Including Your Photo on a Resume: Pros, Cons and Tips

Updated 5 February 2023

When transitioning into another job or career, making an excellent first impression on recruiters can be essential in gaining opportunities. Adding a photo to your resume may achieve this goal by giving a potential employer an idea of who you are. Learning when it's appropriate to include an image can help you consider alternative options for making an impact on a resume. In this article, we define a photo on a resume, discuss when to use it, list steps on how to include one and outline the pros and cons of using it with additional tips and FAQs.

What's a photo on a resume?

A photo on a resume is an image of yourself in passport size that you can include either on the first page of the document or on a cover letter. The image can provide an overview of your appearance, allowing a recruiter to connect your photo to your qualifications, increasing engagement in reviewing the resume. You can create a professional-looking profile image by yourself or have an expert take one for you. The background can be neutral with blue, grey or black colours. Dressing professionally in business attire can also be essential in displaying professionalism.

Related: A Guide to Your Profile on a Resume (With Examples)

When to include a photo on your resume

There are a few instances where it can be essential to include a photo of yourself on a resume, such as a career that relies on the appearance of an individual. Some examples of such occupations include modelling and acting. These professions may insist on an individual providing an image portfolio or a video of them performing particular activities. Rules can be present that govern this process, such as minimal use of makeup or an image of you in specific attire. A photo can also be important on resumes that link to additional social media platforms or websites.

Applying for a job through a website or any other platform may require including a photo as part of the recruitment process. An additional instance of including an image is when the recruiters for specific job markets ask prospective candidates for an image as a requirement. In such cases, it may be essential to research a job description to make sure you follow the recruiter's requirements.

Related: Should You Include a Resume Photo? A Complete Guide

How to include a photo on a resume

Here are steps you can follow to include your photo on a resume:

1. Research the resume requirements for the job

Various industries may have different requirements for a resume during the hiring process, so it can be essential to know if a photo is part of the required components. If including an image is a part of the hiring process, you can research how to do it. Use samples to learn more about where to place the image and determine which kinds of photos are professional.

2. Acquire a photo

Finding the right photo can be an essential step regarding the position you're applying for in your resume. You can take the picture yourself or engage the services of a professional. You may require a photo with excellent lighting, clean background and one that complements the career you want. The picture can be a high-resolution image that shows you from the shoulders up.

3. Determine the size of the photo

The resume format can be important in determining the space available for the picture and you can choose a layout that accommodates the image efficiently. The content is more important, making the photo an additional resume element. A passport-size photo can be appropriate for this setting.

4. Establish the position of the photo

Deciding on the photo's location on the resume can help with the recruiter's first impressions of you. Placing the picture at the top right of the page can ensure the recruiter notices the image first before they do an overview of the rest of the resume. This first impression can increase engagement and interest in the resume.

Related: 6 Universal Rules for Writing Your Resume

Pros of including a resume photo

Here are some advantages of including your picture on a resume:

Builds a brand

Candidates in creative industries, such as performing arts can have an extensive display of personality expression when formatting their resumes. A typical resume for these industries may require a photo that portrays unique features that are essential in some campaigns. This process can make recruiting candidates that fit various professions easier.

Improves the first impressions

A first impression is an initial perspective that one can have towards a specific matter or person. Including a photo on your well-crafted resume can increase a potential employer's positive perception of you. The picture can help connect a face to your qualifications.

Cons of including a resume photo

Here are some disadvantages:


Bias is the tendency to choose something or someone from another. A photo can encourage a potential employer to pass on recruiting because of preferences or features that one lacks. Sometimes, this can be unintentional where employers have had prior issues with candidates of specific characteristics.

Related: The Halo Effect: Definition and Examples in the Workplace

Decrease in space

Space in this context refers to the amount of space available for the content you include on your resume. Adding a photo can reduce the overall space you have to fit all the information in the document. Using formats with all the essential components in a simplistic way can help solve this matter.

Use of screening software

Some industries can use software, such as applicant tracking bots to scan and approve resumes. This software may lack the ability to detect a resume efficiently, which can pass on by default. Such instances are a significant reason to research the industry to ensure including a photo is valid.

Related: 10 Best Skills to Include on a Resume

Tips for including a photo

Here are valuable tips to help you as you consider and prepare to include a photo on your resume:

  • Hire a professional photographer. Using an expert can help you obtain professional photos for your resume. The expert can control specific features such as the background and lighting.

  • Dress appropriately. A resume photo is part of a career portfolio, which can require a professional look by how you dress. A business fit, such as a suit or a blouse can be essential in attaining this look.

  • Use minimal makeup with a simple hairdo. For business settings, minimal makeup can help you appear more professional by highlighting natural features. A simple hairstyle can allow attention to remain on the qualities of the face.

  • Select a high-resolution image. The quality of the image can help increase the overall impression of the resume. A high-resolution image can also ensure that the image remains clear when recruiters print the picture from an online platform.

  • Smile. A photo that displays a genuine smile can leave a good impression on the individuals who review the resume. A smile can help you appear enthusiastic about the role.

  • Use an appropriate background. A plain or neutral background can help to keep the attention on your image. You can include a backdrop with some projects you are currently working on for creative roles.

  • Use current images. Taking a recent photo for your headshot can be essential when applying for a new job. This can allow recruiters to see a more accurate representation of you.

Related: 139 Action Verbs to Make Your Resume Stand Out

Frequently asked questions on including a resume photo

Here are common questions with answers on including photos on resumes:

1. Are there any available applications or software for building resumes that include photos?

Yes, they're available. You can research the available formats and decide which suits you best. Acquiring suitable software can help you determine a layout that includes a photo in your preferred location.

2. Does using a software template simplify resume writing?

Certain software can simplify your work as they provide a template, ensuring consistency as you draft the resume and including all the essential components. It can also help you determine the quality of both your summary and the photo you want to include. It can suggest otherwise if required.

3. Is it okay to use a resume builder?

Yes. Using a software to build your resume can also help you save time as you gain high-quality work. Writing your resume in this manner can also produce professional resumes that may increase your chances of getting hired when applying for job opportunities.

Related: A Comprehensive Guide to Creating a Professional Resume


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