Picture This: Using Pictures on Your Resume

Picture Worth a Thousand WordsThe use of pictures in a job search is an ongoing debate on career service blogs and LinkedIn groups I follow and there is no shortage of opinions on this topic so I think I’ll chime in today with my thoughts.

The proverb “Confucius say picture is worth a thousand words” is really “Use a picture. It’s worth a thousand words” and it first appeared in 1911 in a newspaper article discussing journalism and publicity and there is much about resume writing and conducting a job search that we can learn from journalists and PR professionals and how they use pictures.

First we need to understand there are two types of pictures; one is a physical image, for instance a photograph or a logo, and the other is subliminal picture, an image that attaches itself to the reader’s mind.

The skill of a journalist is turning words into mental images. They must be talented interviewers and researchers who can gather relevant information and then synthesize and condense it to tell a story that imparts the desired mental picture to a reader’s mind.

This is also what a skilled resume writer must do; gather pertinent information, sift through it to determine what’s relevant and what’s not, and then put it down in writing in the most streamlined and readable presentation in a way that leaves a  vivid 3-D picture of an ideal candidate on the reader’s mind.

Unfortunately too many resumes, whether accomplishment, skill or responsibility based, tend to be verbose, miss or just gloss over the most salient points, and worst bore a reader rather than painting a memorable picture of a person who will remain in their mind after they finish reading the document.

The skill of a PR professional is different from a journalist. They must know how, when and where to combine words and pictures to tell a story and establish a brand.

This too is something a modern day resume writer must excel at especially in an era of social media.

Where there is controversy is whether to use a photo, or a logo or other image in a resume, on a LinkedIn page and on other social media sites.

When it comes to resumes, my opinion is the majority of the time a picture is not necessary but when it comes to social media a picture is a must. The key is the picture must convey the right image and should be consistent on all platforms.

I understand there are countries around the globe where a picture is a necessity on a CV but in the USA many resume professionals consider this off-limits. To me this may have been true in the past but is less so today. Besides sticking to old-time traditions, a reason naysayers give for not using a photo on a resume is “discrimination.” To me this reason no longer exists since the likelihood is if an employer or recruiter did a web search they would most likely find your image somewhere online.

This said, I do not include a photo or company or school logos on most resumes I write, but each year I find myself using them, under the right circumstances of course, more often than the previous year. Some people have told me this shows a lack of professionalism by not following accepted convention. I see it as being a trendsetter and the results justify this. The key is distinguishing how and where a visual image is effective, in good taste, and tells or adds to rather than detracts from the story you want to tell about why a candidate should be interviewed and hired.

Photos and pictures on social are a totally different story. A quality head shot or photo that conveys your desired brand is a must for your LinkedIn page and the same photo should be used on Facebook, Twitter, your website etc.

Also I recommend if your company or college has a recognizable logo to upload that on your social media pages as well.

As always I am happy to critique U.S. resumes and LinkedIn pages at no cost. Email me at perry@perrynewman.com.

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