Monday, November 24, 2014

Resume Photo Pros & Cons

Opinions are mixed about whether or not having a photo on your resume or CV is helpful to your job search efforts. It depends on who is asked. Those who come from a human resource perspective will tell you yes. I do not think it is a good idea and, to be clear, I suggest it can actually be counterproductive to your efforts.
Human Resources, those usually the first to receive and process your resume, will always prefer you attach a photo as part of your resume. But know too their job is not to look for reasons to count you in, but rather to look for reasons to disqualify you. Yeah, okay blah, blah, blah, of course they’ll say they evaluate you according to your qualifications but that’s garbage. Hiring managers are qualified to judge your qualifications, not HR; they are just checking your resume against a very short list of items with which to compare and check off. Unless you are there in person, they are evaluating a document, which represents you, and what they have is what you’ve provided them. Make no mistake about it, in the current digital age we interact increasingly less and less, one-on-one. I say it often, human resources is less human than ever and they don’t want to meet you, nor do they want to speak with you until such time as they decide – if you, or more appropriately your resume, get that far.
Your professional resume is meant to list your professional qualifications, accomplishments and provide a chronology of your work history. Adding a photo is a distraction and, more often than you think, it will be used to judge you rightly or wrongly. But one thing’s for sure, it is not a reflection of your skills or ability so why use it? I suppose those who consider themselves to be among the pretty people, the Barbie and Ken dolls among us, are quick to add their image though even for them a photo can have the opposite effect than they intend.  
Additionally, the kind of photo you choose to use can also influence your fate. Ask any HR person and they’ll tell you they like a photo because it communicates something about that person – that very statement exemplifies you are being judged by your appearance rather than your qualifications. I find resume photos to be entertaining and, I promise you, they become fodder for fun and ridicule among human resources and hiring managers. “What were they thinking” is one of my common responses. What does your photo say about you?
There is their chin resting on their hand; suggesting thoughtfulness and a contemplative personality, perhaps even saying, “I’m relaxed, friendly and approachable”. Or the angular look-over-the-shoulder poses reminiscent of a high school yearbook photo. Or the personal photo from vacation or a company party and maybe even having cropped out whomever was also in the photograph. Are you looking for a job or a date, because sometimes I think a lot of people use the same photos. Some of the funniest I’ve seen are those of real estate agents in the U.S., who use Glamour Shots, the kind that were popular in the late 1990s and in the last decade. Overly-posed photos complete with big hair, too much make-up and maybe even a feather boa. I look at those and think of an over-the-hill cheerleader or prom queen striving to maintain relevance, or perhaps a past their prime stripper making a career change. Have I made my point?
Too often perception is reality and varies widely from one person to another. It is quite possible ten different people will perceive your photo ten different ways and your photo on a CV can help but almost never does. So keep it simple and stick with the facts, your resume is and should be about you and not what you look like, which, by the way, has very little to do with the job you seek. Unless you are applying for a job to read the evening news or provide the weather forecast on television, where’s the added value?
However, if you still choose to have your photograph on your resume or CV, then allow me to make a couple suggestions. Selfies are just plain silly, juvenile and suggest you’re not serious about your career efforts. Photos from your trip to Paris aren’t going to impress anyone nor will the photo you like so much in that great outfit you wore to last year’s party. Ensure any photo you choose is relatively up-to-date as it’s meant to represent you recently, not you 5 or more years ago. Better yet, make it easy and just spend a little bit to get a professional photo taken. It doesn’t cost much and if you get a few extras for Mother or Father’s Day gifts,  voila, now it’s a cost-effective exercise. 
Your attire should be professional, period. Translate the word professional to fit within your career niche. Or, put in the most simple of terms, if you wouldn’t wear it to an interview, then don’t wear it in the photo on your resume, duh! Or better yet, don’t include a photo at all.

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