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First impression: how to choose a photo for your CV?


As it is said, “Good clothes open all doors.” If we talk about “clothes” in the context of a job interview it will surely be your photo on your resume.

Talentgrator had an interesting conversation with Timur Suleimanov, a fashion photographer from Prague, a graduate of the Moscow Academy of Photography, a member of the Union of Art Photographers of Russia and the Czech Republic. Moreover, Timur is the only Russian photographer, who was awarded the “Contribution to the Art of Photography” prize by the Masaryk Czech Academy of Arts. Read our interview with Timur and look for the questions of your own: 

Is it better to take a selfie or ask someone to take a photo? Is it even ok to take a photo with your phone? 

In general, a resume itself is a mini-presentation of you and it is necessary to take such a self-presentation very seriously. According to recent studies, 90% of information is transmitted to the brain visually. The brain processes visual information 60,000 times faster than text. It means that, in many ways, an HR-manager gets his first impression of an applicant through his photo on a resume. If the candidate did not bother to make an effort to present himself in a better way, then the attitude towards him will be like a person who is careless and not serious. If you want a different attitude towards yourself, then it is better to use selfies on social networks. Of course, you can take a photo on a modern smartphone with special portrait modes, but definitely not on the front camera. The most reliable way here is to ask a professional photographer and get a set of photos that you can then use for CVs. 

What is better to wear for a good resume photo?

Your clothes in the photo on the resume should reflect the business culture. Although it seems to be an axiom, it depends on the position and the company to which the applicant is sending the resume. If this is the position of an IT specialist in a very democratic company, then it is quite possible to be photographed in a T-shirt. For example, I have a client – a small IT company that has chosen a sailor top as part of its corporate culture, and I take pictures of the whole team in sailor tops to be posted on the corporate website. If we are talking about the legal department, then no matter how democratic the company is, you need to wear a business suit. In any case, clothes should be clean and tidy. It is not worth showing a deep neckline or trying to flaunt inflated muscles unless the specifics of the position require it. 

What background is the best for taking a photo? If there is no one-color wall at home, how to do it at home? 

By definition, the background does not have a huge sense, so it should be neutral and not overload the photo with unnecessary information. It is clear that photos taken in the kitchen, at a corporate party, or through the mirror in a restaurant toilet will not pass. If the situation is completely hopeless, and it is impossible to find a monochromatic neutral piece of the vertical surface, then you need to proceed from the fact that there should not be too bright and colored objects in the frame. 

How to choose a photographer, whom to contact to take a professional photo?

The photographer is usually chosen based on his portfolio. Of course, the better the portfolio and the more photos of famous people it contains, the more expensive its services will be. But investing in yourself, which includes having professional photos, will pay for itself in the future. You need to come to the photographer with a ready brief and try to convey to him what you need to get in the end. Your image, costume, hairstyle, makeup should form a thoughtful image, based on which the photographer will take the necessary photos. As far as I can see resume photography is not the easiest type of shooting and there are a lot of nuances that have to be taken into account in such photo sets. 

If I am sure that my appearance is against me (I consider myself ugly / I want to hide something, etc.) – how shall I solve this problem in the photo?

In the modern world, which actively fights against any kind of discrimination, neither your beauty, nor skin color, nor sexual orientation should matter anymore. It is worth asking the question: – “What kind of person would the HR manager love to see in the resume?”. The problems of entering and adapting a new employee to the team, and maximizing his potential are the main tasks of HR managers. Of course, both the HR manager and the hiring manager want to see an open, friendly face with a natural smile in the photo. You should not apply too many filters in the processing of photos, because their excessiveness will only ruin the impression of the applicant. It is better to entrust the processing to a photographer or professional retoucher. 

What are the best poses for a photo on a resume?

The photo on the resume assumes a medium-sized shot, which means that the photo should only show the face and shoulders of the candidate. Full-length photographs are of little use, and therefore we can’t use a variety of poses. If the photo on the resume is located at the top left, then it is better to turn the shoulders to the left, if on the right, then to the right. The face must be turned directly to the camera. I would not recommend putting the photo with your arms crossed on your resume, as this posture speaks of closeness and can be assumed as an aggressive one. 

May I use a photo from my previous place of work?

If you understand that these photos do not correspond to reality, you need to take new photos. It is ok – the world is changing, and we are changing. Even if the resume itself suits the employer, at the interview he expects to see the same person as in the photo on the resume. Too much mismatch will reduce the credibility of the applicant and may end up with rejection. 

You can have a look at Timur’s projects on the official website and on his Instagram and LinkedIn accounts. We wish all applicants to have wonderful photos, the main beauty of which are your glowing eyes and open smile! 

While we are waiting for your CVs on our email [email protected]