Should You Include A Head Shot On Your CV?

2018-04-22T16:05:41+00:00 19th February 2016|Categories: General|Tags: , |

Dallas DahmsShould you include a photograph of yourself on your CV or resumé when applying for a job? There are two schools of thought on this question. Some recruiters say absolutely not, while others say yes, you should.

Those who say no to photos on your CV are of the opinion that putting one in there could prejudice your job application for various reasons, including race or age bias. They often cite the example that there is a fear of potential discriminatory accusations against an employer if they choose to interview the candidate who looks like a model instead of the candidate who looks like Uncle Fester from the Addams Family. To avoid this potentially damaging situation they apparently don’t consider candidates who use CV photos at all.

Seems rational, but is it really?

Recent research into the habits of recruiting companies revealed that some 68% of recruiters immediately look up candidate profiles on Facebook if they find their CV more interesting than others. What will they see there? A profile photo. So, they will know what you look like whether you include a photo on your CV or not. What harm does having one on the CV do?

A professional head shot will make a much better impression than the photo you’re probably using as your Facebook profile pic. I see some truly ghastly photos being used as profile photos on Facebook and LinkedIn. You know, the selfies, the duck faces, photos of you slopping beer everywhere on New Year’s Eve, etc. Unless you are incurably unattractive (like Uncle Fester) making use of a CV photo is your first opportunity to make a good impression on your prospective interviewer/employer. If your CV is well laid out a small professional headshot is hardly likely to cause a problem for the recruiter looking at potentially hundreds of CV’s every day. On the contrary they are more likely to remember your CV if there is a visual memory jogger there. People remember faces before they remember names.

In my opinion the argument that including a photo of yourself on your CV harms your chances holds absolutely no water in these times at all. Employers want to see the package before they potentially waste an hour of their time interviewing somebody who seems great on paper but comes across as a sloppy, unprofessional mess in the interview. Your CV photo can help you get past that first gatekeeper because the whole point of a CV is to sell yourself and that should include what you look like. Have you ever tried to sell something on Gumtree or OLX without a photo? Did you get much of a response to your ad? Think about that before rejecting the use of a photo on your CV.

As a job-seeker or professional person you should also be taking complete control of your online profiles by projecting your best image everywhere. Using those selfies and duck face photos on the first thing the world sees when looking you up is an entirely avoidable situation, especially when access to professional photographers is so easy these days. Cough. Hint. Cough.

So, what should your CV photo look like once you have decided to get with the modern age and include it anyway? In a word: professional. You want to look like you are somebody that others want to engage professionally with. Your CV will probably be printed on white paper, or looked at in MS Word with a white page background, so your head shot shouldn’t clash with that too much. I almost always use either white or grey backgrounds, unless I am asked to produce an environmental portrait for a client. Your clothing should be the same as that which you wear to work every day, unless you’re a mechanic or somebody else who gets covered in dirt or grease, in which case something smart casual like a Polo shirt would be fine. Don’t go to the photography studio wearing formal clothing if you never wear it at work.

Lighting for a corporate profile photo needs to be flat. We’re not looking for Chiaroscura or Rembrandt looks here! Typically I get three angles of a person before I wrap a profile photo session, including left, right and direct. Everybody has a good side, so as a photographer my job is to cover all the options and find the one that you’re happiest with.

If your company is looking to get proper profile photos of your staff done, please get in touch. I offer bulk discounts and I do have a portable studio so I can travel to you. Below is a small corporate head shot portfolio, most of which were made on location at company offices. If you’re an individual person looking to get a professional headshot made contact me to book an appointment for a short 10-15 minute session in my studio.


Welcome! I am a commercial photographer operating in the Durban area, specialising in property and product photography.

Contact Info

Phone: +27 71 133 1733