This blog was originally posted at taraflannery.com.  Click the link to see examples of great professional photos!

As you are pulling yourself together and getting ready to embark on a job search, is it necessary to have a professional photo to go along with your resume?  I think it is becoming more and more important, but there are a few things to consider before you pick out a snapshot and paste it next to your name.

First of all, there are a couple of things I have to say:

  • In the United States, it is generally illegal for employers to consider your photo in a hiring decision.   If an employer can’t use race, ethnicity, gender, etc. to make a hiring decision, it may not be smart to include your photo on your resume itself.  After all, your resume is a tool to get you hired, right?
  • Second, recruiters are human.  If they are good, smart recruiters, they won’t judge you based on your picture.  However, if they met 300 candidates at a job fair yesterday, your photo may help them remember you from everyone else.

I absolutely do not think you should include your photo on your resume, barring a few exceptions.  However, job searches today are so much more than resume drop-offs.  Your LinkedIn profile, Facebook information, and personal website are integral parts of your job search.  Having a photo as part of your online presence is critical.  That scary grey silhouette that comes with an incomplete profile is not how you want recruiters to see you.  You want them to know that you spent some time developing your online profile, and that you care about how you present yourself.  You also want them to be able to distinguish you from the other 412 people on LinkedIn with a similar name.

If recruiters are searching online profiles to actively seek out potential candidates, they are much more likely to view a profile if it includes a photo.  No one clicks on a profile that seems incomplete at first glance.

When should you include your photo on your resume or other printed materials?

  • You’ve been on the cover of a major industry-relevant publication.
  • You are an actor, model, or in a similar profession.
  • You’re looking for customers, not an employer.  (Think of realtors, personal trainers, and stylists.)

What should you consider when choosing a photo for your profile?

  • It portrays professionalism.  (That means no visible cocktail glasses, even if it was a company event.)
  • It suits your industry.  If you are an attorney, you probably want to be wearing a suit.  If you are a chef, an action shot of you in the kitchen might be more fitting.
  • It was taken specifically for this purpose.  You don’t want to crop your buddies out of a photo and use what’s left on your profile.
  • It’s not boring.  If there is a cinder block wall behind you, it’s going to look more like a mug shot than a head shot.

As with every part of your job search, there is a fine line between being the best candidate you can be and just being yourself.  Your photo is a great way to inject a little personality into your profile!

Written by Leanne Goplen Zabriskie, Recruiting Knowledge Manager at Aasonn

 

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