This is a question I get asked fairly often, or is a question I find I ask myself now and then when vetting a potential candidate for a recruitment role, and the answer is almost always, no. In my time reviewing hundreds, if not thousands of CVs in my career so far, I can tell you one thing, yes having a photo on your CV gets you noticed. But not necessarily for the right reasons.
One time, I opened up a CV for a candidate applying to a Senior Project Manager role, and in his headshot, he was wearing sunglasses. Totally redundant. Another time, upon opening a CV, the entire background of the document was a black and white image of a woman’s left thigh and buttock, adorned with lacy underwear. I kid you not. This candidate was applying for a Medical Receptionist role, and currently worked at a lingerie label, so I am assuming the link to her motive for including such a shot was in there somewhere, but I never got the opportunity to find out, because perhaps unsurprisingly, this candidate wasn’t shortlisted. However well-intentioned this individual may have been (and yes, perhaps an extreme example of what not to do), photos of yourself on your CV fall into the same category as little love heart borders, or size 40 font, or pink text; they just don’t convey a professional image and are plainly not needed.
We may now live in a visual multimedia age, but including a headshot on your CV can come across as unprofessional and a little inexperienced, regardless of whether you look like George Clooney or not. It’s illegal to consider factors like gender, race, sexual orientation, religion, age, national origin or disability in hiring decisions, so recruitment managers often purposefully avoid noticing a photo if its included, and consider it an unwelcome distraction to the rest of your CV. Ideally, you should be focused on highlighting your capabilities and competencies throughout your CV, rather than your appearance.
There are, however, exceptions to all I am saying here. For specific industries, such as the beauty industry, photos on CVs are very welcomed, if not expected. Personal presentation is often a warranted factor in considering a candidates suitability for employment. Additionally, if you are an actor or aspiring model, or applying for some roles in the media, photos on your CVs here are also thumbs up because your appearance amounts to a non-discriminatory essential element of the vacancy. Basically, if the role you are applying to justifiably requires a judgement on your appearance, include a professional photo. If not, don’t bother.
After all, the whole job process is nerve wrecking enough, let alone having to fret over the ‘perfect’ image to include on your CV. There are other ways to make your CV stand out while keeping it professional, so perhaps save your photo for your LinkedIn profile, or in some cases, your significant other!