Sharmini Wainwright is managing director of Michael Page & Page Personnel Hong Kong. With over 13 years’ experience with PageGroup, she oversees specialist recruitment across finance, financial services, sales & marketing, legal and more.
What's the etiquette for photos in CVs?
I would like to know whether I should include my photo on my CV. I am a female university student in my final year of university in Hong Kong and am applying for graduate positions. Some of my friends include their photos on their CVs, but I've also read that it is unprofessional. Is there a general rule or does it depend on the job you're applying for? Please help.
Sharmini Wainwright - Career Doctor
Posted Tuesday 25th March 2014 08:22:00 PM
This is a great question and has been a point of contention for many years! There is no hard and fast rule that jobseekers adhere to when it comes to the use of a photo on their CV. While there are some that believe a photo will help you and your CV stand out, there is also the school of thought that believes that a photo should not be used to prevent preconceptions from potential employers. The general rule of thumb is that the photo should help present you in a positive light to prospective readers. The sheer ease of availability of technology in today's age has resulted in many more resumes having a photo attached on the front page than previously. Personally, it really depends on the role you are applying for and the impression you are looking to portray on your resume. Physical presentation is very important for certain professions and a photo can assist in conveying your suitability for such a role. Some examples of such professions include front line retail roles, modelling, reception, customer service and therapists within the medical aesthetics field. In addition, roles that require specific physical stature or strength would also see this as relevant e.g. professional sporting roles, personal training, construction etc. For graduate roles, while a photo is generally accepted as a means of making your resume stand out amongst the hundreds of applications, it is by no means is it absolutely necessary or the only way. From my experience, where individuals typically go wrong is the type of photo they select to put on their professional resume. Typically a glamour photo or a social photo is not that appropriate! Instead, opt for a portrait style shot, with business attire and minimal posing and editing. Remember, when they finally meet with you they expect you to somewhat resemble the photo. In today's age with unlimited apps available to 'enhance' your figure, skin tone and face, the risk is that the possibilities can be endless and one might end up with a picture that does not accurately represent themselves. Keep it natural and appropriate to the audience who will be reviewing it. You can make your resume stand out in many other ways however, whether that it be your academic achievements, travel experience, hobbies or internships. For middle to senior level management roles, a photo typically does make the resume look less professional, as the experience someone has gained over their career history should take precedence. Good luck with your graduate search. Take comfort that your ability to secure the best role for you will be more dependent on the content of your resume and your face to face interview rather than the photo!