

      • Catarina Alexon
        May 10, 2011 @ 13:08:16

        It’s illegal in Europe as well. Actually think it was before it became illegal in the US. However, more and more even public institutions ask for photos. Sometimes it’s actually necessary. Simple as that.

  3. Yankee Texan Mom
    May 04, 2011 @ 06:13:55

    As someone who spent 15 years in Human Resources, I COMPLETELY agree with you on this. Submitting resumes electronically changed the game. All of the time and effort previously spent on making it all look “pretty” now needs to be spent making sure that it is formatted correctly to be accepted.

    I spent a great deal of my career in recruiting and if a resume couldn’t be read because of the format, it didn’t get reviewed. We didn’t have the time or the resources to “fix” that resume.

    Reply

  4. Jennifer Woodard
    May 05, 2011 @ 07:47:55

    I agree that leaving a photo off your resume is a good idea, it seems a good way for people to discriminate against you. People don’t always realize they are discriminating when they are doing it and people do judge people by the way they look and every one has different reasons for discriminating against people (weight, attractive, unattractive, race, etc.)

    Being African American when I was growing up I hated being named Jennifer. It just wasn’t a black girls name. When I became an adult and entered into corporate America and started sending resumes, the name benefited me. People judged my resume based on my skills and did not find out I was African American until I arrived at the interview and there were many times I registered the surprise on people faces. But luckily they let it pass because they had already determined I was qualified and most times got the job. Many times companies will tell workers of a new employee and many times I had co-workers tell me they were expecting a white girl due to my name.

    So in this sense, I would leave a picture off a resume to help eliminate the opportunity to discriminate.

    Great post,
    Happy blogging,
    Jenn

    Reply

    • resumesurvislady
      May 05, 2011 @ 10:39:35

      Jennifer….I have had a similar experience in my career with my first name as Billye. People just assume I’m a guy. At least a few times a week after communicating with a candidate via email we’ll have a conversation and when I announce who I am they’ll chuckle and immediately apologize for calling me Mr or Sir in the emails. 🙂

      Reply

  5. Sherryl Perry
    May 05, 2011 @ 12:34:34

    I think this is great advice Billye. I wasn’t even aware that people were starting to include their photos. I think your resume should speak for itself. If I were hiring someone, I would find it a little odd to see a photo. I might even question their motives. Besides, doesn’t it take up a lot of valuable space? I agree that you absolutely have to have your photo on your LinkedIn profile. Are peoople including reference to their LinkedIn photos on their resumes these days?

    Reply

  6. Renee
    May 06, 2011 @ 07:42:14

    I heard something about this on the radio and found out that women do this more than men. I’m not sure why it started either, it seems so unimportant but truth be told, people do judge you positively or negatively based on how you look…which is sad.

    Reply

  7. Jill Tooley
    May 06, 2011 @ 16:23:00

    I agree with you, Billye. Pictures don’t have any place on resumes. There’s nothing wrong with including a LinkedIn URL for the employer’s convenience, but a headshot at the top of a resume just seems unprofessional to me! And you brought up a great point about the possible gibberish the photo could be translated into – that could really work against you. Personally, I don’t like knowing what applicants look like before I actually meet them. All of my impressions are formed from the person’s skills and resume itself, not on looks. Besides, I like to be surprised! 🙂

    Reply

  8. deanhansen
    May 09, 2011 @ 09:53:38

    From what I see the photo on the resume thing is more European. I personally think it leaves too much to chance. We all want to be interviewed based on your experience. There are so many possible reasons that someone could choose not to hire you based on appearance. Let your interview be your opportunity to prove yourself.

    Reply

  9. C
    Jul 28, 2011 @ 11:21:48

    We are all from mostly from Europe except for the Indians! I also think nothing is black or white. I would prefer a professional picture of someone in addition to viewing their skills. Also we are all so concerned about discrimination, yet in the US there is so much discrimination happening in work places despite laws that are “supposed” to protect people. This is probably why we have to have so many laws because without them, it would be much worse. A “European thing” is sometimes not a bad thing either. Problem is that in every part in the world there exists narrow-mindedness fundamental views on what is proper or not!

    Reply

  10. Giedre
    Sep 03, 2011 @ 10:09:16

    It was really interesting to read your article, dear Billye. Thank you. However, some of the comments really surprised me. It seems to me like nowadays people are so panicly afraid of being discriminated that they start hiding all that can be hidden – their photo, age etc… Why is that? Why don’t they simply admit that most of the times it does matter how we look, behave or speak. I always add my picture to my resume and I never have any problems because of this. If i didn’t get the possition, I would never think that the emploer discriminated me for my face, hair color or similar. I would think that I just wasn’t suitable there, whatever the reason. There are and always will be standarts of how people should look in one or another possition. I am european and I am a lawyer. I have never seen an advocate having, for example, bright pink hair and long green nails. And I see no discrimination here. Those who look extravagant can have a perfect and well paid possition in another sphere – music, advertisements, shows, art or somewhere else, where they want. I respect everyone and I am against any kind of discrimination. But I think people should relax and stop blaming each other for discrimination if they don’t get what they want. It is always much easier to say that you were discriminated for some reason instead of admitting that you weren’t qualified enough for the possition, your hair looked terribly messy or you did not dress apropriately for the interview.

    Reply

    • resumesurvislady
      Feb 18, 2012 @ 07:34:12

      There’s a big difference in accepted practices in other countries regarding resumes and accepted practices within the U.S. Due to issues around OFCCP compliance for government contractors, fear of being accused of discrimination and reverse-discriminitation, etc some recruiters and hiring managers are afraid of being accused of discrimination so instead to avoid the issue all together, do not consider candidates with their picture on their resume. As a recruiter, it has been a few years since I have seen a photo on a resume. In fact, most applicant tracking systems (where your resume goes once submitted for a position) do not have the capability of reading graphics so the picture would not go through for viewing.

      Reply

  11. jenn
    Apr 27, 2012 @ 19:48:12

    should your resumes always be on whiter paper and in black and white ink? can you write in any other color or would they just toss it out. what do you think?

    Reply

    • resumesurvislady
      Apr 28, 2012 @ 15:59:23

      The color of the paper and ink do not matter, the majority of the time your resume will be sent electonically which I suggest for the most part remain white with black lettering for ease of reading on a computer screen. If you are submitting a paper resume, be sure to verify with the company that you are applying to that they are able to accept physical resumes as most companies will only accept electronic submissions.

      Reply

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