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JOB APPLICATION PHOTO: Tips & Examples Of Serious Applications

Job Application Photo: Tips & Examples of Serious Applications

Numerous myths and legends surround the job application photo. After all, a picture says more than a thousand words and there is no second chance for the first impression. The look of the employee on the job application photo can therefore already be the first decisive factor for the chances of success. The good news, however, is that good and professional job application photos are not rocket science. If you have some basic rules and understand the impact of the job application photo with the HR manager, nothing stands in the way of the perfect photo in your documents. We answer the most important questions about job application photos and give you many examples and tips ...



The most important basics to the job application photo


The application photo is often discussed. Is it still up to date? Shouldn't it be completely abandoned? Although the number of companies that do without application photos is increasing - in general, the application photo is still standing and is, therefore, an integral part of almost all application documents.


The application photo aims to create an optimal impression at first glance: you want to show that you fit the desired position. Submit subtly through the photo, you are already an employee of the company, increase the application opportunities noticeably. A conservative application portrait is thus less suitable for a creative profession and vice versa.


Please do not misunderstand this: the application form is neither about costuming nor about a theatrical staging, but an overall harmonious picture - in the double sense of the word.


The perfect application photo begins with the subtleties and details that every viewer perceives at least subliminally and yet have a great influence on their effect. For example, whether you smile on the application form or not. This can make a huge difference, as the following two examples clearly show:


Without smile vs. Smile

On the right side, the applicant looks immediately sympathetic and open-minded.


So when you take application photos, you should always keep an important question in mind: What impression do I want to leave? This should always be adapted to the respective desired position and the company. It may, therefore, make sense to not just make a single application photo and use it for all applications but to have several versions at hand when the potential employers or positions differ.


Another principle, however, is that your application photo should always be authentic and up-to-date. Who presents something in the picture, what he is not at all, seems implausible, put on and simply wrong.


Fischer & Partners Checklist

FAQ: Frequently asked questions and answers about application photos


The application photo is a regular trigger of uncertainty and many questions. We took this as an opportunity to put together a small FAQ with the most frequently asked questions about application photos for you:



  • Is an application photo obligatory?


The clear answer is no, it is not!  The application photo is not a compulsory part of an application. In practice, however, not much has changed. Some companies actually do without it, and they also do so in job advertisements, but most employers still prefer inserting application photos - check out the expert opinions later in the article.



  • What quality should application photos have?


You can not say it often enough: The application photo should not come from a vending machine, from leisure or vacation. This always looks cheap and devaluates you at first glance. It sets the wrong signal because it only documents that you are not even ready to invest in your future. And what could be more important?


For some, this point is self-evident, but human resources get presented again and again the strangest application photos, where you can only shake his head.


Therefore, let such a portrait photo (never full-body shots!) always made by a photographer or a professional. But please show examples beforehand.


Some photographers try to sell their art. They may look good if you enlarge the photos to a meter and hang them on the wall. For the application, however, they are just as unsuitable as felt-tip pens for online forms.



  • Which size should the application photo have?


Today's formats vary between 6 by 4 or 9 by 6 inches. The larger format is particularly suitable if you place your application photo on the cover sheet and take up a larger space there. Both sizes correspond to the so-called golden section and therefore look very nice.


The portrait is the rule, but with landscape mode, you will notice more - but only if you choose the excerpt of the application photo skillfully and if the format of the application photo of course also fits the design and layout of the application documents. If you are not sure, you should consult a professional.



  • Are application photos colorful or black and white?


Colored or black and white? This is ultimately a matter of taste. Monochrome images usually look more elegant, but can also look contrived. Besides, the contours come more into the foreground here. That flatters rather flat faces.


On the other hand, anyone who has an edgy counterpart often feels even harder. Here are color photos the better choice. They are usually more authentic and natural, but depending on the lighting but also jarring. That's why it's important to have a pro take the pictures.


For color photos, you must also pay attention to the right choice of clothes. So on muted and harmonious colors that match your type and the overall ensemble and the background. Black and white photos, on the other hand, are more about form and contrast. If you have the budget, you should have both variants made and then ask friends, which alternative they find sympathetic and professional.



  • Is jewelry allowed on application photos?


There is nothing wrong with wearing jewelry on the application photo, but this should only be very subtle and never be in the foreground. If the first thought when looking at a photo is WOW, but these are big earrings, the jewelry may spoil an otherwise harmonious image and the good impression.


The situation is similar with make-up. A little make-up helps to look good on the application photo, to present even skin and to put you in the best light. But you should not overdo it. For jewelry and make-up, you can discreetly support your look and feel, but should never seem intrusive.



  • Where is the application photo inserted?


Those who integrate the deductions into their application folder should insert the photo directly on the first sheet of the CV - above the first line.


Whether right or left depends on which direction the nose is pointing. The rule of thumb: always look into the page, never out! If you are using a cover page or a so-called third page, the application photo will be included there. Here are two examples:

Glue your photo to the CV or cover letter
  • How are application photos attached?


The application photo is attached with a glue stick, not with a paperclip! This looks ugly and looks like you wanted to use the photo again later.


But this message must never convey an application: I am a mass consignment that may be recycled. Those who digitally integrate the photo into the CV should pay attention to two things:


1. choose the highest possible resolution so that the pressure gets better and use photo paper as high-quality paper. Otherwise, you might as well send in a photocopy. And that would be counterproductive for the reasons already mentioned. Their high professional qualification and quality of work should finally be reflected in the photo.


2. If the application image is affixed, please always note your name on the reverse side. Should the photo accidentally be removed from the application, it can easily be reassigned.



  • How extraordinary may a candid photo be?


If the application photo is to fit the job, are in creative professions or very modern employers standard application photos appropriate or is it better to resort to more unusual images - such as unusual cuts, positions or backgrounds?


Quite clearly, this can hardly be answered, it also depends on what you want to do with the application photo. However: The application photo must fit the rest - so especially to the design and layout of the CV. If it is rather classic-simple, an exceptional application photo looks quickly affected. It is literally out of the ordinary.


Extraordinary pictures, therefore, remain a stylistic device that can be used in principle - but only consciously and wisely. Again, the iron law of design applies: Form follows function. If the picture supports the overall design - great. But never incorporate such photos for their own sake. That is then pure showmanship - and rarely seems reputable.



Quick checklist for application photos


  • Do I have eye contact with the viewer?

  • Do I show an open smile?

  • Is the face well lit and easy to recognize?

  • Does the hair sit?

  • Does the skin have a natural tone?

  • Are the clothes chosen to match the job?

  • Throw a shirt, blouse, and jacket no ugly wrinkles?

  • Is the background calm and neutral?

  • Is the head slightly tilted dynamically?

  • Is the body inclined to the viewer?



Examples of application photos


Negative examples: So please do not!

Negative Examples
Negative Examples

Positive examples: how it works!

Positive Examples
Positive Examples

Tips: Look out for the application photo


Now that you have seen a few examples, now to the details and how to optimally position yourself as a candidate. If you follow the tips below, your application photos will be a success:


  • Choose the right image detail


The perfect application photo shows you in the so-called half-portrait, so especially your face and your shoulder a little bit, but this maximum should take a fifth of the photo. The head can be directed to the front of the camera, but a slightly laterally turned head often looks more natural and makes a better impression. Here it is advisable to find out the perfect angle together with the photographer.


Since the face is in the foreground when half portrait, a little powder should be used so that it does not shine too much in the application photo.



  • Wear suitable clothing for the application photo


The first rule: the clothing on the application photo should fit the desired job. For example, if you are a banker, you should look like a banker in the photo. If you want to do it perfectly, you can visit the destination company incognito and look at the dress code there.


It's a bit easier if you look at the photos of employees in online networks like Linkedin and then adapt the look for the application photo. With a suitable business outfit, you can rarely do anything wrong. For men, this means a suit in dark colors with a matching shirt, if desired, a tie. Women are well dressed in a dark trouser suit combined with a light blouse.


However, there is also faux pas that you should avoid when clothing on the application photo: Women should not wear off-shoulder tops or too low cutouts. For men, shirts with short arms are an absolute no go. For both sexes, patchy or wrinkled clothes are a taboo for application photos.



  • Pay attention to your hair and hairstyle


Whether you are an applicant or a candidate, with attributes that are considered typically male, candidates have a better chance of getting a job. This is even more true for women than for men.


With back-combed or raised hair, the HR specialists placed far more leadership skills on applicants than those with open whorls. Compare for yourself the different effects:

Application Hairstyles: How they work

In any case, it is important that the hairstyle is neat, that the hair is well combed and that the mane does not stick out in all directions. Therefore, a visit from the hairdresser of trust does not harm you before you have an appointment with the photographer to take your application photos.



  • Work on your facial expression


Some applicants find it very easy to immediately present a natural, sympathetic and professional expression on application photos. Others are much harder. However, their charisma on the picture determines how it works and how it reaches the personal.


Therefore, practice in advance and work on your facial expression. An authentic smile with an open and direct view of the camera sounds easy but may require some experimentation. Have some pictures taken by friends or partner at home to understand how different facial expressions work and find a suitable one to enhance your application photos. Also, experiment with different head postures and perspectives. Even a slight tilt or twist can completely change the look of your profile.


An old photographer's tip: pinch your eyes very easily, so kneel or blink. The lower eyelids are lifted slightly. So the look immediately looks more interesting and captivating. Fashion models use this trick regularly, but he also needs some practice until it looks natural.



  • Think of a suitable background


Unfortunately, the layman is often forgotten. But he decides enormously about the overall effect of the application photo. If, for example, the background motif, contrast or colors are chosen incorrectly, it puts the applicant in oblique light.


It should be a neutral, solid background that matches the rest of the picture. Ideally, therefore, the wall color harmonizes with the clothes (in color photos) and the lighting does not throw any ugly shadows (very important in black and white shots!). If the contrast is again too high (chalky white background), faces quickly appear pale and sick.


While this is a photographer's job and professionals have a good eye for it, you should take a look at the background as you select your application photos.



Expert Opinions: What recruiters say to the application photo


4 out of 5 people prefer applications with a photo - still.


In our employer check, we regularly interview people who look out for candidates. This includes the application photo. Here are a few excerpts of the answers:


"If a photo is attached, this should have been done by a photographer and not a private photo on the beach or in the living room. If in doubt, a black and white photo is preferable to the colorful one."


"A photo completes the impression but does not affect our decision either positively or negatively. Since application documents will be printed at the latest for the interview, I recommend black and white. This saves resources and usually looks even better. "


"We are looking forward to a photo because it completes an application and gives it a face."


"The quality of the photos is crucial. Whether colored or black and white is a matter of taste. It is much more important than the picture was taken by a professional photographer and not from the vending machine or the last summer vacation. "



Perfect application photos with the right photographer


In no case, you should do the application photo yourself - unless of course, you are a photographer. Otherwise, whether in the photo booth or at home: finger away! The quality of a professional application photo will never reach you. HR professionals see this (just like everyone else), and you just show that you're not ready to invest in your profile.


The selection of photographers offering the perfect application photo is huge in every city. To help you find a good photographer for your application photo, there are a few things to keep in mind:



  • A good photographer has experience in the field


Take a look at his work and study the website of the application photographer. This will give you an idea of what the result might look like. But the patterns should be application photos - no send cards of photo models or wedding photos! You will notice immediately whether you like the pictures or not.



  • A good photographer will suggest a shoot


Do not just go in and sit on a stool for five minutes, so let the pictures of themselves. Take the time for a proper application shoot. In this way, you can take pictures in different poses and with different backgrounds.



  • A good photographer will ask for position and industry


Depending on which industry you apply for, the images should sometimes be less conservative. If the photographer knows which position you are applying for, he can advise you on the posture and the right pose. You may also look at the target company's website together to match the color mood of your images.



  •  A good photographer discusses the outfit and make-up with you


He can advise you on what works well on the pictures and emphasizes your charisma. You can bring several outfits and decide together in which you want to be photographed. He also gives you tips on whether your hair will fall beautifully and your skin looks even and no dark circles or impurities are visible.



  • A good photographer takes away your fear


Most photographers are very affable people who understand how to lighten the mood. That's why the photographer should be personable and even make you laugh. If you feel comfortable in his presence, you will also appear less nervous in the pictures.



  • A good photographer deals with the costs


A professional shoot for application photos takes more time than just snapping a few pictures. The investment is worthwhile and a good photographer will discuss the costs with you in advance. It informs you about what expenses you have to expect, what individual pictures cost or which packages are offered.



  • Beware of the application photo: Note the image rights


Application photo- most understand your craft, but you should make sure that you not only print the photos, but that you also keep a digital version (jpg, png, tiff) and the photographer gives you the permanent unrestricted right to publish.



This is the only way for you to have the right to use the new application photo everywhere. And that has many advantages: Use the current application photo on all relevant online platforms such as, Linkedin, Twitter or on your blog. They create a high recognition value and something like brand identity. Besides, the staff member gets the impression that your appearance - both online and offline - overall is consistent and professional.


If you do not have this right to publish, the image rights for portraits remain the author's copyright. You may then use it for the intended purpose in your application documents, but not publicly on the Internet on your profiles.