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Can Resumes Get Rejected if They Have Photos, Charts, Graphs, or Any Images on It?

Writing resumes isn’t easy. Many people find it challenging and end up with lots of unanswered questions about the process. Indeed, one of the most common questions is whether or not resumes can be rejected simply because they have photos or other visual elements on them.


Well, the short answer is yes, your resume may be rejected right away if you include photos and images. However, that doesn’t quite tell the full story. With the job market slowing down, getting a perfect resume written by professionals is vital! Keep reading for a full explanation of how graphics and visuals might impact your resume’s chances of impressing a recruiter.


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How and Why Resumes with Visual Elements Get Rejected

It might seem strange that a resume could automatically get rejected just because it has one or two visual elements on it. Well, there are a few possible explanations for that.


Applicant Tracking Software

Let’s first address the elephant in the room: applicant tracking software, or ATS. This is a relatively recent innovation that has proven immensely popular in the business world of today. It’s basically software that is used to read resumes automatically, scanning through them and sorting them on behalf of recruiters.


Because of ATS, an increasing number of resumes simply aren’t being read by humans at all! They get scanned and rejected in a matter of seconds, and all that applicant’s hope and hard work goes up in smoke. Unfortunately, visual elements may be a reason why this happens, as a lot of ATS programs aren’t designed to read resumes with confusing or non-standard layouts.


Unconscious Biases and Discrimination

Unfortunately, another potential reason why your resume might get rejected if it has a photo – especially a photo of yourself – could be down to bias or discrimination. Even though laws and policies have been implemented to reduce the risk of discrimination in hiring processes, it still happens. There are many cases of workers being rejected based on age, gender, race, weight, looks, clothing choices, and so on.


Because of this, putting your photo on your resume can be a risky move in two main ways. First: a recruiter might discriminate against you based on some aspect of your appearance. Alternatively, the company might have a policy of automatically rejecting any resume with a photo out of it, purely because they don’t want to be accused of any kind of discrimination or bias.


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A Bad First Impression

Arguably the main purpose of any resume is to create a positive first impression. It’s designed to impress hiring managers enough that they want to learn more about you. So they give you a callback or invite you to an interview. However, if your resume is cluttered with lots of visuals or has an unusual design, with graphs, charts, and pictures, it may have the opposite effect.


A lot of recruiters admit that they simply don’t like to see visual elements on resumes. They argue that visuals have no place on this kind of document, or that they detract from the text. Some even feel that photos and images make resumes (and the candidates who submit them) look immature or unprofessional.


Distracting and Time-Wasting

Studies have shown that recruiters spend less than 11 seconds scanning the average resume. That might seem harsh or unfair. However, with hundreds of candidates often applying for a single job, it’s simply impossible for recruiters to spend ages going through every single application. They just don’t have the time to do so.


Instead, they tend to quickly scan each one and make up their mind quite quickly about whether it’s worth reading. If you’ve got lots of visual elements on your resume, that could work against you. Recruiters could get distracted by the graphs and charts, so fail to notice more important pieces of info about your skills, qualifications, or experiences.


Is It Ever a Good Idea to Include Visuals?

With so many arguments against photos and other visual elements, it might seem like they’re never worth including on a resume. However, there are some cases where you can feel free to include one or two visuals. In some cases, they could even work in your favor, but you must pick and choose the right times to use them. Here are some examples:


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If the Recruiter Asks

Obviously, if a recruiter actually asks to see some visuals on your resume, then you can go ahead and include them. This is rare, but certain job listings may request to see a photo of you or some other visual element. If you work in a field like modeling or acting, for example, recruiters usually won’t mind seeing a picture of your face on your resume.


If You Work in a Creative Industry

Visual elements like graphics and charts may also be recommended on resumes for creative professionals. Graphic design. Web design. Art. That kind of work is all about imagination and creativity. Therefore, recruiters in those industries tend to be more receptive to colorful or unusual resumes with graphics and pictures.


If You Know Your Resume Will Be Read by a Real Person

As explained above, many ATS programs will struggle to scan resumes with visual elements. So, if you’re not sure whether a company uses ATS, it’s best to avoid visuals. However, if you know for sure that your resume is going to be seen by a real person – and you feel that images or photos enhance it in some way – you can add some visuals to it.


Only Use Visuals in Exceptional Cases

Overall, the message from leading resume writers for executives in Colorado and other professionals is clear – in most cases, it’s best to keep your resume text-only. Visuals often add unnecessary risk. In the worst cases, they might lead to your resume getting rejected before it even passes in front of a recruiter’s eyes. This can make you have to wait much longer to get the job you want.


However, there are a few exceptional cases where visual elements are useful or even valuable additions to a resume. You might want to add a photo if you feel it’s relevant, as well as add graphs and charts. But, if you’re not totally sure, avoid adding any visuals when submitting your resume. You can always provide them later if the recruiter asks for them.

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