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Formatting your resume: choose the right resume picture?

Jelena Lukic

Published 26th October , 2020

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Making a good first impression can be truly important when it comes to getting a job. Even though it often isn’t mandatory, including a great resume picture into your cv can be the detail that propels you above other applicants. This is true because a good photo can give the recruiters an insight into the way you present yourself, as well as your personality. Here are some guidelines for choosing the perfect photo for your resume.

Characteristics of Good Resume Images

While an official guidebook to resume photos doesn‘t exist, some rules still apply no matter the job. Here are some general tips about resume photos.

A man standing in front of a whiteboard and smiling.
Here are some basics.

A great resume picture shows that you are professional

This doesn’t necessarily mean it has to be taken by a professional, but its quality should still be high. Dress appropriately for the job you are applying to, and make sure to take care of your hygiene before taking the photo. Some things are expected from both genders. Women should apply minimal makeup as to make them look well-rested, and men should shave, or trim and comb their beards.

A smile does wonders for a resume picture

In general, people are more drawn toward people who are smiling. A smile shows you are approachable and friendly, which are characteristics most employers appreciate. However, this doesn’t mean forcing yourself to smile, since it can come across as artificial. Additionally, not everyone has a great smile, but that shouldn’t stop them from getting a job. Thus, you can try to smile with your eyes.

Many headshots of smiling diverse people.
A smile can do a lot for a candidate.

A headshot is the safer option

If you are wondering if you should include a headshot or a full body picture, the first option is almost always more favorable. This, of course, isn’t the case when it comes to applying for modeling jobs. Additionally, jobs in the creative field allow applicants more freedom to express themselves too.

Pay attention to technical details

As we have previously stated, you don‘t have to go to a professional photographer for a resume picture (with headshots being the exception). However, including a grainy or unclear photo in your CV can only harm you as it is redundant and can be considered unprofessional. Make sure to use an at least decent camera or phone.

If you are applying for an acting or modeling job, you should research the preferred headshot dimensions and guidelines in your area. However, for most other jobs, a resume photo should be just big enough to showcase your features. A photo can be a great visual addition and make the resume more dynamic. However, in the current employment climate, where one-page resumes are the standard, it shouldn‘t take up too much valuable space.

The background of a resume picture is important

However, most people aren’t applying for a highly artistic job. Thus, a neutral background is the best option for most people. This can mean a light single color background or wall. Don’t use a photo taken in a pub or any similar location.

The pros and cons of including a photo in your resume

As we have previously mentioned, a CV photo isn’t mandatory in most countries (South Korea being one of the exceptions). We believe you should take some time to decide whether you would like to include one.

Illustration of a job interview.
Now you can make an informed decision.

The pros:

  • You can present yourself without a single word
  • Pictures naturally draw the eye

The cons:

  • It can be deemed as unprofessional
  • There is a risk of discrimination based on your photo
  • Photos can confuse automated applicant tracking systems

As you can see, including a photo in your resume can’t exactly get you the job, but it can prevent an employer from further considering you as a candidate. You will have to take this into consideration as well.

A way to surpass the resume picture trap

A candidate’s looks don’t tell much about their ability to do the job. That is why a resume picture shouldn’t be the main focus of any resume. Every employer that works in the company’s best interest should consider a candidate’s knowledge and experience first and foremost. Their looks, ethnicity, religion, or disability shouldn’t factor in. If you are unsure about including a photo in your resume, you can circumnavigate it and highlight your accomplishments first.

Our online resume maker allows users to effortlessly include links to their social media into their resume. Linkedin is the biggest online platform for professionals at the moment, and you can add your profile in no time. This way your photo will not be the focus of your resume, but it will be available to recruiters who take an interest in your application.

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