3 Reasons You Shouldn’t Put a Photo on Your Resume

Today’s post was written by Julie O’Malley of Pongo Resume!

Some formerly clear-cut resume rules are getting fuzzier as the web continues to emerge as the top resource for employers to find candidates and for job seekers to find work. Since we regularly share photos online and plaster our faces on LinkedIn and Facebook, you may be wondering if it’s still taboo to put a picture of yourself on your resume. The answer is yes (for now at least): The no-photo rule still stands.

And here are three good reasons why.

1. Discrimination
Handsome young business executive poses for himself on cameraA picture’s worth a thousand words, and recruiters and employers would rather not hear most of them. It’s illegal to consider factors like age, race, gender, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, or disability status in hiring decisions. So hiring authorities prefer to not “officially” know whether you’re a member of one of these protected classes. If you put a photo on your resume, you reveal some of these details. If the employer later interviews you but doesn’t hire you, it opens the possibility of a discrimination claim. Some companies will even flat-out reject resumes with photos, just to avoid that potential accusation.

2. Technology
Big companies use applicant tracking systems (or ATSs) and databases to digest resumes into standard chunks of text that can be searched based on predetermined criteria. A photograph is a non-standard chunk, and that can cause technical difficulties if the ATS doesn’t recognize the photo file or format.

3. Professionalism
Putting a photo on your resume gives people the opportunity to judge you by your looks, your hairstyle, and your fashion sense, rather than your professional credentials. It doesn’t matter if you’re Hollywood gorgeous or just your average Joe–it’s better not to distract them from the relevant facts in your resume and cover letter.

In the end, the no-photos-on-resumes rule is just a guideline. Use your own judgment. If you’re an actor or a model, ignore the rule since your appearance is a legitimate consideration for employment. If you’re outside the U.S., follow local procedures; some countries expect a photo with your resume or CV. If you’re applying to be a pet groomer, a photo of you and your well-coiffed poodle might give you a huge advantage.

But when in doubt, avoid the visuals. Employers will probably sneak a peek at your online profiles eventually, but their first impression will come from your resume and cover letter. Be sure your words are well-written and targeted to paint a flattering picture of your skills, qualifications, and enthusiasm for the job.

What’s the answer to this question in 2015? For an updated look at this issue, click here!

Julie O'MalleyJulie O’Malley is a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW) and Content Writer for Pongo Resume, a premier, full-service web site for job seekers. Pongo provides all the resume templates, tools, and support needed to write professional resumes and cover letters, ace tough interviews, and secure a great job. For more information, visit www.pongoresume.com.

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  1. Chef Shane
    Twitter: chefshane

    I have been outside of our Western world a few years too many, but the reality is that people and companies do discriminate, every minute of every day.

    I have recently been looking for a position internationally and 95 of employers I have responded to require a CV and a current photo.

    Maybe this advice just applies in the litigious societies such as UK, US, Australia where we like to believe that judging people unequally is buried in our distant past. LOL.

    It’s interesting that your photo is at the base of the article too. Using the same logic, the article should be judged on its merits, however placing your photograph on it allows people to alter their opinion of its context and content based on their perception of you in the image.

    I believe a photograph personalises us and allows others to see us, understand us a little and form a connection – or otherwise.

    If I don’t get a job because they don’t like what I look like – I consider myself happy that I am not working for that person or company. Their loss, not mine.
    Just my opinion.

    Thought-provoking article. Thanks.

    • I totally agree with you in that, specially in place where friends in need is friends indeed, and tribals society controlled employers, regardless the writter did put here photo or not, some companies and organizations request to upload a recent self-picture once applying on a job through their sites, so i think it might be working only at those litigious society likewise.

      put I am planning to apply for a job in the states so i found that will help me alot though,

      its very nice provoking article.

      Mohamed, A

    • Absolutely correct Chef Shane. The politically correct stupidity of pretending age, looks and gender don’t exist only occurs in the western hemisphere. Of course discrimination exists and I’d personally rather be judged at the resume/CV stage. After all, your face and details will become apparent at the interview stage anyway – why wait?

      Sorry folks, but can you imagine what this politically correct nonsense sounds like outside the west? It’s laughable and using it won’t find you employment anywhere else in the world.

      • Melissa Cooley
        Twitter: TheJobQuest

        Thank you for your reply, John!

        One thing to keep in mind is the fact that this post is more than four years old. As Ms. O’Malley stated at the onset of the post, “The answer is yes (for now at least).” She acknowledged when she wrote this in 2010 that the advice she put forth may change in the future. Given that the rules that dictate the jobs landscape are changing all the time, some of the advice given here may not be current.

  2. Karen F.
    Twitter: theresumechick

    Great article Julie. :-) Why anyone would include a picture on a resume (aside from the valid reasons you pointed out), I do not understand. There are better ways of landing the job without being subject to discrimination or other forms of judgment. Your resume and cover letter should be good enough to stand on their own, even without visual effects!

    Karen, The Resume Chick (on Google or Twitter for questions, comments or violent reactions)

  3. @Chef Shane

    Great comment. And I totally agree with you! Your point about my photo at the end of the post is excellent. Seeing a photo DOES make us rearrange our perceptions to fit the visual information — A hiring manager, upon seeing a candidate’s photo, might think, “Oh, this person is older than I thought,” or “What an ugly tie,” or “This kid looks like a 12-year-old!” It’s not fair, but it’s reality :)


  4. Thanks, ResumeChick!

  5. Karalyn Brown
    Twitter: interviewIQ

    Great post. I am with you for no photos on resumes, in Australia. We’re not used to seeing them and are drawn to the unexpected on the photo, like a strange tie/haircut etc. Yet I agree with Shane, some countries like them. Sometimes you can use them to make you stand out. And yes we have our photos all over the web, Twitter, LinkedIn and the like so it does seem bizarre that we say its a good thing to personalise the web, but not a piece of paper.

  6. Thanks, Karalyn. Good to know Australia has the same funny rules. You’re right that it’s bizarre… but for now, that’s the way we play the game.

  7. Thanks for this article. I did use a photo on my resume, and I always heard it’s a good thing and I just got used to having it (in my country a great majority of people actually place a photograph). Nevertheless, I sent my CV over to a friend which lives in other EU country and she was surprised and said she have seen many CV’s at the company she works for and never seen a single picture. So I googled it and realised it’s pointless, takes extra space and I actually don’t want to be judged by my look.

  8. Ironic how the author does attach a photo of herself to the article. While not a CV, similar arguments can apply to not bias an article. We are soon entering 2014, digital media has taken over and to make a point that a photo should not be included is becoming more and more obsolete.

    • I can’t take anti-photo resume advise from someone who attaches their photo to their article. I got called in many more times for interviews with my photo on my resume than without. My present employer told me it made my resume stand out and they were very impressed that I included it. My new job is in finance. It’s a changing world!

      • Melissa Cooley
        Twitter: TheJobQuest

        Thanks for the comments!

        The world certainly is changing, and three years can make a big difference in job hunting advice! As Ms. O’Malley stated at the onset of the post, “The answer is yes (for now at least).” She acknowledged when she wrote this in 2010 that the advice she put forth may change in the future.

        I agree that point #1 doesn’t make as much sense in today’s world. I have had clients who are contacted about openings via LinkedIn, so the company already knows what the candidate looks like. But I won’t totally write off #1 because it does depend on how HR is perceiving it.

        As for professionalism (point #3), there are a lot of professional industries that include photos — real estate agents, attorneys, doctors, and so on. The reason why they include their pictures is because it starts the process of building relationships with potential clients. It makes the other person more tangible and is (for better or worse) a part of marketing ourselves.

        However, point #2 is still valid. For example, the applicant tracking systems (ATSs) that are prevalent among major companies are challenged to process anything but words and numbers. If a candidate has a table in his/her resume, there are going to be problems. Photos definitely won’t go through an ATS. Of course, if a job seeker is applying to a smaller company that doesn’t use an ATS, this point doesn’t apply.

  9. Great article! I can understand why some people think its a great idea to put a photograph of themselves on their resume but I totally agree with you too! I don’t think the thought of putting my photograph on would ever cross my mind!

    Thanks for sharing!


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