Should I Add a Photo to My Resume?

This is a question I have often asked myself while in the market for a new career. Whether you’re in a creative line of work, or you provide professional services, perhaps you have asked yourself the same thing – should I add a photo to my resume?

A headshot is one of the primary components for a LinkedIn profile, a platform widely used for professional networking and to find employment. So why not add a photo to your resume? The answer varies among human resources experts, but I believe a nice, professional image can enhance your resume, giving it that extra, memorable edge against other applicants.

Disadvantages to Adding a Photo to Your Resume

Let’s begin with potential disadvantages of adding a photo to your resume., an online career management service, says that some HR departments have been known to discard resumes with photos. This is to avoid accusations of discrimination based on an applicant’s appearance. The group also mentions that a photo might prevent a resume from passing through an applicant tracking system (ATS), software that scans and parses resumes. They call this “choking up” the ATS. For larger corporations that utilize ATS, this explains why resumes with photos or other images could experience rejection.

Advantages to Adding a Photo to your Resume

For designers and most professionals in creative fields, a resume has become the “first impression” – a way to exhibit their knowledge of design and creative flair. While helping to select a part-time web designer at one of my jobs, I became tempted to discard resumes that used plain or boring text layouts. I can say with confidence that our favorite candidates were indeed the ones who submitted nicely designed resumes, many of which included charts, graphics and a pop of color.

While the resume of an insurance agent may not require the creative flair of someone applying to a web designer position, I believe both applicants can stand to benefit from the addition of a photo. Adding that human element to your resume, whether it is a photo of yourself or a creative re-design of the text, is sure to set you apart from the competition.

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In a study covering resume trends in 2016, even highlights that pictures always win! Extensive research has been done based on neuroscience, showing that photos on social media are shared 75 percent more than articles, links or plain text. Imagine yourself as an employer or HR manager sorting through a stack of resumes, all which looked the same on the surface. Which would catch your eye immediately?

I recommend making several versions of your resume, tweaking its content based on the job you are applying for. For example, a simple text resume might be more appropriate for larger corporations, those that may use an ATS system. Similarly, a well-designed resume with a bit of character would make more sense for smaller firms, or agencies that are looking for creative individuals. Lastly, don’t be afraid to contact a company’s hiring department and ask what their preferred resume format is.

How to Choose a Photo for Your Resume

So you’ve made up your mind; you want to add a photo to your resume. What kind of photo should you use?

  1. DO NOT use a photo of yourself floating the river with a beer in hand.
  2. DO NOT use a selfie under any circumstances (even if you’re a certified selfie expert).
  3. Use a photo where you’re smiling! Although I love edgy portraits where the subject has a mysterious expression, a resume may not be the best place to feature this type of shot. You want to be perceived as friendly, approachable and as a team player.
  4. Dress to impress for your photo, but don’t over or under do it. Use your best judgement based on the position you’re applying for.
  5. Last but not least, it’s okay to be creative. Professional photos don’t need to take place against a white or plain background – leave that for your passport!

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Not only will a professional photo strengthen your personal brand and enhance your first impression to employers, it will add a boost of confidence to your application process. I am committed to helping you look natural and poised, while allowing your personality to shine through each shot. I also provide touchups to every photo to ensure the focus is on a flawless you!

Below are two examples of resume templates with photos of my clients, Holly, a Public Relations expert and Lisa, a Marketing Leader. Both women needed professional headshots for their LinkedIn profiles and I think they came out amazing!

Our 30 minute portrait session is perfect for anyone looking to add a professional headshot to their resume, LinkedIn profile, business card or personal website! Call me at 210.951.0528 or email me if you have any questions on how I can help you achieve the perfect professional portrait.Examples of resumes with photos