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  • Your Résumé Should NOT Include A Headshot

    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?


    Professional Blog ServiceBranding 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.


    is the owner of Professional Blog Service, a newspaper humor columnist, and the co-author of Branding Yourself: How to Use Social Media to Invent or Reinvent Yourself, No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide to Social Media Marketing, and The Owned Media Doctrine.

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    Posted in Career Development, Job Search, People, Personal Branding, Social Media
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    10 comments on “Your Résumé Should NOT Include A Headshot
    1. avatar

      Excellent article! You are on the mark. Thanks for writing this and for your recommendation.

    2. avatar
      Zak Nazif says:

      This is a good advice. However, practically it is not possible to “hide” myself (at least my photo) from the world that I am trying to reach by all means of media tools. I know for fact that some employers will check my LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter in order to “know” who am I when applying for a job.

    3. avatar
      Charlie says:

      Thanks for sharing this tip! What about professional history? I’ve worked for a religious non-profit. How would you list that without inviting discrimination?

    4. avatar


      That’s an interesting post. But unless I misunderstood your purpose, it seems that the reason not to put your picture is that it can give information on your age, gender, race, etc…

      Would you give the same advice to someone not living in the US and in the case companies won’t be scared of being sued?

      To put your picture on a resume can help the recruiter put a face on it. It would be easier to remember who is this person after many interviews. This is why I usually put my picture on my resume.

    5. avatar

      Yes, I so totally agree. This is a great tip!

    6. avatar
      Brian says:

      This article shows that its author doesn’t understand hiring laws. If his organization has difficulty handling resumes with photos, or candidates social media profiles, video resumes or ethnic names that are revealing, they are in serious need of professional legal help. Suggesting that candidates should not include a photo shifts the burden to the candidate to help ameliorate potential bad actions of a poorly managed HR department. Your lack of appropriate processes and staff training is not the candidates issue.

    7. avatar
      Cynthia says:

      I agree that you should NOT include a photo with your resume. However, many employers now do a Facebook search to evaluate a candidate so the argument to not include a photo to eliminate discrimination seems mute!

      • avatar
        Jamie Hewitt says:

        “Moot” is the adjective you normally include here.

        Although, I suppose to say “the argument to not include a photo to eliminate discrimination seems (to have no voice, or make no sound)” makes all the sense in the world to me.

    8. avatar
      Heather says:

      Great advice! The most popular response question seems to be, ‘What about social/networking sites?’ Is it safe to say that the author would recommend NOT having a profile picture on networking sites such as Linked In, where employers can easily view any profile?

    9. avatar
      Uncle Phil says:

      I am a bit put off by this post… While I totally understand all of the negative association that goes along with placing a photo onto your resume. But speaking for photographers who may be looking to maybe pursue freelance or even studio position, the photo may not be a bad move. In this case I think it may do more good than bad, despite all of the supporting reasons why you should avoid doing so.

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    1. […] It still amazes us as Recruiters that an occasional candidate will put a picture on their resume – a huge NO! NO! » Your Résumé Should NOT Include A Headshot, read on. […]

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