One way to make a lasting impression on potential new employers is by including a professional resume photo. A great photo helps employers put a face to your name, and it can affect the first impression significantly.

However, it’s important to choose carefully, as a poor choice can have quite the opposite effect, potentially leading to your resume getting dismissed before your experience and qualifications get the chance to shine.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the best practices, from deciding whether you should add a resume photo or not in the first place to knowing what the right outfit and perfect lighting are.

Let’s dive in.

Key Takeaways

  • Adding a resume photo is recommended when applying in countries such as France, Germany, and Spain, whereas they’re not required in countries such as the US, UK, and Canada.
  • The resume photo should be taken by a professional, or at least with a good quality camera.
  • It’s important to make sure that the photo presents you in a professional and polished manner. That’s why it’s best to avoid distracting backgrounds and colors.
  • The photo should always be clear, well-lit, and high resolution. It’s better to avoid using filters or heavy edits as they can be distracting.

Should You Add a Photo to Your Resume?

The decision to add a photo to your resume can depend on various factors, including cultural norms, location, and the type of job you’re applying for.

While some job seekers believe that adding a photo can help make a positive first impression, others believe that it can lead to bias in the hiring process.

Here’s what you need to consider before deciding whether you should or shouldn’t add a resume photo.

When Not to Add a Photo

In the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom, adding a photo to a resume is not a requirement. That is primarily due to the risk of discrimination.

If you’re applying for any positions in any of these countries, it’s best to leave the photo out of your resume to be sure.

Additionally, the type of job you’re applying for can also influence whether or not you should include a resume photo. If you’re applying for a job in the entertainment industry or modeling, a photo is necessary. However, for other industries, such as teaching and finance, it’s unnecessary.

When to Add a Photo

In some countries, such as Germany, France, and Spain, it’s quite common to add a photo to your resume, regardless of the position you’re applying for, and you’re expected to do so.

Although you’re adding the photo, it is important to remember that the photo should not be the focus of your resume; rather, it should be a small and subtle addition that complements your skills, qualifications, and experience.

Cultural norms and expectations vary between countries, so it’s crucial to research the specific country’s expectations. In some places, such as Japan or South Korea, including a photo may be a common practice for all job applications, regardless of the industry or position.

Where to Add Photo to Your Resume

When you include a photo on your resume, it’s important to place it in an appropriate location and to make sure it is of a suitable size and shape.

Typically, the photo should be placed at the top corner of your resume. This can be either in the top left or top right corner, depending on your personal preference. The size of your resume photo should be small enough to not distract from the other content on your resume.

A square photo is recommended for a digital resume, while a round photo might be more appropriate on a printed resume. However, the shape of the resume photo solely depends on your preference and overall resume design.

The photo size should be proportional to the rest of your resume, with an actual recommended size of 2×2 inches or smaller. Additionally, the photo should be of high quality and professional, and all your facial features need to be clearly visible.

5 Tips For a Professional Resume Photo

If you’ve decided to add a photo to your resume or it’s a listed requirement in the job description, it’s important to make sure that the photo is of high quality and presents a professional image of yourself.

Here are some resume photo tips that will help you enhance your application:


When you choose a resume photo background, it’s best to go for a neutral and simple one. A plain white or light-colored background will keep the focus on you rather than what’s around you.

A simple option can be a white or light-colored wall. If you don’t have a simple background, you can use a photo backdrop or a piece of fabric without patterns instead.

Avoid using any busy or distracting backgrounds that may take away from the professional look you’re trying to achieve.


When it comes to color, it is best to stick to classic and neutral colors such as black, navy, gray, or white. You can add a touch of color with a tie, scarf, or other accessories, as long as it’s not too distracting.

You should always avoid bright or bold colors, as they are usually considered unprofessional. The colors of your outfit should also complement the background and not clash with it.


The outfit you choose for your resume photo should be professional and appropriate for the job you’re applying for. Business attire, such as a suit or dress shirt with a blazer, is generally a safer choice.

Additionally, make sure your outfit is clean, wrinkle-free, and fits well. Avoid overly casual clothing such as t-shirts or clothing with logos or graphics. Revealing items such as low-cut tops are also no-go.

In any case, it’s better to stay safe and dress up rather than down.

Facial Expression

When taking your resume photo, aim for a neutral facial expression that exudes confidence. A neutral expression is always a good option, provided it’s not too serious or stern. This can make you seem unapproachable. Try to also smile naturally.

Look directly at the camera lens, but avoid staring or looking overly intense, as this can be off-putting.

Don’t make any extreme facial expressions or gestures, such as a raised eyebrow or a pouty lip, as they will make you seem unprofessional. The goal is to convey approachability instead.


Good lighting is crucial for a professional-looking resume photo. Aim for natural lighting or a well-lit indoor environment. You can try taking your photo near a window or outside. This ensures a flattering effect that is ideal for headshots.

Try to avoid any harsh or dim lighting that may cast unwanted shadows on your face. This can create a very unflattering image. Instead, use diffused lighting (such as lamplight or sunlight). This can provide a softer and more illuminated look.

If you’re taking the photo yourself, consider using a ring light or similar lighting equipment.

How to Get a Resume Photo

There are several ways to get a professional resume photo:

  • Professional photographer. One option is to have your photo taken by a professional. This can be a great choice if you want a high-quality photo that is tailored to your needs. Look for a photographer that specializes in headshots or portraits.
  • Do it yourself (DIY). Another way is to take your own photo by using a high-quality camera or phone. You can also ask a friend or family member to help you take the photo.
  • Online services. There are also online services that allow you to upload a photo and will then retouch it to give it a polished and resume-appropriate look.
  • Career centers. Some career centers or job agencies offer resume services, which may include taking resume photos as well. Check with your nearest center and ask whether they provide this service.

Resume Photo Don’ts

Here are some things you should avoid when including a photo on your resume:

  • Don’t use a selfie or casual photo. Your resume photo should always be a professional headshot that is specifically taken for this purpose.
  • Don’t add photos with distracting backgrounds or props. Keep the focus on you and avoid anything that could take away from your professional image.
  • Don’t use an outdated photo. It’s always best to avoid using photos that don’t accurately represent your current appearance. Make sure your photo is up to date.
  • Don’t use an overly edited or filtered photo. Although that Instagram filter is making your skin and eyes pop, your resume photo should be natural and professional.
  • Don’t include a photo if it’s not appropriate to do so. As mentioned earlier, in some industries and countries, including a photo on your resume is discouraged. Make sure to do your research on the company beforehand.
  • Avoid photos with other people or pets. Your resume should only include you, so that the job interviewers know who they’re hiring.
  • Don’t add a closeup photo or an overly wide shot. Your photo should be taken from an appropriate distance and framed in a way that highlights your face and upper body. If it’s too wide, it may be difficult to see your facial features. If it’s too close, it can be unflattering.

Resume Photo Examples

Here are a couple of resume photo samples you can follow:

Good examplesresume photo resume photo


These three resume photo examples are great as they are all wearing professional attire with minimal and neutral colors; their faces are clearly visible since the photo is well-lit; and the background is simple.

Bad Examples

As mentioned earlier, it’s best to avoid photos with other people or any unnecessary elements, as this can confuse the employer.

Your resume photo should only include your face and upper body, at most.

Final Thoughts

Adding a photo to your resume can be a great way to showcase your personality and style, but remember to keep it professional and appropriate for the job you’re applying for.

Whether you opt for a classic headshot or a professional snapshot, make sure it’s always industry-appropriate! And always remember, a genuine smile can go a long way toward making a positive and lasting impression. So say cheese and go get that job!