Advice from an Expert Military CV Writer – 7 Items You Should NEVER Include On Your CV – Tip Series, Day 3 . . . .
Welcome back! This is day three of our seven day Tips Series on information you should ALWAYS leave off (or remove from) your CV.
The subject of today’s tip has created endless discussions on several Linked In groups, primarily because most people consider that the construction of a winning CV is largely a matter of opinion. We fundamentally disagree with this viewpoint. I write CV’s professionally on a daily basis, and therefore base my so-called “opinion” purely and simply on what is actually working (or not) in today’s marketplace.
So, on to today’s tip, which is . . . . . . NEVER include a photograph on your CV.
Again, as stated on day one of the Series, there will sometimes – in a very limited number of circumstances – be exceptions to the rule. Perhaps the word “never” is too exclusive, but for the purposes of this Tips Series I make no apology for it. Unless you are applying for a vacancy in an overseas territory such as, say, Germany (where the inclusion of a photograph is usually required), or for a position which includes a security-vetting process for which you need to produce photo ID, it is not usually necessary (unless of course the application demands it). The only real exception in the UK is when applying for a modelling post, theatrical or television role, when a photograph or portfolio MAY be required.
There are several issues with photographs, some of which are technical and some subjective.
Technical reasons for not including a photograph are mainly connected with duplication and distribution. A poorly-lit photograph, one that is slightly out of focus or “grainy” will inevitably become more and more indistinct as it is photocopied or scanned. Clearly (excuse the pun) this will not help your cause.
The subjective reasons are far more damaging. Photographs elicit varying responses from the viewer, most of which are entirely subconscious but nonetheless reduce the strength and impact of the CV. For example, the candidate’s hair may be considered too long or too short, the wrong colour, or the style considered inconsistent with the reviewer’s ingrained beliefs of the requirements for the position. The candidate may be wearing glasses, the style of which the reader doesn’t like. A tie (males) may not appeal, or a necklace (females, but . . . . ) be too large or an unpleasing design. For ladies, the neckline may be considered too low. The absence of the tie on a male photograph may not be acceptable.
Then there are the physical attributes of the candidate; too fat, too thin, facial hair, birthmarks or moles, eye colour, make up, plain, ugly or too attractive the list goes on. And what if the photograph reminds the reader of a cheating partner or spouse, an old adversary or school bully, a teacher they didn’t like, or former employer they didn’t get on with. And more. All of these issues, and many more, can eliminate you from the process before it even begins. These things have absolutely no bearing on the capability or suitability of the candidate, and most readers/recruiters/selectors will say that they would never allow such subjectivity to colour their decision.
However . . . the problem is that these instant, split-second impressions hit the cortex before any objective criteria come into play; part of our animal instinct. Remember the old adage that it’s always too late to make a good first impression. All but the most discerning and/or aware professionals, who understand the way the subconscious works, would have the intellectual capacity to override it, but it is a rare individual indeed that is prepared to do so.
This is not a matter of opinion. It’s a Law, like the law of gravity. Whether you agree with gravity, or it’s not convenient for you, or you need a break from it, you will still hit the ground and probably die if you step off the 20th floor of a tower block. And it doesn’t matter how good or bad you are, or whether you have everything to live for. The Law is completely impartial . . . . and it operates 100% of the time. Most books and articles giving CV writing advice will completely omit such information.
Right or wrong, can you now see the reasons for not including a photograph?