Almost daily, I get questions from clients about including a photograph of themselves on their resume. It’s a great question. It’s also a very personal question because each job seeker needs to do what’s right for them.
There are all kinds of reasons why you would be concerned about doing it. Most of them are based on fears of discrimination and/or privacy. I want to validate that and tell you that it’s okay to not include your photo on your resume.
However, it would be irresponsible of me to not give you some reasons to think about including it, so let’s review them.
Lots of Dental Hygiene Resumes Have Them
First of all, you should know that about 60-70% of my clients opt to include a photo of on their resume. As you know by now, I have written and designed lots and lots of dental hygiene resumes over the years and so that’s a pretty high number who are doing it.
I hear it over and over, that hygienists who include a photo of themselves on their resume get compliments for doing so from employers. In most cases, a resume that has a photo of the job seeker on it is going to grab attention for the simple fact that it’s different.
Research shows, more than 90 percent of all employers admit to searching on the Internet for people they are considering for an interview. Generally, they perform a Google search and see what pops up. For obvious reasons, employers want the best employee and if they can spot something problematic about a job seeker with a simple search then why not?
Given that fact, would you rather have them find someone they think might you in a less-than-flattering picture? Or even if it is you, in a less-than-flattering picture? Including your picture on your resume, helps you better control a good, accurate first impression. And there’s plenty of data on the value of a good first impression.
Your Photo is Your Brand
Studies show, we place higher trust in what we can see. So, if you are in a position of trying to create and build trust with someone who doesn’t know you, your photo can do a lot to help psychologically build that trust at a very critical point in the hiring process – even before they meet you.
Every Employer will See You Eventually
If they do use your picture to discriminate against you, do you really want to work for that kind of employer? If they put things that don’t matter ahead of things that do matter (like service to their patients and profitability) are they an employer you would feel confident working for and representing, much less referring patients you care about to?
One More Important Consideration
There are some instances where an employer will specifically request that you include a photo. If you decide you are going to have a resume with a picture, make sure you have a resume without one so that you can respect their request. This is most often the case, but not always, in situations where a corporation or governmental agency is hiring. Very rarely will a clinical office make a request that you not include a photo – in fact some are the opposite and will request it.
Legally, I am unaware of any law saying they can’t request a photo of you. They just can’t use it as a basis for hiring you.
Going with a Photo
If you do include a photo, try and get one professionally done or at least really well done on your own. Consider the following when taking one on your own (presumably with a friend’s help – no selfies).
- Find an interesting background, brick or rock walls are great and so are trees and other natural objects
- Outdoor pictures will always produce the best lighting (in fact, usually far better)
- Turn your body to the side slightly (don’t position yourself straight on)
- Wear something professional, like what you would wear to a job interview (also acceptable or good would be a lab coat)
- Practice your smile in the mirror ahead of time – relaxed and genuine are the look you want to achieve