There are two ways to stand out in a crowd as far as resumes are concerned.
There’s the good way: This is the resume that is perfectly formatted in a contemporary, sharp, sophisticated design that showcases your skills and experience as an unbeatable candidate who blitzes the competition and begs to be snapped up.
Then there’s the bad way. There are many ways you can fail to impress but today we’ll look at the personal photograph. You see, including your image in your resume can be bad. Very bad.
It’s a painful fact. Very few of us look like George Clooney or Angelina Jolie (much to our collective regret I’m sure). And frankly while I can’t speak for George and Angie, I’d imagine that they’d probably prefer to think of themselves as talented and hard working rather than just good looking.
But I digress. Let’s explore the top three reasons you should remove your photograph from your resume. (Excuse me… please? Drag your eyes away from the pretty folk for a moment!)
1. It’s not important. If you have read my book or my previous articles on resume development, you would know that the most important information you want to convey to your reader is situated on the first page. Your best pitch, your greatest achievements, your most compelling value propositions are placed on that page. Does this then mean that one of the most important things you want to convey to your employer is your face? That’s it? That’s what you’re offering? Don’t you think that sounds just a little ego-trippy?
2. You failed to go the extra mile and do it properly and you’re instead conveying a slapdash, it’s-good-enough attitude. Most candidates don’t have their pictures taken professionally so if you’re not going to do it properly, just don’t do it at all. You know the type of photo I mean. The type where the executive dons his high-quality suit with the suave, sophisticated air of the entitled, a slight smile hovering on his lips indicating the untold secrets he holds for making an indecent profit. The type of photo where his hands rest lightly on the rich wood of the oak desk, cufflinks catching the light and gleaming with self-satisfied approval. Instead, what we usually are faced with is a poorly lit digital pic snapped in the kitchen just before a wedding; a dubious vision in an ill-fitting suit, gardenia in lapel, sweat on brow, and a box of Rice Crispies adorning the laminated countertop behind. A picture like this is not going to create recruiter excitement, that’s for sure. Or maybe you’re using the picture taken last summer where you are lounging by the pool, beer in hand. You sure look relaxed; like you never want to work another day in your life. Wait…is that a good thing to sell?
3. Plain old human prejudice. Your photo on your resume invites people to show prejudice against you. Why give the resume reviewer the ammunition to reject your candidacy before he or she even gets to see and speak to you? What if your eyebrows are too thick and bushy and the perceived “perfect” candidate doesn’t look that way? What if you look like the interviewer’s Uncle Jack or Aunty Mary who made Cinderella’s ugly stepsisters look like good samaritans? As much as we don’t like it and it’s not fair, people do have strong reactions to photos and it is an act of self sabotage (or sheer egocentricity) to invite critical scrutiny of the way you look before you ever get a chance to demonstrate your talents and expect a happy ending. Your candidacy could be rejected due to looks, age, religion, nationality or skin type and you’ll never even know it because you didn’t even get an interview. How is that fair to you?
You want to be selected on the skills and experience you offer and not allow people to objectify you in any way. A resume is not a social networking tool and you’re not building relationships here.
It’s a marketing document that sells the very best you have to offer.
Surely you are selling more than just a pretty face?