Should I Include a Profile Photo on My Resume in 2020? (Tips & Examples)

Should I Include a Profile Photo on My Resume in 2020? (Tips & Examples)

To include or not to include (a profile photo or a selfie) — that is the question.

Written by Marina Li • Last updated on Oct 06, 2020
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Introduction

A good resume is your golden ticket to your dream job. It is important to effectively present yourself and your experience on your one-page resume. One might ask -- should I present myself with a photo on my resume or just text?

When you ask your peers or mentors, you are likely to get diverging opinions. The results are even more blurred when you seek help from Google.

The answer to this frequently asked question is that it depends — very similar to the GPA dilemma. You’re probably tired of hearing this answer over and over again. However, when deciding whether to include your photo on your resume, it is especially important to consider the circumstance as it can make or break your chances of landing a position. In this guide, we will dive into the various scenarios when you should or should not include your profile photo on your resume and examples of good and bad profile photos.


1. How to decide whether I should include a profile photo?

Let’s first start with the scenarios when you should NOT include your profile photo on your resume. There are two major considerations you have to take note of when deciding whether to include your profile photo or not -- the country of employment and the industry you are applying for. Let’s take a closer look.

A. Country of employment

One of the major concerns you should consider is the country of employment. Depending on the country, there are different company practices in regards to recruitment and selection.

Some countries have anti-discrimination employment laws in place to prevent discriminatory behaviors towards applicants. In this case, depending on the country and company, if your resume has a profile photo, your resume might be disqualified before the employer even has the chance to read your qualifications.

Countries that accept photos on a resume:

  • China
  • Japan
  • European countries (except for UK, Ireland, Netherlands and Sweden)

Countries that DO NOT accept photos on a resume:

  • United States of America
  • Canada
  • United Kingdom

Countries without clear-cut practices:

  • Netherlands
  • Ireland
  • Netherlands
  • Australia
Tip: Research is key!

These are just general country guidelines and companies within the countries might differ in practices, but this is a good starting point when deciding whether to include your profile photo on your resume. For the countries without clear-cut practices, a good way to approach this is to consider your industry, which we will be going over next.

Source: Experteer

B. Industry

The second determining factor for the profile photo dilemma is the industry you are applying for. Depending on the industry, profile photos on resumes might be encouraged or frowned upon.

Generally speaking, if your physical features are crucial to the hiring and selection process, it is a good idea to include a profile photo on your resume.

This would be applicable for industries like the performing arts and fashion. For instance for actors, performers, dancers, models and other relevant positions, it would be appropriate and helpful for employers if you include a profile photo on your resume.

On the other hand, if you are in industries that require more professionalism, such as law enforcement, finance, business, medicine, technology or if you are applying for a federal position, you should steer away from including a profile photo on your resume and let your work experience and skills speak for themselves.

For these sectors, having your profile photo on your resume might be seen as unprofessional and can hurt your chances of landing the position.

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2. Benefits of including a profile photo

Regulations aside, including a profile photo on your resume can be a great way for employers to “connect” with you through your resume.

With a profile photo, employers can easily put a name to a face and picture you as a candidate instead of just reading plain texts and making limited associations in their minds. It can humanize you as an applicant and allow employers to think of you as a person rather than just a piece of paper. This makes you more memorable in employers’ minds and might increase your chances of being considered for your desired position.

Additionally, if your profile photo is professional and pleasant, bonus points for you! (For situations where profile photos are permitted/encouraged).

However, there are some circumstances where your profile photo can hurt you even if profile photos on resumes are accepted and encouraged for the company. That is when you have a bad profile photo.

3. Do’s and Don’ts when choosing your profile photo

Now that you’ve decided to include a profile photo on your resume, you have to do it RIGHT. Otherwise, including the photo will only hurt your chances of landing your dream job. Here is a list of do’s and don’ts when you select your profile photo.

4. Examples of good + bad resume profile photos

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5. How to show your photo without including it on your resume

Don’t want to risk your chances by including your profile photo on your resume, but still want to leave a personable impression? Don’t worry! There are ways to do this without including your profile photo on your resume

A. List your professional social media accounts on your resume

Direct employers to your LinkedIn page and other professional social media accounts you may have. Ideally, you would have a professional profile photo on those platforms, at least on LinkedIn. You can follow the tips from above for social media profile photos as well.

This way, you can allow employers to put a face to your name and remember you better without displaying your photo on your resume.

B. Put down your website or portfolio link

If you have a website or a digital portfolio, show it on your resume and direct employers to the link. Not only can you include a profile photo on your website, but you can also include any photos from previous work or education experience you want employers to see.

Not only is this going to make you more memorable, but this can also give employers a better picture of who you are as a person.

C. Attach your business card

If you wish, you can staple your business card together with your resume (if you’re planning to hand employers a physical copy of your resume, during job fairs, networking events, or during an interview.) You can take advantage of the business card and include a professional photo on there if you don’t want to directly include it on your resume.

This way, even though it’s after you met with the employer, the photo on the business card can act as a friendly reminder to the employer of who the applicant is -- this is especially useful if the employer met with multiple applicants during a networking event.


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Conclusion

Including your profile photo on your resume can be a great way to get employers' attention and make yourself a memorable candidate. However, you must take note of when and when NOT to include your profile photo depending on the country of employment and the specific industry and job you're applying for.

It's crucial to do prior research before making your decision. You reading this article is a great first step!

To recap:

  1. You should first check if a profile photo on resumes are allowed in your country
  2. Consider the nature of your industry and the specific job you are applying for. If it's appearance based or in a creative field, you could include a profile photo on your resume. If it's a professionalism-heavy position, we encourage you to stay away from a profile photo on your resume.
  3. Remember to follow our Do's and Don'ts in the article when selecting your profile photo. Otherwise, a bad profile photo might hurt your chances of landing a position.
Marina Li

Marina is a senior at George Mason University pursuing a degree in Communication (Public Relations) and minoring in Marketing and Tourism & Events Management. She is passionate about branding and career development. During her free time, she likes to try out new recipes, cozy up on the couch with a good book, and watch musicals.

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