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Should You Include a Photo on Your Resume? Consider Where You’re Applying First.

This week I’m helping someone with their resume. When working on a resume the question of what to include always arises. How much experience should I include? What schooling do I list? Should I talk about my interests? There are so many questions. But one that used to surprise me is should I include a picture of myself?

Including a picture on your CV is not commonplace in North America; however, many countries require that you do include a picture. I discovered just how common it is outside of North America during my Master of Global Business program where the majority of students were international. Our career advisors were telling us not to include pictures on our CV but the truth is it depends on where in the world you’re applying for a position.

When applying for a position you have to be aware of recruitment laws and societal norms. Recruitment laws being legislation passed by the government whereas norms are the informal accepted standards about what is considered normal or commonplace. Both are important during the hiring process.

Here’s some information on whether you should include a picture on your CV based on different geographic regions:

CV picture in the United States and Canada

In these markets its not common to have a picture on your CV. In fact, its discouraged. Recruiters will be the first to tell you that a picture on your CV can actually cost you a job interview. In the US and Canada photos can provide information that should not be included in the hiring decision, such as race, gender, and other categories protected by labor laws. If you’re not familiar with hiring laws and do include a picture it demonstrates that you don’t understand these hiring laws which doesn’t reflect well on you. Just to be safe, if you’re applying for a position in the US or Canada do NOT include a picture on your resume.

CV picture in Europe

To my surprise at the time, it’s actually common to include your picture on your CV in Europe. In Nordic countries, recruiters will always advise you to include a picture on your resume. Germany, Belgium, Austria, Switzerland and The Netherlands aren’t any different. I remember reviewing my friends resume in The Netherlands and it was so much more personal than what I’m used to seeing in Canada. Their resumes feature a professional photo and a section dedicated to their interests. These professional photos are generally included in the top right corner of the CV.

In Southern Europe, its also common to include a professional picture on your CV. In Spain, if you don’t include a picture on the resume, it’s possible that one will be required. In Italy, a photo might not be required but if it is it should be a professional photo with a neutral background and expression. I’m not very familiar with Greece’s CV rules; however, from what I’ve read there are no strict rules. A picture may not be required but will be appreciated.

CV picture in the UK

I excluded the UK from the rest of Europe, because they follow different CV rules. In fact, their rules are more of a hybrid between North America and Europe. In the UK, its advised to exclude a CV picture and instead to focus on presenting achievements and experiences relevant to he job. However, this depends. If you’re applying for a sales position, a picture may help your chances since an individual’s presentation has more influence on the job role. But just to be safe, when applying for positions in the UK, exclude a CV picture until advised otherwise by a hiring manager during the application process.

CV picture in Asia

I’ve been lucky enough to have an inside look at the hiring process in the Asian market for over a decade now. My Mom manages a team of employees across a few countries. In Asia, it was always interesting for me to see resumes that include a picture and their past salary as well as their expected salary for this position. To be honest, that blew me away. It’s such a different process than in North America. Most Asian cultures prefer to see a professional looking photo on a CV, as this allows them to relate to you while assessing your experience and achievements. Therefore, it’s recommended to include a photo on your CV. Note: resumes in Japan, called rirekisho, follow a very specific format so be sure to look for a template online.

CV picture in South America and Mexico

I studied in South America for a few months and in reviewing the resumes of a few my friends, I discovered how common it was to include a photo. In South America resumes should include a picture. It’s also expected that you include other personal information such as your full address and birthdate. Including your gender, nationality and language skills (written or spoken) is also recommended. It’s much different that what I’ve come to expect from the North American market. In Mexico, picture on resumes are common though not required. You don’t need to include a picture on your CV initially but should be prepared to send one if prompted.

CV picture in Australia

In Australia, it’s not required that you include a picture on your resume; however, if you do include one it won’t negatively impact the hiring process. If you do include a photo, make sure it’s in-line with the position you’re applying for. If you’re applying for a managerial position, sales position, or a position in the creative industry, dress appropriately. For example, if you’re applying for a technical expert position, you should consider a picture with a shirt and tie (no jacket) or modest clothing, so it looks like you are ready to start working.

CV picture in Africa

I haven’t been able to find a lot of information regarding resumes in Africa; however, there is a lot of information about what to include on resumes in South Africa. Specifically, that you should not include personal information unless otherwise informed. Therefore, do not include a picture, your age, or your gender on your resume.

CV picture in the Middle East

Research shows that resumes in the middle east request a lot of personal information. For example, pictures are preferred in Dubai since there are no strict anti-discrimination laws in employment. Employers find that the picture tells them many things they may want to know about the potential employee. Applications in the Middle East can be up to three pages and requires information such as your age, gender, marital status, and your nationality. I’ll do another post about what to information to include on your resume later (so check back in), but for now, if applying to a position in the Middle East do include a picture.

To summarize, be sure to do your research on labor laws and societal norms when applying to a country outside of your own. Chances are they will have different norms and expectations when it comes to your resume. Don’t take yourself out of the running as a candidate because you didn’t do the proper research.

Has anyone ever had an experience of their own about including pictures on their resume?

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1 Comment

Awesome article-very informative and exactly what I need to know for applying for jobs and internships abroad. Thank you!

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