A Picture is worth a 1000 words – or Nothing at all!

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In the last couple of years we have all seen an increase in the number of CV’s that are submitted that include a photograph of the candidate. Why is this? Who suggested it would be a good idea? I suspect that the use of photographs in CVs has increased as a result of people’s use of LinkedIn and Facebook, two sites that already have them in personal profiles, who knows?

There has been much debate and plenty of comments made about the value and use of photos in CVs. Within The Forum for In-house Recruitment Managers there has been a discussion on this very subject and some very valid points raised both sides of the debate. Some people say that depending on the role and the quality and type of photo could help form an opinion around suitability, especially for customer facing roles, but the vast majority (around 90%) are against it because it could be used against a candidate – it shouldn’t be, but it could be.

As a professional recruiter I am one of a team of people who is (or should be) the first person to see a CV as it comes into the company and you wouldn’t believe the quality of some of the photographs that are included. They range from those that look like mug shots of criminals (the vast majority) to ones that look as if they were taken on a night out. Very few are professional “business” photos – and guess what? I try to ignore them all and wouldn’t be able to recall a single face in a CV unless it was blatantly stupid. This is the same for the majority of professional recruiters in other companies as well, certainly the ones that I have spoken with. Some take the sensible step of removing the pictures from CV’s as they arrive before they are passed to hiring managers. Others take the rather harsh position, that a photo on a CV shows a poor lack of judgement and rejects the candidate immediately. Neither practice supports the use of photos on CVs.

Putting myself in the position of a candidate, which I have been on occasion (honestly, I have), I am or would be sensitive to any discrimination against me based on age, race or gender. In that position I am grateful that laws exist so that I don’t have to put such details on a CV anymore. So why on earth would I put a picture on it? It would open me up to the kind of discrimination that I wanted to avoid.

Personally I think the use of photos on CVs is poor practice and a very bad idea and should be discouraged, if not stopped altogether. I could care less how ugly or attractive you are! A photo on a CV adds absolutely no value to the CV or to your chance of being considered for a job. Whilst none of us should judge a book by its cover if I see a photo I automatically think the candidate shows poor judgement, not a good start when applying for a job. Like it or not, it is human nature to form prejudices, some of which are of course harmful and unacceptable and we work hard to keep them out of the decision process around hiring. There are however many managers in hiring positions in all companies who do not share the same professional approach and who might not have the council of professional recruiters to keep them honest. Nobody likes this but it is there, so why as a candidate would you provide a picture that highlights the three main reasons why someone might be discriminated against? Think about it. A picture is not clever; it is not needed, serves no purpose at all and could work against you.

    • private
    • April 11th, 2010

    I think what you’ve written is correct. However, it’s not right to assume that anyone who has put his photo is trying to convince the rectruiter by his photo. For example I have for many times removed my photo from my CV in my country, but most rectruiters ignore my CV !! simply because it is essential to have a photo as part of any CV. (Its for jobs that does not require any contact with customers)
    Therefore now I have my photo in my CV for any job that I apply for, regardless of the location of the job.

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