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What’s the big deal in attaching a CV photo? 

When it comes hiring and recruitment and making a positive impression, candidates are often faced with the challenge of creating the perfect curriculum vitae (CV) or resume that conforms with local norms. How CV formats actually are layed out varies from country to country. For instance, a headshot with your CV is prohibited in the United States, but it still may be required in parts of Europe. If you want to land a job, one point of debate is the CV photo. Some employers prefer to see a simple headshot of a candidate.  But is it a relevant metric when searching for talent?

There are pros and cons for adding your photo:

-It adheres to certain CV requirements (shows you pay attention)

Hiring and recruitment practices

You want to make a good impression. If the employer states they prefer CV photos and a candidate doesn’t include one....it looks like they don’t pay attention to detail.


-Hiring managers are humans and thus are drawn to images.

Hiring and recruitment practices

We’re visual creatures. The popularity of social media, like Instagram and Tik Tok, prove that. Hiring managers would be naturally drawn to candidates who use photos or videos for their CVs. If a candidate adds a photo it may prove advantageous in getting an interview invitation. 


-An unprofessional photo gives the wrong impression

Hiring and recruitment practices

A candidate may make a bad impression with the type or quality of photo they use. Professional headshots should be the norm. However some candidates may include a photo that is highly-pixelated, blurry, or decades-old. These photos don’t give an accurate picture of the candidate. Again, it may show to a recruiter or human resources manager that the candidate doesn’t make good judgement calls. 


-Risk discrimination.


Hiring and recruitment practices

We live in a world where people judge people by their appearance, their skin color, ethnicity, gender, and other irrelevant metrics. Often hidden biases are a big culprit in why certain people are chosen for certain jobs than others. A candidate photo may increase the likelihood of a bias-based decision. 

But the debate around the CV photo has changed, largely due to the increasing usage of online job platforms. Xing, LinkedIn, and other platforms host profiles from around the world. Their CV is accessible to nearly anyone who comes across their profile. These platforms require a headshot or profile picture. Users may alter the privacy settings to alter who sees their photo. For instance, the public may not be able to view the photo, but connections or connections of connections may be able to. 

People are increasingly comfortable with sharing photos from their personal lives on platforms like Instagram, Tik Tok, and Facebook. Attaching a professional headshot to a CV doesn’t seem like a big stretch. In fact, college students and other job seekers are coached to “clean up” their online presence by going through and deactivating old accounts, privatizing personal photos, deleting controversial Tweets, etc. 

It’s common practice---though not necessarily formalized---to Google a candidate’s name. Horror stories told by hiring managers and recruiters should be warning to candidates to keep their online presence professional. 


So, is including a photo the right decision?

Hiring and recruitment practices

If you’re applying to a country that doesn’t have clear-cut requirements a few alternatives may exist. If a vacancy states that a photo is not required, but a candidate  thinks a photo strengthens the application, then a CV photo may be an advantage. In the creative industries, this may be a plus.

If a candidate is not comfortable,  another strategy is to not submit a photo, but send links to their LinkedIn or their personal website. Another idea for candidates may be to submit a candidate video, showcasing why you’re a great fit for the job by stating your experience and qualifications. 

For CV photos, remember it must be a businesslike portrait. Photos show only the head and shoulders on a neutral background. Conservative dress is usually encouraged.

The CV photo debate may continue, but there are strategies for candidates and hiring managers to navigate around the comfort and requirement level of employers and employees. 



Leading companies leverage Retorio's AI to support their own talent management teams. Our video-based AI was featured in TechCrunch and Süddeutsche Zeitung .

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Elizabeth T.

Written by Elizabeth T.

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