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We’re often asked about putting a professional profile photo on a CV – is it encouraged, or is it even allowed?
For a few specific professions, some job applicants think they’re required to include one.
The confusion exists because the practice of putting a picture on a CV varies by country. Below, we run through some of the countries that accept profile photos on CVs and some that don’t.
We’ll also explain the advantages and disadvantages of doing it, as well as where to put a photo on a CV if you decide to include one, plus other best practices.
So – should you put a photo on your CV?
In short, don’t include a photo on your CV in the UK.
Even though in the past it was standard practice to include a profile picture on your CV, that is no longer the case.
It’s illegal for UK employers to discriminate against job candidates based on criteria such as age, disability, gender, race and so on.
Employers’ recruitment processes must be fair, free from unconscious bias and centred around equality.
A photo on your CV will undermine that.
Not only that, but employers will expect you to know this – so they’ll likely think your CV is unprofessional if you include a picture of yourself.
For similar reasons, you shouldn’t include your date of birth on a CV either.
According to Ciphr, 11% of UK adults believe their age was a factor when they were overlooked for a job.
Read our in-depth guide to CV dos and don’ts for more information about what you should and shouldn’t include in your CV.
Other countries where you shouldn’t include a profile photo are the US, Canada and Ireland.
There are others too though – depending on which country you’re applying for a job in, we recommend that you search on Google first to find out more about the rules there.
In contrast, some countries require candidates to include a profile picture on a CV, including several European and Asian countries.
Again, if you’re writing a CV for a job in another country, check the recruitment criteria first, in case your application will be rejected without a photo.
If there’s no clear consensus one way or the other – i.e. it’s optional – then you need to weigh up the pros and cons of including a picture.
Let’s look at these now.
Even if it’s acceptable to include a picture on your CV, there are two potential disadvantages to this approach.
Firstly, if the employer is using Applicant Tracking System (ATS) software – which many companies have – then there’s a risk it won’t scan anything that’s not text. This means that your CV could be rejected automatically.
If you want to learn more about how this software works, we’ve previously written about what ATS software is and what it means for your CV.
If they’re looking at your picture, they’ll spend less time reading your personal statement or finding out about your skills and career
However, it’s a judgement call and there are also some potential advantages to including a picture on your CV in countries where that’s permitted but not essential.
For example, it might be common practice in some cultures or industries. It’s also a chance to present a warm, presentable first impression.
If you decide to put a profile photo on your CV, where exactly should it go?
To check, look for example CVs for the country you’re applying to work in. For example, in France, the picture usually goes in the top corner.
Some jobs require candidates to provide headshots – for example, acting and modelling.
However, you would keep this separate from your CV itself – many actors staple a photo to the back of theirs.
Either way, make sure the picture is a good one!
When choosing a photo, make sure you:
Overall, the photo should be professional and one that you feel will give the best possible first impression.
Bear in mind too that if you’re including your LinkedIn profile URL on your CV, then hiring managers will see your picture there as well.
If you don’t have a LinkedIn profile, read our blog on why having a LinkedIn profile is important.
To recap, don’t include a photo on your CV in the UK.
Due to anti-discrimation laws, it’s in your best interests, as well as your potential employer’s, that you don’t put a photo on your CV.
For other countries, look online to see whether photos are required, encouraged or banned.
If you are including a picture on your CV, make sure you put it in the right place and that the photo itself follows best practices.And if you need any help writing your CV – with or without a photo – check out PurpleCV’s professional CV writing service.