If you ever want to start an argument between professionals within the HR and recruitment industries, just wonder out loud "should I have a photo on my CV?"

For some reason this question really polarises people into the "definitely do" and "definitely don't" categories. Some professionals say you will be judged if you include a photo, while others say it helps identify and remember candidates throughout the ongoing recruitment process.

These days most profiles on LinkedIn include a photo of some description (in fact it's a bit weird if they don't), so why is having a photo on your CV such an issue?

Is a photo relevant?

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For me, the question should instead be "is my personal appearance relevant to this position?" Some roles demand a high level of personal presentation and appearance. For example, customer facing roles such as Sales Representative, Retail Consultant and Receptionist all have a high level of customer interaction, therefore your standard of presentation is part of the recruitment mix.
On the other hand, internally focused roles such as IT or finance don't have a strong customer interaction, and a photo is not so important in this instance.

Is how you present yourself important?

In a recent LinkedIn study, researchers found (using eye-tracking software) that recruiters spent 19 per cent of their time looking at a person's photo, with a photo increasing recruiter engagement significantly. As well as this, LinkedIn's own statistics show that profiles with a photo receive far more interaction: 21 times more profile views and 9 times more connection requests.
Therefore from this fact alone, if you do choose to include a photo in your CV, it must be professional, and represent yourself to your best.

What is a "good" photo for my CV?

If you do include a photo in your CV, how can it be done in a way that adds value to your application, rather than detracts from it?
I like to call the ideal picture the "happy passport" photo. Head and shoulders, smiling (not too much — but not smirking either), good lighting, a professional shirt or blouse and you are all done. In my experience, everyone can present themselves very well doing the above, even if they are not a fashion model.

Do I need to have professional photographs?

Personally I don't think we all need to race out and engage a professional photographer to create the "perfect shot". While a photographer will create a high-quality portrait that will most probably be excellent, you can generally do a good enough a job with your friend and an iPhone.

Why is a CV any different?

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If you are not comfortable putting a photo on your CV, I can certainly understand this. However if this is the case, ask yourself why you are happy to have your photo up in a public forum such as LinkedIn, but not in a (semi-private) document such as your CV?

Contact Tom and the team for a free CV or LinkedIn assessment or to be your personal career coach. Visit www.cv.co.nz or www.CareerCoach.nz to find out more.