Do you believe to improve your chances of a job in Germany when you NOT put a photo on your CV? That’s bullshit, and let me tell you why.

One of my clients told me about what he has learned in one of the lectures at university. I’m quite sure that the professor was an expert in his domain. But also in the art of self-marketing?

Think for a moment about what you think about this question:

After the lecture, the professor gave his international students some tips on how to apply for a job in Germany.
One of these tips was not to submit a photo along with CV. He said, that a photo on CV would reduce the chances to find a job in Germany because they are foreigners in Germany.
A student from this lecture recently told me about it and asked me for my advice: As a non EU-professional, should I insert a photo to my CV, yes or no?

Yes, you do need a picture

I have a very clear answer to this question. And I’m heartless 💘 about it.

Yes, you DO need to add a photo to your CV.

A terrific photo! ✨

A brilliant picture!

A photo, in which you look so charming, friendly and winning in the camera, that every HR will have their heart opened💓💯💝. One that makes your future colleagues so emotional that they do a shoutout🔊 to HR to bring forward the hiring date. Because they can’t wait until you join the team and share desks with them.

What kind of picture?

When I speak of a photo, I do not mean:

I talk about a professional photo taken by an experienced and well-trained professional photographer. One that takes modern photos in 2020-style in the way of German “Bewerbungsfotos”.

If you know me, well, you know there’s never one absolutely right answer for me. This time, though, there’s only one option.

Let me explain why I’m so outspoken:

Professional photos are a given

In Germany, a photo on the curriculum vitae is common.

MyJob Germany – Advice

“Especially as an international candidate, you need the most brilliant and professional picture that you’ve ever had.

Nicola Pilz, Career Mentor for more than 20 years

Even the German anti-discrimination law didn’t affect this habit. Since 2007, this law has been in force, and companies are no longer allowed to reject an individual without a photo on the CV.

The photo lives on, despite the law: More than 90% of all applicants add their photo.

HR people expect a photo

In a survey, 80% of the personnel managers interviewed stated that the photo is important in the recruitment process.

Without a photo, a very important element is missing. It’s a bit like when a colleague is walking into the office in the morning and not saying hello.

The absence of the photo may trigger a cloud of associations in HR of all sorts.

Like, is the applicant too scatterbrained and forgot the photo? Or not interested in the job by heart. That’s why she /he didn’t bother. Or, the applicant is not German, so she/he’s not familiar with German customs. Upps, caution, because who knows what other things about our working life she/he may not be aware of.

A CV without a photo may arouse aggression

If the photo is missing, aggression is possible.

I have to admit that I was fed up in the past. It was when I had an application on the table and I couldn’t get a complete impression. Because … no photo.

Let me explain why. This candidate, who had not submitted a photo, made my work more difficult than necessary!
For a thorough pre-selection, I need significant applications. If an applicant does not give me these, I’m faced with a dilemma.

I have to examine the documents again very carefully and give my colleagues a detailed explanation of why I consider this applicant eligible for the job.

If later on in the interview the applicant turns out not to be the perfect match, this always falls back on me a bit. Then my colleagues tell me, irritated, they could have saved themselves the interview. Plus, that would have been obvious from the photo. Instead, they’d have wasted an hour…

For academics, a professional photo is a must

For an internship or a student job, a simple photo is quite enough.

I wouldn’t expect an expensive photo from a school leaver applying for a training position either.
A standard photo taken with an iPhone in favorable daylight is enough. It’s most important to have a friendly and likable expression.

But, my requirements for an educated applicant are different.

Professionalism, also in appearance, is what I expect.

How much is a professional photo?

The prices vary greatly. In my home town Paderborn it is about 30-35 EURO. This price means that you will receive a digital photo. Together with the photographer, you choose the best one out of the numerous photoshoots taken. The photo will be edited and then you get a USB stick or a CD.

Photos create trust

A photo conveys a whole world view at a glance.

Which world view do you advocate?

Trust is an increasingly important value in today’s world and we cannot overestimate it.

Having confidence in an applicant is an essential prerequisite for employment. Only whom I trust to be loyal and sincere, to do his work well, and not to exploit or harm me, I offer a contract to.

As an HR manager, it is very important to find out whether an applicant corresponds to the values of the company.

If you’re from outside Germany, I try to find evidence that I can trust you. This can be aspects such as how long you have been living in Germany if you have worked here before and if your behavior patterns blend in and match the team and the company.

This is why I consider a well-done professional application photo to be so indispensable.

Reveal yourself as the reliable, trustworthy, and downright nice applicant the company is looking for.

Please do not hide your origin and identity! Instead, show your chocolate side.

Persuade with a photo that reflects your unique character, your competence, and your energy in a masterly style.

The right equipment for portrait photography

Taking a photo for the CV in good studio-quality requires professional technical equipment.

At the moment photos for applications are being taken in the studio.

There you can choose from a vast variety of backgrounds. All the tech stuff there, from camera to lenses to indirect light, enhances the quality of the photo.

Get an experienced portrait photographer

Photography is a craft that requires a lot of intuition and sleight of hand.
And lots of training. Without training, without close observation of people, it’s not possible.

The facial expressions of a person change so quickly, and the photographer has to capture exactly this one magic moment where all is right.

He needs to check the incidence of the light and how the light changes the expression of the face. He directs you in detail to achieve your wanted effect. The position of the head, a little to the left, now down… and now: Smile!, now down… and now: Smile!

A friend is not suitable as a guide

When you have your photos taken by a photographer, you’re overwhelmed when you need to choose the most suited. To choose from dozens of similar photos is a real art.

The photographer does it in no time at all. He looks at the entire collection, selects the five optimal photos, and discusses with you which one reflects your traits best.

We ourselves are guaranteed not to find this one best photo for the CV. This is because we are „operationally blind“ to ourselves. We see ourselves distorted in the mirror of our unique perception.

Even a trusted friend is biased in her/ his perception of us.

The experienced photographer is quite different, he looks at us through the eyes of an HR manager.

So, he is able to recommend that one photo in which we radiate that special flair. Exactly the way we thought about it before.

Present yourself as a personality

Do you want to appear open and friendly?

Or assertive, very competent, and precise?
Warm and filled with positive energy?

Whatever impact you want to achieve, speak to the photographer and get advice.

It depends on what job you’re applying for and what level of hierarchy. A controller aims to create a different impact than a salesperson.

Advice on your business look

Your professional photographer will be happy to advise you on which shirt, blouse or jacket suits you better.

Sometimes the consultation with the outfit is also part of the preparation before the shooting, then you can ask for tips before. Especially if you need to buy a suit or a jacket.

During the shooting the photographer takes care that you look perfect.

If you haven’t ironed your collar properly, his trained eye will see that. If your hair is straightforward and covers your eyes, he will ask you to hold your head differently. Or he may suggest that you hold your long hair differently.

Once again, you go through all this trouble with the photos for your CV to get a really great look and to wrap the recruiters around your finger with your charisma.

The optimal pose

An expert instructs you to adopt different postures.

In a conversational tone, he explains to you his lighting, recounts some anecdotes from his work, and brings you to laughter with a relaxed cheerfulness.

While doing so, he instructs you in specific ways and takes shots in different postures, head to the left, chin forward, turn a little bit towards me…. and smile in a laid-back mood. Look into my eyes, darling! 😊.

Click, click, click, and your best photo for your application is in the box.

The magic of Photoshop 😜

The correction of skin blemishes is allowed, as well as minor beauty retouching.

You should be careful with country-specific beauty ideals. In Germany, for example, it is particularly attractive when the face in a photo for a CV looks natural. This is just part of the cultural thing that you need to be aware of – it doesn’t mean it’s more or less pretty than pictures in other countries. Just different.

Therefore, make-up should not be too powerful, emotions should be visible and laughter lines are allowed. If Germans find a face too smooth, they feel uncomfortable. There’s an expression for this, it’s called a “maskenhaftes” face („mask-like”), behind which a person prefers to hide.

You certainly want to avoid that.

Confidence booster

Photos have a magical effect on us.

Do you know this inner astonishment when you look at the truly excellent photo of a friend? This realization that you know this person – but that you see that special quality for the first time?

This is the effect we are talking about. Sometimes we experience this effect also when we look at a picture of ourselves. So professional, so winning.

This boost of confidence helps you to be exactly this person when you’re in an interview.

You rock!