You have carefully crafted the perfect CV and you wonder, should I put a photo on my CV?
A photo seems like it would add visual interest and they can be found on many CV templates. However, the simple answer is no, you should not put a photo on your CV (with a couple of exceptions).
Why not put a photo on a CV?
We live in a highly visual age, where photos are widespread and we are regularly exposed to images of people. With this in mind, you took a great headshot. You are smiling, looking confident and you are wearing your sharpest professional attire. You have seen photos on CVs online and it seems like an obvious choice to include one.
As with all aspects of preparing your application documents, it’s vital to think about the reader (i.e., the employer or recruiter). We need to consider how they will interpret your photo and the specific benefit to securing the job.
The simple fact is that recruiters, HR personnel and hiring managers are all human. Despite their very best intentions and awareness of such issues, including a photo can result in unconscious bias on the part of the reader.
This refers to the unconscious or automated process of making decisions, where our brains make rapid judgements influenced by preconceptions associated with factors such as social background, culture, or personal experience.1
Consider a newspaper or other text-rich document, with one photo on the page. Particularly if it is a person, your eye will be immediately drawn to the image. Before the employer has read a word of your CV, your photo may have unintentionally coloured their judgement. This can be the case regardless of your personal appearance, characteristics, or how good the photo is. Instead, your CV should only focus on the skills, qualifications and expertise relevant to the job.
When should you include a photo on a CV?
There are a couple of exceptions to the above. You should put a photo on your CV or application when the selection process specifically requests you to do so. This is the case with a limited number of professions where personal appearance is a facet of the role. The other exception is where you are applying for positions outside of Ireland, where there may be a convention of including a photo on your CV. Check with local recruiters if in doubt.
If you are required to put a photo on your CV, follow these key tips:
A common misconception among those on the hunt for a new job is that recruiters and employers are not hiring in November and December and it is best to leave the job search until the New Year. While there is no denying that things do shut down Christmas week itself, the run up to Christmas can in fact be a very busy period for jobs.
Companies are planning for the year ahead and many will wish to have someone new lined up for a January start date. With a common notice period of one month, this means getting the recruitment process completed pre-Christmas.
With a lot of candidates switched off, there is a big advantage for candidates who are still active and alert to opportunities. Employers are often in good spirits, more available, and reflecting on their business needs as the year comes to an end. Christmas is an ideal opportunity to be proactive, make new connections or reignite old ones that could be useful for your job search.
Imagine giving a pitch to a business or a presentation to a class without preparing any material. Most of us would find ourselves struggling for ideas and find it difficult to give a structured presentation in a coherent and focused manner. The same principle applies to job interviews. Being prepared and knowing how you will answer a question is vitally important.
One of the best things you can do before an interview is to practise answering interview questions out loud. While it may seem strange at first, it will help you formulate your answers and think of examples. It will also help you feel more confident and relaxed going into your interview. While it is impossible to predict exactly what you will be asked, most interviewers commonly ask at least some of the following questions.
Sample interview questions: