The great CV debate: to photo, or not to photo

The great CV debate: to photo, or not to photo

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Last week was an exciting week. I launched my first solo venture in career coaching, and threw myself straight into client meetings. It wasn’t long before I was asked the new age question – “should I include a photo in my CV?”.

I love this question.

It creates discussion, and no one seems to agree on the best approach.

Right now, you’ve probably already answered this question in your head. Some of you are thinking – yeah, this is the 21st century. Put the photo in.

Others are probably fully opposed. And I bet there’s a percentage of you who just don’t even want to think about the resume that’s still sitting untouched on your desktop.

Let’s face it, updating your CV is never much fun. And chances are, you’re only updating your CV because:  

·         You lost your job, and that’s not a great feeling

·         You’re sick of your current job, and that’s not a great feeling either

·         You’ve been given a promotion, but you have to go through the rigmarole of HR processes, and that’s a “wasted time” feeling

Assume your dream job has just been advertised. You’re really excited, and you can imagine your name on the business cards already. Will your CV positively support your application? Should you include your photo on your CV?

Here’s the answer: the resume only really has one main purpose in life – to get you an interview. 

If you have a professional photo of yourself, then put it in your CV. A good picture of yourself will increase the chances of your CV being read, which increases the likelihood that you will be asked for an interview.

Note that I use the words “professional” and “good” to describe the photo – do not add a blurry photo, or even worse, one that has been cropped from your last family photo.

So why else should you consider adding a photo? Three good reasons:

1.       We live in a connected world

If your CV reads well, and your potential employer is interested in you, they’ll probably check out your LinkedIn or other social media channels before they offer you an interview. So why not be confident, and include your photo from the start.

By the way – potential employers are not allowed to look up candidates, but channels like LinkedIn that advertise roles are making this rule difficult to follow. 

2.       It may help, rather than hinder

Your picture may just get you to an interview!

Maybe you don’t have the experience necessary for the role, but often a creative, impressive and professional-looking CV can help you stand out from other candidates.

3.       A picture says a thousand words

Still not convinced? Remember last time you were house-hunting on You were probably more likely to look at properties with photos, rather than without. Pictures get views.

Every candidate is different, and so is every role. Consider whether a photo is appropriate for you, and whether it will support your application.

Be mindful that you do not have to add a photo, under Australian law, it is forbidden for a potential employer to ask a candidate about information that could be used to discriminate against them. This includes things such as age, race, marital status, religion, disability or political affiliation.

It’s also worth mentioning that some businesses will remove names, genders, addresses and photos from CV’s so not to create any unconscious biases.

Need more CV advice? For other tips and tricks, register for my hands-on CV Master Class this Thursday 16 August.