Do This One Thing to Make the Photo/No Photo Question a Moot Point

Do This One Thing to Make the Photo/No Photo Question a Moot Point

A very common query that brings people to The Job Quest is, “Should you put a picture on your resume?” This leads them to a guest post that was written in 2010 and provides three reasons to keep a photo off a résumé.

Best practices in most all fields change a lot in five years, and the same can be said of recommendations that should be followed when job hunting. In this case, I would agree with keeping the picture off, unless you work in a field where pictures are standard, like acting or modeling. Same applies if you live in a country where pictures on résumés/CVs are the norm — if your application could get tossed in the garbage because you didn’t include a picture, then you need to make sure it’s on there.

Even though it has been five years, one reason that is still somewhat relevant is that images can mess up résumés processed by applicant tracking systems (ATSs). Depending on the sophistication of the ATS, you may be able to upload a PDF of your résumé, but that’s not always an option.

Discrimination is also still a big topic of discussion for HR in the United States. According to, “Many companies won’t even consider resumes that are submitted with a picture to ensure that they are in compliance with EOE [Equal Opportunity Employment].”

Another reason that I would also advocate for keeping your picture off the résumé is to allow yourself more space to tell your career story. Even with the fact that there is some flexibility on what is considered a permissible length, you don’t want to unnecessarily lengthen the document.

But visuals continue to be the desired mode of learning about someone and feeling connected to a person. How can you achieve that without putting a picture on your résumé?

The solution is quite simple: include the link to a social media account in the header of your résumé.

Now, don’t pick just any old social media presence. You want to be sure that the social media profile you choose can meet the following criteria:

  • It has your picture. Of course, if you don’t have your picture in the profile pic area, this post won’t help you. But really — you do want to have a good picture of you there. Before any conversations can happen in real time, a picture allows others to start building relationships with you. As Meg Guiseppi of Executive Career Brand says, “Your photo helps to personalize and humanize your brand-driven content.”
  • It’s updated frequently. Say you established a profile on a social media platform a few years ago, but you ended up not doing much with it. If you include it on your résumé, folks may wonder how current you really are on the issues related to your field. Instead, pick a profile that receives updates on at least a weekly basis.
  • It’s professionally relevant. If you use Facebook for sharing anecdotes about your kids and debating your political stances, it isn’t going to help prospective employers understand how you could do the job (and could potentially screen you out if they worry about how much time you will need off for sick children or if they don’t agree with your political leanings). But, if you choose to include your LinkedIn profile, which has your career history, opportunities to participate in discussions with industry colleagues, and the ability to share articles and other media that pertain to your field, you are providing a rich understanding of what you have accomplished and your viewpoints on important industry issues.

While many people would choose to use their LinkedIn profile (and it is a valid choice to make), don’t feel restricted by that. Twitter is another option, especially if you are curating a feed with information that covers recent trends in your industry and having conversations with colleagues across the world. Or, if your profession lends itself well to a more visual medium, Pinterest, Instagram, and YouTube could all be viable options. Or maybe there is a niche social media platform that you would like to use.

Whatever you choose to put in the header of your résumé, just be sure that your profile meets the above criteria to best represent who you are and what you have to offer.

Image courtesy of Nick Gregan

Melissa Cooley of The Job Quest, LLC unearths clients’ career examples to showcase the talents and results that make them must-hire candidates. Click here to learn more about partnering with Melissa on writing your résumé, preparing for your next interview, and more!

Melissa is a contributor to the book Nourish Your Career, has been quoted on,, The Daily Muse, and Quintessential Careers, has interviewed numerous times for The Voice of Job Seekers podcast, and has written guest posts for multiple job seeker blogs.

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