Face Facts: The Truth about a Photo on Your CV

CVs

Faces are everywhere.

Selfies. Facebook. Facial recognition.

It's no surprise that a common question I'm asked is 'Should I put a photo on my CV?'

Whilst faces are used on LinkedIn, there are other factors to think about for a CV.

It's time to uncover the truth about cultural differences, discrimination issues and CV templates before you put a photo on your CV.

It's Different in This Country

Firstly, the right answer does differ between countries.

However, it's very much love it or hate it.

So, location should be the overriding decision on whether to use a photo. Be aware of what's appropriate for the country that you're in or the differences for the country you're hoping to work in.

In English-speaking countries, it's almost always a bad idea to include a photo on your CV.

The culture in the UK and US is completely against photos on CVs and Resumes. Unless you're planning to appear on The Apprentice you should definitely leave your photo out of your CV.

In mainland Europe (particularly France and Germany) and the Far East (notably China and Japan), there is an expectation that CVs contain the applicants' photo. If you're job-hunting in these countries the rest of this post won't apply - but you're still very welcome to read it.

I Want to Work in a Creative Profession

With the variety of careers available, is it different for particular professions?

Well, the only real exceptions are those where your face does matter to the job you're applying for.

Acting and modelling are the obvious ones.

I've done a quite calculation though and that only accounts for 0.07% of the population (in the UK).

For the rest of us mortals, we should stick to the common practice of leaving our photos off the CV.

Employers will want to hire you because of what you can do for them, not because of what you look like.

What's the Worst That Can Happen If I Include My Photo?

You don't get an interview.

The number one aim of your CV is to get you into the interview room.

However, a CV with a photo on it could jeopardise a candidate's chances. It will stand out, but for the wrong reasons.

In the UK and US, there are clear laws against discrimination.

As a result, regardless of whether the job hunter wants to include a photo their CV or not, recruiters want to avoid CVs with photos like the plague.

A recruiter does not want to face a discrimination claim for short-listing one candidate and not another.

Outside of the law, there's also unconscious bias.

According to Acas "Unconscious bias occurs when people favour others who look like them and/or share their values."

Whilst it's impossible to completely eliminate unconscious bias from a recruitment process, most employers take steps to reduce it in the short-listing process.

That's why they don't want to receive CVs with photos on them.

But, I've Found a Great CV Template with a Photo

I admit it.

I've oohed and aahed over beautiful designs of CV templates. The internet is full of them.

Many of them include a photo or space for a photo as standard as part of their lovely artistic layouts.

But, are they practical?

The key point to remember is that space is at a premium on a CV. Or, in a Resume, it's expensive real estate.

There's always a right place for white space on a CV. But, a photo will take up a hefty amount of space that could otherwise sing your praises.

Think about all the great achievements and experience that will be left out if you include a photo.

Focus on using a template that gives you enough space to showcase your accomplishments.

In Summary

Our faces feature everywhere these days. But it's not common practice to include a photo in your CV - except if you're job-hunting in mainland Europe or the Far East.

If you're not planning to be a model or an actor, why should your face matter? Your face says nothing about how capable you are for the job.

When you write your CV you also need to consider employers and recruiters. They are sensitive to discrimination and bias and will want to avoid it during the recruitment process.

Finally, be practical. Even a small photo takes up valuable space on a CV.

Have you ever put a photo on your CV? Share your experience in the comments below.

Photo Credit: Bill Jones, Jr. on Unsplash.

About Rob Beadle

Rob Beadle is a copywriter for professionals. He takes away the stress of writing your copy for the web, email and print.

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