A good job application photo will evoke sympathy and leave a positive impression on the recruiter. But be careful: a poor job application photo can have the opposite effect, reducing your chances. So, you should know what a good job application photo should look like, what to wear, and what is important for the quality of the photo. We show you examples of job application photos and give you tips to make your job application stand out.
When you want to include a photo in your job application, you should check the law in the country you’re applying in. For example: According to the General Equal Treatment Act (AGG) in Germany, employers are not allowed to ask for a photo. This is to prevent discrimination - after all, appearance does not tell the recruiter anything about a candidate's suitability. Despite this, it is still common practice in Germany to use a job application photo. Especially in small and family-owned companies, the personal impression is still important.
Other countries have stricter rules when it comes to your application photo. Make sure you know exactly how this is handled in the country of your choice.
If your job application photo ticks the three boxes above, that's half the battle. However, other factors need to be considered for your job application photo to fully impress the recruiter. The following job application photo tips will show you what to look out for.
Your job application photo should focus on your face. For a job application photo in the CV, a so-called half-portrait in portrait format is best: This shows the head and shoulders of the person photographed, but not the entire torso. The bottom of a half-portrait should be at chest level – no elbows or waistline. If your job application photo will appear on a cover page, a landscape format is also an option.
You should avoid frontal shots, as they often have a confrontational effect. Instead, it looks more open and approachable if your body is slightly turned to the side, but your face is looking directly at the camera. Also, make sure you have a straight posture and positive body language.
A full-body shot is only an option in exceptional cases, for example, if you are applying as a model or personal trainer.
The perspective from which the job application photo is taken is also important. Ideally, you should 'meet' the camera lens, and therefore the person in the picture, at eye level, with direct eye contact. Looking up at the camera from below, on the other hand, can make you look insecure or even submissive. If you look down at the viewer from above or avoid eye contact, you will appear arrogant and unappealing.
When it comes to the background and design of a job application photo, less is more. The candidate should be the focus of the photo. Any design elements that distract from this are counterproductive. This means:
Modern job application photos are also increasingly being taken in a business environment, for example in a company lobby or in front of a large window, rather than in a studio. Photographers often deliberately blur the background in such shots so that the candidate is clearly in the foreground. It is also important that the other elements of the image do not draw too much attention to themselves. However, such elaborate job application photos are not suitable for every job application: If you want to land an entry-level job, you should opt for understatement and not pose like a CEO. Overconfidence rarely goes down well with recruiters.
Your job application photo should give a serious, professional impression. Remember that the recruiter is looking for a reliable employee for the company - not a friend for your spare time. However, it is important to remain authentic. If your job application photo shows you with a gold tie pin and gel hairdo, but you show up for the job interview with a more casual look, this raises questions. Such over-staging usually does more harm than good.
Instead, present yourself in a discreet, industry-standard look in your job application photo. Of course, clothing plays an important role – more on this below. Also, make sure your appearance is well-groomed. Long hair should be tied back or simply combed. You should not have a three-day beard, but should either be freshly shaved or have your full beard trimmed. Discreet use of jewellery and make-up is acceptable.
A friendly, open smile is also always well-received. Again, authenticity is important. An artificial smile, forced, or tense tends to put people off. Unfortunately, many people find it difficult to relax in front of the camera and smile casually. When in doubt, have several job application photos taken - some smiling, some not. Afterward, ask the photographer, friends, or family for advice: together, the decision will be easier.
Many applicants are unsure about what to wear for their job application photo. However, a simple rule of thumb can clear up many doubts:
Wear an outfit for the job application photo that you would also wear for the job interview. If you won't wear a jacket and tie to an interview, you don't need to wear the same outfit for your job application photo.
There are a few ways to think about what to wear for your job application photo:
As a general rule, clothing should be clean, wrinkle-free, and in immaculate condition. Men can almost always get away with a business shirt without doing anything wrong – jacket and tie are only compulsory in a few industries. Women, on the other hand, are usually on the safe side with a smart blouse - suits or trouser suits are rarely required.
Many people already have their job applications written by chatbots. Now, with the help of artificial intelligence, it is even possible to create an application photo in just a few clicks.
Apps like Remini, Profilbildpro or playground.ai are very easy to use: You upload a few photos of yourself, and the AI generates an application photo from them. The more photos you provide, the better the result should be.
However, the drawback of these AI-generated application photos is that you can see at first glance that they are not real photos. This is mainly due to the artificially smooth and flawless skin. Hands are another known source of error in AI-generated images: You can easily end up with too many or too few fingers. Also, most of these photo apps cost money and only offer a free trial period.
It is impossible to say how these artificially created application photos will be received by employers. At worst, they could give the impression that you are not motivated to invest time in creating your application. A fake application photo could indicate that you don't really care what others think of you. So, you could quickly be labelled as unmotivated and even stingy – after all, you have to pay for a professional application photo.
On the other hand, some employers might be thrilled that you're interested in AI tools and know how to use them. In technical and creative industries, you'll probably stand a better chance with an AI application photo than in a more conservative company such as a bank.
As the technology behind these artificially generated application photos is not yet mature enough to create a truly realistic and authentic application photo, we still recommend that you hire a professional photography team. This is the only way to ensure that you get an application photo that shows you in the best light.
Many applicants are unsure about their job application photo. The photo should make a good impression on the recruiter - but what should you look out for in a job application photo? Below we have collected and answered some of the most frequently asked questions about job application photos.
In Germany, the General Equal Treatment Act (AGG) states that employers are not allowed to ask for a job application photo. So, legally speaking, you don't have to include a photo in your job application – but many applicants still choose to do so. In other countries the rules are a lot stricter. So you should definitely inform yourself before sending in your job application.
The portrait photo usually goes in the top right-hand corner of the CV. For digital CVs, make sure that the image quality of the inserted file or scan is high. For paper job application folders, the job application photo should be glued in place with tape, glue sticks, or special photo glue, not stapled with a paper clip. If you are using a cover sheet, the job application photo can also be placed in portrait or landscape format.
The job application photo in the CV is slightly larger than a passport photo, with a standard size of 4.5 × 6 cm. If you place your job application photo on a cover page, you have more freedom to choose the size of the photo and to adapt it to the design of your CV.
Simple but professional job application photos cost on average between €20 and €40 – prices vary depending on the region and the photo studio. However, if you make an extra appointment for a job application photo shoot including consultation, retouching or even styling, you will pay more: prices for such a photo shoot start at 100 euros and can go much higher, depending on your requirements.
The job application photo can be taken in colour or black and white. There is no right or wrong, as both have their advantages. The quality and contrast of a black-and-white photo is particularly important. It usually looks more serious, more balanced, and more classic. On the other hand, it makes the recruiter feel more distant and less alive. A black and white job application photo therefore tends to work better in conservative sectors.
It depends on the dress code of the industry you are applying for. If you would not wear a tie to a job interview, you do not need to wear a tie in your job application photo. The situation is different if the tie is part of the everyday workwear in the job you are applying for, for example in banks, insurance companies, or financial services: In this case, you should also wear a tie in your job application photo.
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