Should You Attach a Photo to Your Resume?

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You see it every once in awhile. A job posting will ask for a recent photo to accompany your cover letter, résumé, and salary history. They’ll say they need it for “security reasons.”


The problem with submitting a photo is that it can lend itself to age and race discrimination. While this may be rare, the more common problem with sending a picture of yourself is that recruiters and HR managers are human and will make snap judgments about you based on your appearance. The internal psychology at work here is seemingly endless. While your photo may be perfectly professional, you could remind them of a teacher they hated, their “ex,” or a kid who beat them up once. The bottom line: you’re rolling the dice when you include a photo.


One question many job applicants naturally ask is, can employers legally require a photo as part of a job application? According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, asking for a photograph before you’re offered a job falls under its Prohibited Employment Policies/Practices: “Employers should not ask for a photograph of an applicant. If needed for identification purposes, a photograph may be obtained after an offer of employment is made and accepted.”


But there are other factors at play when you send in a photo—especially for women. The Social Science Research Network recently found that female job applicants who sent in a resume without a photo had far more callbacks than attractive women who included a photo. Their conclusion: female jealousy of attractive women in the workplace. Conversely, handsome guys who included a photo received more callbacks than men who included no photo. A Forbes article noted that the nation’s HR departments are comprised of over 70% women. So GQ guys, try your luck; ladies, it's a toss up.


Most reputable (and legally savvy) employers will not ask for your photograph. They know that if you’re rejected, you could file a discrimination lawsuit (especially if you’re a member of an ethnic minority or older applicant). To avoid the risk of litigation, they’ll simply toss out your résumé without looking at it. And there goes your chance for an interview.


One final thought. Yes, an HR manager or recruiter can easily look up your Facebook or LinkedIn profile and see your photo(s). But only after they’ve read your cover letter and scanned your resume. Attach a photo to your job application and people, being visually inclined, will look at your picture first. It’s human nature. Which means, while they’re reading your cover letter and your resume, the photo will be there, front and center in their minds. Incidentally, do clean up your Facebook and LinkedIn photos to look as professional as possible.


Include a photo with your job application? Not a good idea—unless it’s a headshot for a movie audition.


Image courtesy of stockimages/



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  • Robert W
    Robert W
    Age discrimination is very real.  Not too long ago, when I was actively looking for work I had an interview scheduled with an HR rep who was very interested in my skills and background.  Her interest ended the moment I stepped into her office.  She looked up from her desk, her jaw dropped open at the sight of my hair color (white) and our interview ended before I had said one word.  It is as close as a white person can get to knowing what it is like being a person of color.
  • Patric M
    Patric M
    I agree regarding the age and race discrimination.
  • Elaine T
    Elaine T
    Great information.  I would never send a photo with my resume, for the very reasons you have so expertly stated!
  • Nalin U
    Nalin U
    As far as I understood It has both plus & negative it depends on person to persons some may be benefited by including a photo.
  • Thomas I. Q
    Thomas I. Q
    That's a shame. People using just their snap judgement could cause companies to miss out on a lot of talented employees.
  • Yolanda P
    Yolanda P
    Excellent article! It gives relevance to the debate of using the Linkedin profile option to apply for a job.
  • Joseph D
    Joseph D
    It is illegal to do that. Taco Bell does that all the time, hires only young kids
  • Susan R
    Susan R
    I agree, an agency I signed up with had me a do a 60 sec video. Never received any interest, believe it was because of my race
  • Rebecca F
    Rebecca F
    I agree
  • EdwardSt. T
    EdwardSt. T
    You would have to be INSANE to send in a photo of you self ,better to snd a photo of one of the Three Stooges,Larry, Moe or Curly
  • Trudy W
    Trudy W
    The article mirrors what I already decided about sending a photo with my resume.  I never even considered it for all the above reasons!  Great info!
  • Dina P
    Dina P
    Thank you. I have wondered about this.
  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson
  •  Tom H
    Tom H
    What happens when they ask you your year of high school graduation
  • Walter Kevin V
    Walter Kevin V
    This is so sadly true!!
  • Brian H
    Brian H
    Very interesting!
  • David S
    David S
    Good story.  Job applicants have ALWAYS been advised not to include a photo; in general it is more likely to hurt than to help you.  This story was good because it went into detail about the reasons why, and the exceptions.  Don't worry about anyone looking up your photo somewhere.  Word is, resumes are presorted by computer and no person will ever see your resume until they've decided to interview you anyway.  

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