One of the most frequently asked questions I get from hygienists has to do with putting their picture on their resume.
It makes sense on a lot of levels – many feel a measure of vulnerability by doing so.
I’ve read lots and lots of articles about it and heard most (if not all) of the reasons for and against, so my approach is based on not just actual experience but also many opinions.
Based on what I’ve written, and what many of our products at GetHiredRDH.com indicate, you can probably guess I favor putting your picture on your resume.
Let me acknowledge some of the arguments against. These include privacy concerns, fears of age discrimination, cost or time involved in getting professional pictures taken, and some simply don’t like how they appear in pictures.
Why You Want Your Picture on Your Resume
Before I address those concerns, let me start with the main reason to include your picture on your resume. When you market anything (product or person) you need to create differentiators – things that make you stand out or appear different.
Since not very many hygienists put a picture on a resume it’s a great way to differentiate yourself. Additionally, it makes the document look sharp and professional – like you put extra time into it. As an employer, “do I want to hire the person that looks like they put the least amount of time, effort or expense into their resume or the most?”
Translation: “If they put this much into their resume, maybe they will put extra effort into their job, too.”
When a resume has those qualities of standing out – it will for sure get extended attention and time from the employer. They will look at it longer and (hopefully) notice other things about you – your skills, experience, etc.
Privacy is a serious issue today, but I believe a picture on a resume you give to a select number of people doesn’t rise to the same level as other things we do to – almost without even thinking. We create social media pages and plaster pictures and information about ourselves that potentially anyone could get their hands on if they had the skills and interest to do so (remember, nothing is 100% secure online).
We also routinely give bank tellers, hotel computers, and restaurant servers our credit card information. And most of us use WiFi connections to transmit all kinds of data. Security breaches of these kinds happen all the time and can be very disruptive and distressing.
However, yes, there are legit privacy concerns for some. I had a co-worker that had a restraining order against a former boyfriend who just wouldn’t leave her alone. As a result, she had to take lots of measures to protect herself – I would imagine a picture on a resume would at least make her feel uneasy and I understand that.
Discrimination (Based on Age or Appearance)
Unfortunately this, too, is real. For sure, there are some who will have it set in their head what the ideal hygienist looks like.
First question: Do you really want to work for someone that wants you because your hair, how old you are, or some other physical feature that has nothing to do with your ability to connect with patients or skill as a hygienist? Even if you ARE what they are looking for – you wouldn’t want that because it could be a red flag for what’s to come.
If a dentist hires exclusively for cosmetic reasons there is likely a pattern of many bad decisions in their practice that will ultimately hurt both themselves and everyone working for them. Who would want to be in THAT practice?
I don’t believe that the vast majority of dentists are discriminating based on age or beauty. I think there’s a larger segment who are overly-focused on wealth, which is more understandable from the perspective of them being small business owners and needing a profit to stay in business.
Point number three, they are going to see what you look like eventually. So if they are the discriminating type they are saving you the trouble of coming in where they will cast their judgment on you in person.
CareerBuilder.com found in their research that 90 percent of all hiring managers will “Google” the names of people there are interested in interviewing. They want to know what you look like, maybe a little bit about your personality, and if there are any red flags – simple as that.
Adding your picture to your resume may take some of the curiosity out of searching for you on the Internet. Not entirely, which is why I advise creating online profiles on sites like LinkedIn and possibly Facebook, too. But it does help you control better what employers see.
It also helps prevent mistaken identity. There are other Doug Perry’s in the world – in fact my sister recently sent me an article about one that is a convicted serial killer in Washington (I grew up in Oregon, but now live in Utah). I hope no one mistakes me for pictures they find of that guy!
Cost, Time and “I Don’t Like”
I think everyone is capable of having a nice, professional picture taken of them. Find a good photographer (not necessarily Target or Sears). If you need to save money, make look for a photography student or someone just starting out and just have them take lots of pictures to choose from.
Yes, it can cost some dollars, but this is your career you are talking about. This the place where you will be spending enormous amounts of time and hopefully making a great financial living – isn’t something that is such a big part of our life worth the investment in things like this?
One final recommendation is that you get some shots in both business formal dress and clinical attire. I often opt for the clinical attire because it, psychologically, helps the dentist more clearly envision you as their hygienist.
Wrapping it Up
Again, using a picture on your resume is a personal decision and there are legitimate reasons you may not want to, but in my opinion those that do have the advantage.
In the end, this is your career, your life and your resume, and you have to do what’s best for you.