Do not, do not, DO NOT include a photo with your résumé!
Just don’t do it.
“But what if I—”
“But what about—?”
“But I like to—”
Unless you are a model or an actor applying for a modeling gig or auditioning for a part, you should never, ever, ever, ever, EV-VER include a headshot with your résumé.
Why? Because it all goes back to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the federal laws against discrimination in hiring. We have laws that make it illegal to not hire someone based on age, sex, race, color, national origin, religion, military status, and physical or mental disabilities. (There are no laws based on sexual orientation though.)
And, unless you receive a written letter that says “we are not hiring you because you’re a 50-year-old woman,” suing someone for discrimination is extremely difficult, if not impossible. Still, that doesn’t stop companies from being deathly afraid of being sued.
They worry someone will say “you didn’t hire me because I’m _____________” and call a lawyer. Even if the candidate was staggeringly underqualified for the position, companies know they’re vulnerable every time someone cries discrimination, even if the claims are completely unfounded.
So, in order to remove as many potentialities as they can, they do not want to see any identifying information on a résumé that could clue someone in to your status in any of these protected groups.
There have been stories where administrative assistants were instructed to use a black marker and cross out any references to church and religious affiliations, race-based groups including fraternities/sororities and advocacy groups, military groups, and even mentions of these groups or status in cover letters. Others have been instructed to throw away résumés if they included too much information to easily disguise it.
In fact, it’s this same worry that’s causing many HR professionals to reexamine their practice of looking up job applicants online or interacting with them on social networks. They’re worried about being able to identify certain aspects of the candidate — age, race, color, religion, disabilities — just based on the photo and basic bio. So while hiring managers are doing it now, don’t be surprised if that practice comes to a screeching halt in the near future.
Given that this is such an important issue to HR professionals, do not include a photo of yourself on anything you’re giving to a hiring manager. First, it’s not an accepted business practice, and you’re not helping yourself by including it.
Second, it shows that you don’t understand the widely-understood hiring laws and practices, and the problems that the hiring managers face. Make it easier on them, make it easier on yourself, and remove all identifying information from your résumé.
And do not, under any circumstances, send in a headshot of yourself.
What’s next, a list of your hobbies and favorite bands?
Erik Deckers is the owner of Professional Blog Service, and the co-author of Branding Yourself: How to Use Social Media to Invent or Reinvent Yourself. His new book, No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide to Social Media Marketing, which he wrote with Jason Falls, is in bookstores and on Amazon now.