Why Including a Photo with Your Résumé is a Bad Idea

photo resumes

I am confounded that many career advisors still raise the question about including photos with résumés; it should be a no-brainer for experienced professionals. With nearly three decades of experience evaluating a variety of scientific/engineering, marketing, and communications candidates, I’ve learned alot about human nature. We are visual creatures, and we cannot escape the influence visual appearance plays on first impressions. In fact, many times, positive visual impressions provide a false inner narrative to hiring managers/decision makers about a candidate’s potential for success before the résumé is reviewed. The candidate evaluation is then adjusted to fit the first-impression narrative.

In the above example, how can you NOT look at the photos and in some way or fashion lean toward one candidate vs. the other without even so much as a glance at their CVs? (Yes, CVs for academic, medical and some legal positions; résumés for nearly all others.) Even without photos attached, there is the temptation to run a Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google image search on a candidate’s name before reviewing the résumé. A good policy is to not perform any social media searches on job candidates until they have been interviewed in person to avoid first being swayed by visual appearance. Adhering to such a policy helps ensure you bring on board the most qualified candidates as a first priority, regardless of their appearance (unless you’re interviewing candidates for the next Victoria’s Secret catalog perhaps, where a certain look and body type are a priority).

I’ve written extensively about hiring manager presuppositions and “positive prejudice” in the hiring process (a few previous blog posts too), and it comes in many forms – from comparing the expertise of a candidate with the person who last had the position, to comparing a candidate’s expertise to a preconceived “ideal” candidate. Hiring managers have to be aware of the condition in order to avoid it.

Yes, physical appearance takes priority over qualifications in many European and South American countries. Those preferences are built in to the culture as a way of doing business. When the most qualified candidates take a back seat to the most attractive ones, the business bottom line (and shareholders) suffer.(I’ll take the U.S. economy over Brazil’s or Italy’s any day).

This is not to imply that attractive people can not also be the most qualified for a particular position; the point here is that physical appearance should not be the definitive criteria for candidate selection.

When considering advice from career professionals, not all career professionals are created equal; choose wisely.

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Want to receive a free copy of my Career Strategy Tip Sheets? You get 5 bundled tip sheets (PDF) for career strategy, cover letters, résumés, job interview, and salary negotiation. Just let me know your thoughts on this or any blog post–or let me know of a career topic you’d like me to discuss from the hiring manager’s perspective.

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Former Fortune 500 hiring manager Donn LeVie Jr. is the author of Strategic Career Engagement (September 2015), and the book that reset the rules for successful job and career strategies:  Confessions of a Hiring Manager Rev. 2.0 (June 2012, Winner of the 2012 Global eBook Award and Winner of the 2012 International Book Award for Jobs/Careers). He leads career strategy seminars at conferences, business/trade schools, colleges and universities, and U.S. military veterans organizations.

Does your conference need a keynote speaker or a career strategies seminar for conference attendees? Donn’s 2016-2017 engagement calendar is starting to fill up…contact him directly at donnlevie@austin.rr.com.

Don’t miss out on Donn’s blog posts…follow him now on Twitter @donnlevie and join in the jobs/career conversations at the Strategic Career Engagement LinkedIn discussion group.

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