"Is it okay, or even beneficial, to include a photo of myself on my resume?"
This is such a great and timely question! With the increased use of LinkedIn and other social media sites in business today, it can seem like a dated practice to NOT include your photo on your resume or CV. But wait...before you insert a selfie into the latest version of your resume, let's consider the risks and benefits.
LinkedIn has changed the candidate landscape for recruiting and job seeking. Not having a photo on LinkedIn is considered “out of touch” with professional practice. So, can we conclude that not having a photo on your resume is also "out of touch" with professional practice?
Most companies employ or contract a Human Resources (HR) professional or employment law attorney to develop their hiring process. Their goal in hiring an HR law expert to design their process is to reduce the company's liability risk. Employer's want to avoid discrimination claims. The easiest way to circumvent a claim of discrimination is to avoid collecting any information about a candidate that relates to a Title VII protected class (race, national origin, color, sex and religion.) It is expected that individuals working in the business world are familiar with this legislation and the surrounding legal concerns. Including information that discloses your race, national origin, color, sex or religion on your resume can call your business acumen into question.
"But a recruiter who views my LinkedIn profile has access to my photo and, therefore, protected class information about me. What's the difference?"
This is very true. However, most companies will use LinkedIn as a passive candidate recruiting tool. They often run searches based on keywords in your profile and then direct you to a job posting or website, if they feel you have the qualifications for the role. From there, you will need to email or submit a resume (or CV) for consideration (not your LinkedIn profile). The sourcing professional who found you on LinkedIn is typically not the same person who will screen your information in the hiring process. The screening professional will review your resume and be unaware of any Title VII information included on LinkedIn or other social media sites. This way, their decision to rule you out or invite you to interview will be made solely based on the information provided in your resume.
With that said, there are progressive companies who accept LinkedIn profiles as a form of application. If you apply to a company with this practice, you should be safe to include a photo on your resume (if it is later requested). In certain countries (i.e. Germany or France) it is appropriate to include a photo of yourself on your resume. Many small businesses do not have a formal hiring process and will not count it against you if you include a photo. However, for the vast majority of small, mid-sized and large U.S. companies, including a photo on your resume may harm your chances for consideration. Some U.S. companies even have a practice of discarding any resume received with Title VII information on it.
Let's discuss any potential benefits to including your photo. A photo can humanize you and it can make your resume stand out from the crowd of black text on white paper. Are there other ways to accomplish this that don't involve the risk of being screened out? Yes. You can include a graphic, a unique font color or formatting that will stand out from other resumes. You can incorporate a strong summary statement that explains your distinctive characteristics and strengths (thereby humanizing you to the reader.)
A recent study by The Ladders found that recruiters spend an average of 6 seconds reviewing a resume before making a determination about whether to pass on a candidate. When a photo was included on a resume, recruiters spent much of this sparse time looking at the photo rather than reading the content of the resume.
Ultimately, you need to learn about the organization before you submit a resume. Are they progressive, are they based in the U.S., who will initially review your resume (a recruiter, a hiring manager or a computer)? With this information, you can make an educated decision about whether or not to include your photo. Even at the most progressive company, it still may be to your advantage to omit your photo so the recruiter spends their time reading about your accomplishments rather than viewing your latest headshot.