How to Take and Edit a Great CV Photo

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Shivangi Gupta
Shivangi Gupta
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Many CV templates include a space for your photograph. Should you include a photo on your CV? How can you take and edit a good photo? Where does it fit into the CV layout? We’ll examine these questions and more.

Curious to learn more? This article contains a wealth of information on resume and CV pictures.

Should I Include a Photo on My CV?

Resume templates that include photos have been trending for a number of years. However, CV expectations differ from place to place.

If you live in or are applying for a job in an English-speaking country, likely you should not include a photo on your CV. This is true of the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand, for example. The reason for this is the anti-discrimination legislation in these countries.

In other places, employers will expect you to include a picture. These nations include but are not limited to those in Europe, Asia, South America, Africa, and the Middle East.

There are exceptions to these rules, so do your research to determine normative behaviors in the country in question.

How to Take a Good Photo

Consider the following steps to take a high-quality photo.

  1. Use a good camera. A DSLR or smartphone with a high-quality camera (such as an iPhone Pro, Google Pixel, or Samsung Galaxy) will work best. If the resulting image looks fuzzy, grainy, or pixelated when you zoom in on it, use a different camera.
  2. Dress for success. Semi-formal or business casual attire is recommended for most jobs. If your field has a “uniform” – scrubs, labcoats, hi-vis, etc. – you may opt for this attire. Avoid hats or sunglasses (unless you wear a head covering for religious reasons) as well as overly casual clothing, such as t-shirts.
  3. Pay attention to the background. A light, solid-colored background is best. You may also use a non-distracting textured background, such as brick or wood.
  4. Avoid distractions. Your CV photo should include only you, not other people, pets, or objects. 
  5. Use good lighting. Soft natural light is best. Try to take your photo indoors with the light streaming in through a window. Avoid harsh, shadow-causing lights. If you don’t have good lighting, use a selfie ring light.
  6. Have someone else take the photo. Don’t take a selfie, as this type of photo is often taken at an unflattering angle. 
  7. Smile! Your facial expression should be open and friendly. This says, “I’m easy to work with.”

Remember, your photo should resemble a social media thumbnail or a passport photo. In fact, if you don’t have a camera or a suitable location available, you can have passport photos taken at a local pharmacy or other location.

Can you simply use a photo you already have on your phone? Not likely. At the very least, most fun photos have complicated backgrounds – objects, home decor, cityscapes, or landscapes. Many phone photos are selfies or include other people. It’s always best to take a photo, especially for your CV.

How to Edit Your Photo

There are a number of free and affordable photo editing software applications available for smartphones and PCs. The following steps utilize the tools available in the popular Adobe Photoshop programs, but something similar can be done in almost any photo editor.

  1. Crop your photo. The image should be square or slightly rectangular, with your head and shoulders included. Center your face in the middle of the image.
  2. Adjust the lighting as needed.
  3. Erase any distracting elements.
  4. Save your photo as a high-quality .jpg or “jpeg” file.

There are also a few don’ts you should keep in mind. Don’t use artistic photo filters, and don’t put digital stickers or frames on your photo.

Where to Put the Photo on Your CV

Typically, the photo should be on the first page of your CV, near your contact information. It should be small, about the size of a wallet-sized photo when printed.

CV Photo Alternatives

If you live or work in a country where a CV photo is not advisable, a headshot photo can still go a long way towards making a good impression. How so?

Most employers will Google you to see what search results say about you. They will likely look at your LinkedIn profile. This is an appropriate place for your headshot picture. By following the tips above, your profile photo can speak volumes about you – a smiling face denotes qualities like friendliness, teamwork, and empathy.

While you’re at it, take a look at your other social media profiles as well, as these too may be seen by your hiring manager. Make sure your profile picture depicts you in a way you’d be happy for your boss to see. Remove any inappropriate, controversial, or questionable posts and pictures. Set your account settings to “Private.”

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