Resume Photos: Pros, Cons, and When to Include One
Written by James Bunes, Author • Last updated on May 13, 2024

Photos on your resume: do or don’t?

“Should I put a photo on my resume?” This is a common question that many job seekers wonder. On one hand, you want to include a crisp, professional photo if it’s expected – but if it’s not, then it’s just taking up crucial resume space. Let’s dive in and learn more.

Should you include a photo on your resume?

Resume photos are common in some industries and countries, but are relatively unheard of in others. In fact, sometimes they’re outright discouraged. In the US, it isn’t common to include a photo on your resume, especially because some people believe it invites unconscious bias into the hiring process. However, a select few people still do it.

This is similar to how things are in the UK and Ireland.

In these regions, it may be best to omit a photo on your resume and leave room for more skills and experience, especially because some recruiters remove photos from resumes before sending them to hiring managers to reduce the risk of bias. However, resume photos are very common in European and Asian countries, so it’s important for job seekers targeting those areas to consider them.

Advantages of a photo on your resume

The debate on whether or not to include resume photos continues and highly depends on the location of the company you’re applying to. With that in mind, here are some key advantages to including photos on your resume, even in countries where pictures aren’t as popular. Here are a few of the pros of using resume photos:

  • Essential for modeling and acting: Resume photos are crucial in modeling, acting, and any other industry where your appearance is necessary for the role.
  • Gives recruiters more confidence with language teachers: A photo gives employers a firm idea of your ethnicity, which can make them more confident when hiring language teachers. For example, an American applying to a Korean school might increase their chances of getting hired by showing the hiring manager upfront that they’re a native English speaker.
  • Helps you stick in the recruiter’s memory: Many recruiters remember faces better than names, so including your picture helps you stand out and remain memorable in a crowd.
  • Enables you to establish your personal brand: Some professionals, especially freelancers, may be trying to build a personal brand. Resume photos help you get your face out there.

Disadvantages of a photo on your resume

However, there are disadvantages to putting a picture on your resume, as well. Here are a few to consider:

  • Photos may not be processed by applicant tracking systems: It might not be a good idea to include photos if you’re trying to build an ATS resume. Some software might have trouble scanning resumes with photos.
  • Resume pictures invite unconscious bias: Photos make an immediate impression and enable recruiters to unconsciously judge you on your appearance, which can invite gender, age, race, and attractiveness bias.
  • Adding a photo takes up space: A photo takes up valuable space on your resume that you could use to list additional skills. This is especially important for job seekers who have a lot of experience to list.
  • Some industries believe they are unprofessional: Some industries, like tech, believe that resume photos are unprofessional and unnecessary.

Expert Tip:

Modern resumes nearly always include links to social media profiles, such as LinkedIn. If you’re determined to include a resume photo but aren’t sure if it’s appropriate, just make sure to have a professional picture on your LinkedIn profile. That way, if a recruiter is interested in you, they can navigate to your social media and you’ll still reap the benefit of sticking in their memory.

Tips for your photo

For those of you who decide to create a resume with a photo, let’s go over a few best practices. Here are our top tips for taking and including resume photos:

  • Use a clear, light background: The background of your photo should be pale, such as off-white or light blue. This makes a professional photo that’s brighter and clearer.
  • Always smile: Show recruiters that you’re approachable and friendly by smiling, but don’t go over the top. A simple smile will do.
  • Dress for the industry and role: You should be dressed in role-appropriate clothing in your resume photo, which is usually business casual. The dress code is also tied to company culture, so it’s best to research the company and what kind of clothing they prefer.
  • Use the right format: Keep your photo small and in the corner of your resume, about the size of a LinkedIn profile or passport.
  • Consider a professional headshot for some roles: If it’s for a modeling or acting gig, it may be a good idea to consider going to a professional photographer.
  • Take the photo from a flattering angle: Most resume photos should be taken from head-on and at a neutral angle. If it’s subtle, you may have the camera to the side and turn your head towards it.
  • Use the right lighting: You don’t want your picture to be dark or heavily shadowed, so ensure you take your photos in a well-lit room.

Now let’s quickly cover the “don’ts” of resume photos:

  • Don’t use party or vacation photos: Resume photos need to be professional, so don’t use any images taken at beaches or bars, even if they’re clear and well-lit.
  • Don’t use a selfie: Have a friend or a professional help you take your picture. You can also use the timer function on your camera to take it yourself, as long as your arm isn’t in the photo. 
  • Don’t go overboard – stay simple: Don’t try too hard to stand out from the crowd. Don’t wear flashy outfits, wear intense makeup, or style your hair ostentatiously. 
  • Don’t use group photos: Group photos are not only unprofessional, but they also cause confusion as to which person the resume is for.
  • Don’t have obstructions on your face: Things like hair in your eyes or sunglasses obscure your face. Make sure your features are clear and visible.

Overall, it’s important to use a photo that’s simple, professional, and high-quality. If you need inspiration, try browsing LinkedIn and looking at people’s profile pictures – they’re pretty similar to the ideal resume photo.

You can also check out CVWizard’s Resume Templates to see some examples of resumes with photos. This gives you a great idea of how to take a picture and how to format it.

“In the US, it isn’t common to include a photo on your resume, especially because some people believe it invites unconscious bias into the hiring process.”

Conclusion: Photo on your resume or not?

Resumes with photos are a polarizing topic, but as long as you understand the norms of the area and industry you are applying to, you can tailor your approach to match. We recommend that US job seekers leave resume photos off and use that extra space for skills, experience, and education – they are what matters most to US employers. If you are applying to a region or industry that prefers you include a photo, follow our top tips to ensure you take a professional, clear picture. Whether you are including a photo on your resume or not, you can check out CVwizard’s Resume Builder as the next step to create a beautiful, simple resume in minutes.

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James Bunes
James Bunes
James Bunes, copywriter, editor, and strategist, combines job search and HR writing experience to produce actionable content on resumes, career advice, and job search tactics.

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