I routinely get questions from clients about including a photo 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 a photo on your resume.
However, you should also know that it does make a difference in certain circumstances. Today, let’s review the case for and against this issue and you can decide what’s right for you.
Lots of Dental Hygiene Resumes Have Them
First of all, you should know that about 50% of my clients opt to include a photo on their resume. As you know by now, I have written and designed lots of dental hygiene resumes. In fact, I am not aware of anyone who has reviewed or created as many as I have – they are my specialty. My point is that at 50% that’s a high number.
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.
Decades ago, the technology to do so was not available and thus tradition has superseded change. But more and more people are doing it to get that little extra edge.
What are Employers Finding?
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 to 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 you may have posted somewhere? Putting your picture on your resume, helps you 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
There’s also plenty of research to suggest that 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. And, it comes at a critical point in the hiring process – before they meet you.
Every Employer will See You Eventually
If someone is going to discriminate against you, they can do it just as easily after they meet you. It’s unfortunate but true, and you will never know for sure unless they disclose it.
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, product, and profitability) are they an employer you would feel confident working for and representing, much less referring people to?
Why You Shouldn’t Use a Photo
There are some instances where an employer will specifically request that you NOT 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, academic institution, or governmental agency is hiring. Very rarely will the average private dental practice discourage you from it. In fact, many go out of their way to request it.
Legally, I am unaware of any law stating they can’t request a photo of you – if you know otherwise let me know so I can share with others. They can request it, they just can’t use it as a basis for hiring or not 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 (avoid a white wall)
- Outdoor pictures will always produce the best lighting (in fact, usually far better)
- Turn your shoulders and 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 for clinical jobs would be a lab coat)
- Practice your smile in the mirror ahead of time – relaxed and genuine are the look you want to achieve
- Take lots of pictures and have a friend help you narrow down the best
Again, this is a personal decision. There are a lot of good reasons to do it and results to back them up. But there are also certain times and circumstances when you need to go without. Think it through carefully for you. If you are still on the fence, have one with and one without.
Doug Perry is an expert resume writer and job search coach. He and his wife, Tracie, who is a dental hygienist, created GetHiredRDH in response to the challenging dental hygiene job market and have helped thousands of dental hygienists through tips and individual services. If you need individual, click here to contact Doug.