There is no such thing as a right or wrong CV.  It is subjective, opinions differ by country, sector, and of course by individuals.  Whether you put a photo on your CV is completely up to you, but here are few things to consider.

Your CV acts as your sales and marketing brochure, or website.  Its purpose is to promote and sell you, your ability, and your experience to a potential employer.  Ultimately you must be comfortable and confident that it best represents who you are, as well as what you can do.

Successful sales in any situation are ultimately about gaining the trust of your customers before they commit, and the level of trust required before a decision will usually depend on the value of the investment or purchase being made.   A decision to employ someone full time is a high value decision requiring a high level of trust.  The less you know about something or someone, the less trust you will likely have.  In other words, the less you know or the more that is hidden, the less likely you are to trust that person.  Most people don’t accept LinkedIn invitations from people they don’t know and don’t have a photo on their profile for this reason.

Recently phrases such as “Attitude is everything” and “Hire for attitude, skills can be taught” are often heard, and when recruiting most people genuinely want to know WHO you are, as well as WHAT you are (what you can do).   Having the right skills and knowledge to do a job you are applying for becomes the baseline and in many cases can be taught, and so the challenge then becomes how to communicate who you are through your CV in order to get an interview.  Invariably short-listed candidates have similar qualifications and experience and often the deciding factor can be personality, values, and fit for the team.  The question then shifts from “Can they do the job?” to “How will they do the job?

You will have a greater chance of getting an interview if you can connect with the employer/recruiter through their mind and their heart.  Facts and details about what you studied and where you have worked will tick the mind box.  Your personal story will work on the heart and communicate WHO you are.  This forms part of your personal brand, or how others perceive you.  Good brands tell good stories and good storytelling is an art.  Stories engage people, connect with their hearts and emotions, and make things more memorable.  That is why children love being read bedtime stories and why people love a good book or movie.  How can you weave parts of your story into your CV, dropping hints and insights about WHO you are, what you like, and what you value?

Many CV’s we receive are like black and white product spec sheets that simply have the person’s name, contact details, attributes, and no photo, not too dissimilar to a spec sheet that might fall out of the box of a new TV you have just bought.   Spec sheets are not usually used to sell products or services.  There is usually a glossy brochure or a cool website to do this job, so why has traditional advice around CV’s been to do things this way?

The answer is bias.  To try and remove bias from the decision-making process and choose candidates for interviews based on your skills and experience alone.  How old you are, what nationality you are, what tattoos you have, what hair style you have, your gender, shouldn’t come into it right?   The reality is most people like to think that they are not biased, but conscious and unconscious bias is everywhere and unfortunately everyone has some form of bias to varying degrees… and if that bias is there, it will be there at the time of looking at your CV, at the time someone looks at your LinkedIn profile, and certainly when you turn up for an interview.  Thankfully in this day and age, most people support inclusivity and diverse thinking, and we would certainly hope the various biases that have existed in the past are on their way out.

Whilst we accept bias can be an issue when putting your photo on your CV, we also think there can be many positives as well, and as they say, “a picture paints a thousand words”.

So, whether you should include a photo on your CV or not is completely up to you.  Whatever you feel confident and comfortable with, and what you think gives you the best chance to build trust and get an interview, that is the right choice.

By Jason Hill – Managing Partner, Tourism Talent NZ