On the surface, this question might appear like a no-brainer, but there are more nuances to the situation than you think.
Do you think people should put their image on their CV’s? We’re doing so many headshots for LinkedIn but not sure about CV.
This note doesn’t mention resumes, but let’s include them anyway because many people use the terms interchangeably. And start by addressing the difference between a resume and curriculum vitae (also known as CV.) Curriculum Vitae is Latin for “course of life.” It typically presents a full history of your background, tailored to the audience it’s being sent to. Examples include an academic position or a private sector job opening. By contrast, resume is French for “summary.” It is also tailored for use but it tends to be shorter (because it’s a summary) and more concise.
To offer some perspective on this issue, I reached out to a couple of colleagues who spend a lot of time looking at resumes. Lisa Rangel is president of Chameleon Resumes and a LinkedIn Job Seeker Premium Group Moderator. She’s a certified professional resume writer and her website is listed as one of the Top 100 Career Websites by Forbes.com. Steve Levy is a principal with Recruiting Inferno Consulting, which provides talent acquisition and career planning solutions to organizations. He’s famous for being ERE.net’s first blogger and an influencer in the recruiting space.
While I wouldn’t say it doesn’t happen, in the United States, photos on recruiting documents is not the norm. Rangel and Levy explain why.
[Rangel] In the U.S., a picture is not necessary on a resume. I would even say it’s frowned upon by recruiters. In the U.S., employers are to make employment decisions based on qualifications, and not appearance, race, gender, and other categories protected by labor laws. Photos give information that shouldn’t contribute to a hiring decision. Therefore, resumes in the U.S. don’t need and shouldn’t have pictures. Including a photo on U.S. resumes can send a message that the candidate doesn’t understand hiring protocols. Outside the U.S., many countries/employers require a photo and it is more customary to include a headshot.
[Levy] It seems that every two years or so, another research study re-confirms that bias and resume/CV go together. Research like this has been taking place for decades. Don’t believe me? Google/Bing the phrase ‘resumes and bias’ and enjoy hours of reading: same resume, different gender, race, nationality, name…when asked who do you believe would be more successful on the job, the results fall in line with societal biases. And some ‘experts’ are calling for job seekers to put their image on their resumes? Can you make it any easier to discriminate? This is quite the slippery slope!
That being said, if you do decide to include your headshot on your resume/CV, Rangel explains the advantages and disadvantages of doing so.
[Rangel] If you are in a profession where appearance is important, and your appearance demonstrates the favorable traits needed in that job, having a photo that demonstrates those traits can be an advantage. And for applications outside the U.S., having a photo can make your resume seem more compliant with application requirements and customs.
On the downside, even if your picture demonstrates favorable traits, including a photo for U.S. resumes can put forth an impression that the applicant doesn’t understand hiring protocols, which could be exceptionally damaging for leadership roles, with whom hiring decisions are made. Or that the candidate is trying to gain favorable advantage with traits that are not pertinent to the position. Additionally, some hiring systems simply purge resumes/applications that include photos.
[Tweet “Photos on your resume – everything we need to know.”]
The reader brings up a good point about LinkedIn. With the popularity of social media, it’s relatively easy to find out what people look like. Should candidates treat their resume/CV different from LinkedIn?
[Levy] It’s an interesting question that begs a specific discussion: If having a LinkedIn profile is a de facto standard for job seekers (and I don’t believe that it is – but my view is based on the quality of the platform, not the process of a job search), and the platform strongly suggests that a profile include a ‘professional profile picture,’ then at some time in the future, national employment laws might impact the future presence of these pictures.
The fact of the matter is that much like the gender, race, nationality, name research above, people do look at profile pictures and make assessments of a person’s potential fit and performance – what we call ‘implicit bias’ decisions. Yet if someone is going to be so boneheaded to judge you on your gender, race, nationality, name – or perceived attractiveness – do you really want to work with these Neanderthals? Haters are always gonna hate…
The real issue here is whether or not your LinkedIn profile/resume/CV – with or without a picture – is performance focused in its language (incidentally, the difference between the LinkedIn profile and resume is that the profile is a resume on steroids – you can add a good deal more detail to your profile that you would normally not include on your resume). Organizations hire people to solve problems and what catches my eye are people who can articulate the problems they’ve solved, the before and after metrics, and the impact of their solutions.
At the end of the day, I don’t mind looking at your picture because I’m hiring people not just words on a piece of paper. Add to this, descriptions of your performance, and you’re showing me a whole person.
If a person does decide to include their headshot on their resume/CV, can you share one “must-do” and “definitely don’t do”?
[Rangel] If a person is including their photo, I would follow the guidelines for a LinkedIn profile photo closely. Ensure that it is a professional cropped headshot. Be mindful of the background. Strive for a casually elegant business appearance, unless wearing a suit is paramount for the person’s industry. I would not do photos from a distance or mugshot looking photos.
My thanks to Steve and Lisa for sharing their expertise. If you want to hear more from them, be sure to follow them on Twitter: @LevyRecruits and @LisaRangel. Both of them offer great insights on recruiting, jobs, and careers.
Image courtesy of Sharlyn Lauby taken just off the coast of Mexico.3
Harold Ingmire says
Excellent article – and I would address two issues:
1. Discrimination based on photos – there are a lot more Neanderthals out there than you think and the bias of gender, race, etc. runs right to left, left to right, up and down, etc. Wrong but it exists.
2. Quality of pictures – Linked In is not Facebook where cutesy, sexy, grubby, drunken, etc., photos belong. I see pictures that appear the person is applying for a job for Hooters or Soldier of Fortune. (If that is your plan, of course go for it!) P.S. I think the article meant professional “cropped” not “crippled” headshot.
Again, great article, thanks!
Sharlyn Lauby says
Thanks for the comment! And I fixed the typo.
Steve Levy says
Then there’s my profile pic…
Hi Sharlyn Lauby,
I really like your post!!
It describes all the difference between Resume and CV which normally people mistakes. I also didn’t the difference between Resume and CV. but this post really helped me. A resume is a marketing document designed to sell your skills and strengths rather than just portray a bio of the candidate.The majority of mid- to senior-level positions are filled through networking, so contact absolutely everyone you know in addition to recruiters who are in a position to hire you or share insights. Networking is very very important thing.
Thank you so much for such a thoughtful post!!