Why a Picture Worth a Thousand Words on Social Media has Negative Value on a Resume

You’ve scoured the internet for resume templates, and the infographic-style ones with photos captivated you.

I’m with you. Eye-catching!

And, if you live in the Middle East (except for Israel), China, certain parts of the EU, Greece, or Argentina, a photo template works great.

However, in the United States and most other countries excluded from the aforementioned list, photos are a no-no.

According to Robert Half, “Whether it’s deliberate or not, a picture on your resume could result in discrimination on the basis of race, age, gender or other factors.”

You may be thinking, “But wait, I know a recruiter is going to look me up on LinkedIn, so why does it matter whether I include a photo on my resume?”

Great question. I was wondering the same thing.

Luckily, I’m a member of Career Thought Leaders, a well-informed group of career coaching professionals, many of whom either work with recruiters or are/were recruiters.

A resounding “NO!” was nearly unanimous when I asked whether US-based job hunters should include photos on their resumes.* Here’s why:

Photos shift focus away from your content.

· Photos on resumes can distract from your skills and achievements while leading to conscious or unconscious bias.

· Photos take up valuable resume “real estate” that could be better occupied by impactful information.

· The perception of “good looks” is highly subjective, so including a photo could backfire.

To promote diversity, equity, and inclusion — and to mitigate legal risks — recruiters follow Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) laws.

· Because a resume is part of the formal application process, EEO laws protect it. Since LinkedIn is social media and available for public viewing, it’s not subject to the same regulations.

· Savvy recruiters and HR Departments may go as far as removing names, locations, companies, and dates before handing resumes to hiring managers to reduce bias. Certainly, a photo would be omitted.

· Companies sometimes have policies against researching candidates online, so it’s not a foregone conclusion that a hiring manager will see your photo whether or not you include it on your resume.

Don’t Include a Photo on a Resume in the United States, Period.

Recruiters walk a fine line between gathering data on potential candidates and promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion while mitigating legal risks.

Through this lens, it’s easy to empathize with why they may avoid resumes with photos like “Succession” fans avoids spoilers.

Unless…

Remember I said the “no” was nearly unanimous?

I did receive feedback from one colleague whose “hot” daughter worked in the furniture business and was immediately hired (without even an interview) after putting a photo of herself in a red dress on a “high-end swingie furniture thing.”

So, there’s that.

Let’s just say in most circumstances, when it comes to photos on resumes, less is more and none is best.

The evidence is pretty clear: a photo on your resume can do more harm than good.

Photos distract from what really matters — the skills and accomplishments that make up your unique professional self. Plus, they may catapult your resume toward the business end of a paper shredder.

Save your stunning headshot for LinkedIn and Instagram, where your followers can appreciate it without HR hiccups.

As for your resume, let your experiences and achievements take center stage, where they belong.

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