Should Your Resume Have A Photo?


Are you a model?


Are you an actor?


Do they ask for a photo in the job ad?


If the answer to all of those is “No” and you include a photo anyway, you could be headed for immediate resume rejection!


That’s the result you’ll get if you include a photo or birth date on your resume for the North American market.  Why?  Hiring managers can’t be seen to discriminate on the grounds of age or how someone looks. So, it’s easy to have a policy where they’re not considered at all.


Is Your Resume Template Ruining Your Chances of Winning the Job?


So why do so many ‘resume templates’ for sale online include a space for a photograph, encouraging their usage?


Notice how these resume templates tend to showcase someone who looks like or could be a model?  Try imagining what it’d look like with your own mugshot slapped onto it. Will it looks as good?


Unless the sellers of these resume templates also include the specifics of when and when not to use a photograph when applying for a job, could these resume templates inadvertently be ruining someone’s chance of securing their dream job?


In some parts of the world, a photo is expected.  Indeed, in some professions in North America it can also be expected and this requirement will usually be stated explicitly in the ad. However, for all other positions, you should not use this a photograph in your document.


A World of Difference

Around the world, resume styles and whether or not you should include a photo are informed by cultural preferences.  However, in the USA, Canada and U.K. labor and anti-discrimination laws prohibit employers seeking certain types of information.  A photo may well reveal gender, age, ethnicity, religion, and physical characteristics, and as such one can understand why an employer may choose to abandon your application rather than risk retribution.


So, if you are in the USA, Canada, UK, Netherlands, or Finland do not add a photo to your resume.  If you are applying for work in Japan, China, or the EU (except UK, Ireland, Netherlands, Sweden) you should include a photo.  Germany, despite its anti-discrimination laws, have a traditional German CV format which typically has room for a photo. 


Confused?  Play it Safe. Perhaps best to canvas opinion from the company you intend to target before choosing the “wrong” option.


Gender Bias


Is this fair? Do people really make hiring decisions based on how someone looks?


Can the way someone looks impact the decision to advance them through the process or not?


A few decades ago, new measures were introduced to combat the contention that symphony orchestra hiring practices encouraged gender bias. 


A study titled “Orchestrating Impartiality: The Impact of “Blind” Auditions on Female Musicians” by Claudia Goldin and Cecilia Rouse (Source: The American Economic Review, Vol. 90, No. 4 (Sep. 2000), pp. 715-741 Published by: American Economic Association) found that the introduction of blind auditions could explain 30 percent of the increase in the proportion female among new hires. 


Musicians auditioned behind a screen which allowed the hiring team to assess pure musical talent.  Many orchestras adopted this practice during the preliminary screening whereas others adopted it throughout the entire process.


The percentage of hired females rose from 6% to 21% between 1970 and 1993, by 1997 the female composition in orchestras was up to 25% and some are now in the 30s.


It was found that by even using this process in the preliminary round, it increased the chances of a female advancing to the finals by as much as 50%.


All in all, the blind audition procedure was credited with cultivating impartiality in hiring and with increasing the proportion of women in symphony orchestras.


Guess what?  Seeing what someone looks like early on can actually affect the hiring process.




If the job ad doesn’t explicitly require it, don’t do it.