CV Photo: How to Take the Perfect professional Selfie

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Photo by Anete Lusina

At Abroad Experience, we look at A LOT of CVS every single day and we have seen some truly astounding choices for the accompanying CV photos of applicants. From tanned girls in strapless tops posed on a beach with beers in their hands to one expressionless man in a business suit staring up at us from the seat of a comically tiny red and yellow child’s tricycle, we have truly seen it all!

The choice of your profile photo is a deceptively important feature of your CV. It is what will attract the eye of recruiters first and you really want their first thought to be “This person looks like they’d fit right in at our company,” and not “Is s/he joking?”

What follows are some helpful tips for framing your perfect CV photo:

  1. Frame from the waist up.

    Profile photos should be of your profile. Full body shots are unnecessary and fill up valuable space on your CV better used for listing your qualifications! If you need examples you can always check pictures used by the employees of the brand you wish to work for.

  2. Dress professionally.

    This means no tank tops, no strapless clothing, no t-shirts (especially with inappropriate messages or slogans), no hats and minimal jewellery. A good rule of thumb is a clean dress shirt, with or without a suit jacket.

  3. Hair and makeup should be neutral.

    No one is asking you to dye your blue hair back to brown – you do you! – but perhaps you can pull it back or minimalize it in the photo so that it doesn’t distract from your winning smile! Makeup should, likewise, be kept at an “at the office” level rather than a “Saturday night out with friends” level. A great make-up look for professional pictures only requires mascara, blush, a little highlighter and soft-coloured lipstick.

  4. Make a neutral expression

    Keep facial expressions and hand gestures neutral. This means no exaggerated bug eyes, no fish puckering of the mouth, no silly filters, no squinting and no peace or gang signs. While facing the camera, imagine that you are walking into a face-to-face interview for your dream job. How would you smile? Try to aim for a soft smile and do not forget to smile with your eyes.

  1. Avoid props.

    Think of the man on the tricycle and avoid props. This also goes for alcoholic beverages or cigarettes (yes, we’ve seen it). If there’s a plant or an (appropriate) painting in the background, that’s totally fine! Otherwise, just your charming face in front of a white background will suffice.

  2. Think “passport photo,” not “Facebook selfie”.

    Angle the photo so that you are facing straight on and directing your gaze one degree above your camera lens. Do not take CV photos from the awkward angles you might use for an Instagram post: it is probably very flattering with an Amaro filter, but on a CV it will only raise eyebrows.

  3. Ask someone to help.

    It can be helpful to ask someone else to step in and take your photo while you concentrate on standing up straight and smiling in such a way that reads “Hire me!”

And there you have it. With only these seven guidelines, you’re on your way to taking the perfect CV photo that will grab the attention of your audience in all the right ways. 

Our recruitment team can’t wait to see those top-notch professional photos on your CVs!

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