Putting a picture of yourself on your CV is surprisingly controversial.
In the US, over 80% of recruiters will not consider your job application if the resume includes a profile photo. (It’s also best to always call it a ‘resume’, not a ‘CV’).
In continental Europe, however, hiring managers prefer to see a photo of you along with your application.
Where does that leave you? Confused?
There’s no need to worry. Here we explain some of the reasons behind this diversity of opinion, and tell you where – and where not – to include a picture in your job application.
- Continental Europe
- United Kingdom
- United States of America
- Middle East & Africa
- Australia & New Zealand
Laws vs. norms
When it comes to including a photo with your job application in a foreign country, there may be subtle differences of culture at play. These constitute norms, and will help you ingratiate yourself with a potential employer by showing you ‘get it’.
On the other hand, there are sometimes laws at work, following legislation passed by governments to regulate the labor market. In this case it’s vital to comply or you won’t be considered for the job at all.
This will of course come down to the particular country you’re applying in, so it’s best to double check locally.
Our guidance below is a good place to start. It’s mostly based on regions, so will of course be subject to legal changes and exceptions. Always do your own research for a given country if you’re unsure.
When it comes to applying for jobs in Europe, it is generally a good idea to include a professional picture in your CV.
In Scandinavia, recruiters will always advise you to attach a picture on the CV. In the rest of northern Europe, and throughout the west and central regions, it is typical and often expected to include a photo.
In southern Europe, there is a little more diversity on the issue. In Spain, for example, if you do not add a photo to your CV, it could be a problem as they are often required.
In Italy, a photo is not a necessity, but if you do decide to attach one then it should be a formal passport photo on a neutral background.
In Greece, there are no strict rules for CVs and a photo is not required (but will tend to be appreciated).
Verdict: don’t include
The exception to the European norm is the UK, where it is not common at all to attach a picture to your CV. Recruiters advise applicants to remove any CV photo and only focus on presenting achievements, skills, and experience relevant to the job.
It always depends on the recruiter and the job role itself. For instance, if you’re applying for a sales position in the UK, recruiters may be very happy to see a picture of a potential candidate.
However, in general, when applying in the UK it is not advisable to include a picture in your CV, unless stated.
Verdict: never include (unless requested)
In the US, it is often considered very strange to have a picture on your resume. In fact, you will often hear that including a photograph with your application can cost you the job interview.
Employers in the US assume that photos give information that should not contribute to the hiring decision - such as appearance, ethnicity, gender, and other categories protected by labor laws. As a result, they tend to avoid resumes that have a picture of the applicant attached to it.
If you decide to include one, it implies that you don’t understand the hiring norms. Therefore, we advise you to stay on the safe side and only ever include a profile picture if specifically requested by a potential employer.
Verdict: include (except in South Africa)
In the Middle East it is probably fine to always include a picture. A CV photo is preferred in the UAE, and there are many expat workers in Dubai especially who have attested to this.
Since there are no strict anti-discrimination laws in employment in the region, a picture is often appreciated.
Africa is a large and diverse continent, so it’s always worth doing specific research for the particular region you are applying in. But broadly speaking it is advisable to include a profile photo with your application.
It is not a good idea in South Africa, however, where employers prefer for your achievements, experience, and skills to speak for themselves. Photographs could potentially lead to discrimination so are firmly discouraged.
The regions of east, southeast, and central Asia cover many different countries and cultures, but by and large employers from these areas will not have a problem with you including a photo with your application.
Most east Asian cultures especially will prefer to see a professional looking photo in a CV. They want to relate to you when assessing your experience and achievements.
Of course, check locally for any norms or laws which may contradict this.
Verdict: it’s optional
In Australia and New Zealand, it is not required to include a picture in your resume, and would not be considered common. It will be stated if you are required to include a photo of yourself in your application.
If you do include one, make sure that it is in line with the position you apply for. For example, you should be dressed more officially for management positions (including a jacket).
If you are in the creative industry, you should consider a more artistic style.
It is interesting to note that if you are applying for a technical position, you should consider a picture with a shirt and tie (no jacket) or modest clothing, so it looks like you are ready to start working.
No matter what position you apply for, a CV picture should always be clear, and you should make sure that you are smiling.