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The application photo is an important part of your application documents. It gives your application a face as well as an individual and personal note. The photo is vital for the first impression. A good picture appears reputable and friendly at the same time.

The application photo is inserted into the CV or into the optional cover sheet. Even though an application photo is not mandatory, many employers prefer application documents with a photo. The photo has to match the position and appear professional. Whether a conventional or modern application photo is more suitable is depending on the sector. Clothes, body language, facial expression as well as the background, and the format of the photo are important details that determine the first impression.

In the following you will learn everything about:

Application photo yes or no

2. Tips for the perfect photo: Clothing choices, hairstyle, body language, and background

3. Size and format: Correct dimensions of the application photo Photos taken by professional photographers: Advantages, fees, and tips

4. Taking the application photo yourself: Tips for taking the photo yourself

5. Where to put the photo? On the cover sheet or in the CV?


Application photo yes or no?

The design of the CV and the application photo is what first catches the employer's eye. Even before reading the content of your application, they will have the first impression of you. Therefore, the application photo is crucial.

The application photo is optional. Regardless, it is common to include a photo. Applications without photos raise suspicions among recruiters. Therefore, applications without a photo are more likely to be rejected. However, the legal situation and conventions differ from country to country.


Tip: Insert the application photo

A photo in an application is not mandatory. This aims to prevent discrimination due to ethnicity, religion, or skin color and thus make for more equality.

However, employers usually prefer applications with a photo.

Especially in areas where the prospective employee has a lot of customer contact, a photo in the application is necessary. But also in other areas, the application photo gives an advantage. Use the photo to present yourself as a suitable applicant. A well-made application photo increases the chances of your application.

Tips for the perfect application photo

The ideal application photo:

- makes you look professional and likable
- fits the aspired position, the company, and the industry
- is authentic and shows your current appearance
- is of high quality

If the photo is professional and presents yourself appropriately, this can improve your job chances. Similarly, an improper photo can significantly reduce this. In the worst-case scenario, this leads to your application being rejected straight away.


- professional photo from a photographer 

- look straight at the camera   

- head-on photo, camera at eye level 

- positive body language     

- neat appearance     

- photo with suitable work clothes 

- neutral background     


- photo with low quality

- photo from a photo booth

- whole-body photo

 - tense facial expression and closed-off posture

 - unkempt appearance

- photo in casual clothes

- distracting background

Before inserting a photo into your application, think about the desired effect. Ask yourself: What impression do I want to make?

The quality of the photo, as well as your appearance, convey certain signals to the recruiter which can determine the success of your application. Therefore, pay special attention to the photo in order to enhance your application.

Authentic and professional

The application photo is professional and authentic. It portrays your personality and matches the position as well as the company. Don't pretend or dress up for the application photo. Employers instantly notice if the photo looks simulated or artificial.

Together with the rest of your application documents, the photo should convey a coherent idea of you. Employers are not looking for an employee with "perfect" looks but an authentic applicant who fits the position as well as the company.

Holiday photos, cut-outs from group shots, selfies with Instagram filters, or snapshots from a photo booth are a no-no.

1. Download a template

Click on the desired template. We will send it directly to your computer via e-mail. Within five minutes you can start writing your application.

3. Send the application

Once you added your content the application is finished. Now, you can save it as a PDF or print it out and send it to the employer.

2. Add content in Word

Install the designer fonts with just one click and open the template in Word. Now, you add your individual content to the finished layout.

Caution: Up-to-date photo

The application photo should not be older than one year. If your photo deviates significantly from your appearance, e.g. you have different hair color or are noticeably older, it does not leave a good impression.

Clothes and styling

Your personal appearance greatly influences the first impression. Therefore it is important, to think about your clothes and styling in order to send the correct signals.


Which kind of clothes you wear for the application photo, depends on the desired sector, position, and personality. Choose clothing that matches the company's dress code or clothes that you would wear for an interview.

In traditional sectors, a white button-down shirt, as well as a suit rather than a white blouse and a blazer, are part of the work clothes. Resign from wearing garish and gaudy colors and choose clothes in classical, dark shades. A tie looks conservative. Make sure that the shirt is buttoned up.

In modern companies and in creative sectors, however, it is possible to wear casual clothes. How much you can deviate from the conventions depends on the aim of the profession.

Colors are allowed in your clothing, by all means. However, more than three different colors look chaotic. Choose discreet, coordinated colors.

Make sure that the clothes are clean and tidy. It is important to leave a neat impression. The photographer can also advise which clothes leave a good impression. It is best to bring several outfits to the photo session.

Caution: Clothes with fine patterns

Clothes with small patterns such as squares, stripes, or dots can cause the camera to create contortion in the photo (Moiré effect). This significantly reduces the quality of the photo. Usually, the Moiré effects can be removed digitally afterward but they will cause additional work for the photographer. Wear simples clothes to avoid this effect. The photographer will be able to advise if the clothes you are wearing are suitable.

Tip: Showing skin improves the chances of your application

Studies conducted by Sevag Kertechian from the Sorbonne in Paris have shown that women who show cleavage in the application photo have better chances. They have been invited to interviews 19 times more often than their fellow applicants with buttoned-up blouses.

This applies to both modern as well as conservative sectors. However, the studies do not indicate whether the applications were reviewed by women or men.

You can show a bit of skin in your application photo if you want. However, shoulder-free tops, revealing clothes as well as a plunging neckline are still not recommended.

According to a study by the University of Pennsylvania, men with a bald head appear more manly, self-assured, dominant, and successful. Simultaneously, they are assessed to be older and more down-to-earth. This can have a positive influence on the chances of the application.

A bald patch, on the other hand, has the opposite effect: men with a bald patch have been assessed to be weaker and less attractive.


Subtle make-up is advisable for the application photo. Gaudy lipstick and colorful eyeshadow are out of place in the application photo unless you are applying for a very creative sector.

It is important that the make-up matches the skin tone and is applied evenly, to avoid make-up edges. Pay special attention that there is no color difference between face and neck.

Men can also give a better impression with make-up in their application photos. Not only can it hide blemishes, redness, dark circles, and shiny areas but also highlight cheekbones and jawline.

Jewelry and accessories

Jewelry and accessories emphasize your personal style. They shouldn't distract from your face though. If jewelry is not wanted in the sector, you shouldn't wear it.

Cover tattoos and remove any piercings for the photo. This way you are on the safe side. Unless, of course, you are applying at a piercing and tattoo studio.

Haircut and shave

Your hair is especially important for the first impression. Not only the color but also the texture and styling play a role. The preferences from the recruiters can vary greatly in regards to that. They also depend on the sector and the position.

Generally, applicants with typically male attributes have the best job opportunities, regardless of their gender. The sociologist Anke von Rennenkampff found that out.

According to a study conducted by Yale University, women with short hair appear intelligent and self-confident. Women, who wear their hair tied up, appear more professional as well as competent, according to experts. On the other hand, applicants with long, loose hair can be perceived as naive and insecure.

Especially for management positions, hair that is tied up leaves the best impression.

Men should make sure that their hair looks well-groomed. The beard should be trimmed or clean-shaven.

Caution: Men with long hair

Long hair on men is still seen as unconventional. Longer hair can be classified as inappropriate. Especially in conservative sectors, short hair is often favored.

Caution: Coloured hair and unconventional haircuts

Gaudy colors and unusual haircuts present yourself as a creative and unconventional applicant. In modern companies or artistic occupational areas, this can be a big advantage.


On the contrary, in conservative sectors or positions with a lot of customer contact, this can lead to immediate rejection.

Tip: Conform with the team


Your body language conveys certain characteristics. Use the photo to present yourself as a friendly, open-minded, and professional employee.


Face and shoulders are visible in the application photo. So your posture and facial expression are important. Focus on those and skillfully present them in the best possible way.


- upright posture     

- slightly sloping upper body  

- look straight ahead       

- look straight at the camera    

- slight smile   

- photo with suitable work clothes 

- arms casually crossed or hanging     


- rigid posture

- slumped or pulled up shoulders

- face not completely visible  

- avoid eye contact 

- exaggerated laugh or tight facial expression

- photo in casual clothes

- lean on something, hands on your face

Caution: Suitable facial expression

A friendly and legitimate smile is most convincing. Only in a few cases is a tight facial expression better suited. This matches higher positions better, for example, management positions.

Practice your facial expression before the photo session. This way the photo will turn out better.

In regards to your posture, even small details like the angle at which you tilt your head or how wide your smile makes a difference. How recruiters perceive those body signals can be very different as well. The photographer will help you adapt to a suitable posture.


The background of the photo does not distract from your person. This can be plain background or something related to the profession. Avoid background that attracts attention like colorful wallpaper, pieces of furniture, other people, or beach settings

For a studio shot, a neutral background is chosen. In the best case, the background harmonizes with the clothes of the applicant. Taking photos outside is also a possibility as long as they are not too unsettled. On the whole, the photo should appear harmonious and match the desired position.

Traditional vs. modern photo

A photo gives you the opportunity to present your personality. How much your application photo can differ from conventions, however, depends on the occupational area.

Especially in conservative sectors, the application photo should be conventional as well. For higher positions, like e.g. in banking or in management, a classical application photo should be used.

As an applicant in creative areas or modern companies, you have more freedom. Depending on the sector, your clothes, facial expression, posture, and also the background can differ from the "classical" application photo.

With a conventional photo you are always on the safe side but with a modern photo you stand out more. Which type of photo is suitable depends on the sector and your personality. The photographer can give you advice on that.

Tip: Use different photos

If you are applying for different positions with varying conventions, use different application photos.

Depending on what kind of impression you want to make, you can use different clothes, change the background or adapt different postures for the photo.

Size and format

Not only what is shown in the photo but also the format and quality of the photo can determine the success of the application. Make sure that your application photo is a high-quality photo in the correct format and suitable resolution.

Application photos are normally 2:3 or 5:7 format. The standard sixes for application photos are:

4 x 6 cm (passport photo)
5 x 7 cm
9 x 6 cm
6.5 x 6.5 cm
9 x9 cm

If you have a suitable photo in the wrong format, try to digitally edit it. Scan the photo and then select a section of the photo in the desired format.

A larger photo is better suited for the cover sheet, a smaller one for the CV. Portrait photos are the standard format. Generally, landscape format, as well as square photos, are possible as well if they match the design of the CV or cover sheet.

If the photo is in black and white or color is a matter of taste. On principle, black and white photos appear more elegant. Colored photos often appear more authentic and friendlier, too colorful photos, however, look unprofessional.

Nowadays it is common that you receive the selected photos in digital format. These can easily be used for e-mail applications. For online applications, photos have a resolution of at least 300 dpi and are a maximum of 800 pixels wide.

Caution: The resolution of the photo is too high

Make sure that the photo is no wider than 800 pixels. Especially for online applications, applicants tend to send files that are too big. To make sure that your application file is not bigger than 3 MB, use free online tools to adjust the size of the photo.

Professional photo from a photographer

The perfect application photo is taken by a photographer with a professional camera in a photo studio. The photographer has the best technical equipment for the photo, knows what is important, and can cater to your requests.

These are other advantages of a professional shooting:

- The photographer asks about the position you are aiming for and gives you advice in     regards to style and clothes
- The photographer creates a relaxed atmosphere
- The photo studio has the ideal lighting and suitable background for the photo
- The photographer helps you strike a suitable pose and knows how to put you in the          perfect light
- You can choose from several photos and have different options
- Photos are being professionally edited and retouched
- Photos are always printed in the correct size and format

Let the photographer show you some examples in order to see different scopes for design. This way you also get an insight into the skills and merits of the photographer.

Tip: Have several photos taken

Have photos taken in different positions, outfits, and from different angles and select several suitable application photos. The photographer can help picking the best photos.

Shooting with different backgrounds, outfits and a selection of photos has its price. Professional application photos can cost between 50 and 100 euros. Online voucher websites such as Groupon often have low-priced offers for photo shooting starting from 20 euros in bigger cities. Many studios offer packages that include guidance and styling as well as photo editing.

A professional application photo is a good investment for the future. Recruiters immediately recognize unprofessional photos.

Even though unsuitable application photos do not always lead to immediate rejections, professional photos still leave a better impression. With those, you show that you made an effort with your application.

Taking the photo by yourself: This is how it works!

It is possible to take the application photo yourself. However, a self-made photo should also be of the highest possible quality. A selfie is not a suitable photo for an application. It can lead to you being rejected instantly.

With the right equipment, some preparation, skill and patience, you can take a suitable application photo with your own camera in your own apartment. Just like with the photographer, you should make sure to have an appealing appearance.

If you take the photo yourself, consider the
following tips:

- Use a high-resolution digital camera (e.g. SLR camera or a very good smartphone camera) with a resolution of at least 12 megapixel
- Use a tripod and automatic release or ask a second person to take the photo
- Position yourself approx. 50 cm in front of a neutral, bright background (e.g. wall or curtain)
- Make sure you have even lighting (e.g. by pointing a lamp directly at you or by positioning two lamps to the left and right of you)
- Use natural daylight and take the photo as close to the window as possible
- Experiment with flash and camera settings
- Export your photo to your computer where you can edit and crop it

Tip: Make an appointment insufficient time

Respectable photo studios require an appointment. The photo shooting can last up to an hour and the editing of the photos takes a couple of days.

Remember to allow for that time period when preparing your application.

Tip: Ask a second person for help

Do you have friends or family who can handle a camera? Ask them to take the photo for you.

This person can also give you feedback on the photos and suggest improvements.

It requires patience to take a good photo of yourself. Bets take several photos with different settings. Try different places in your apartment and adopt different postures. You can then select the best photo from all the ones you have taken. Pay special attention to details that can instantly expose your photo as unprofessional:

- The photo has been taken with the arm or a selfie stick
- Angle set too low or too high
- Objects in the background
- Shadows on the face, the upper body, or the wall
- Leaning against a wall (resulting in no depth of focus)
- Bad quality of the photo (e.g.. blurry, skewed)

If you have taken a suitable photo, it might need to be reworked and brought into the right proportion. If you're not familiar with photo editing, ask another person to edit the photo for you. This way, you can also digitally remove small imperfections such as unwanted shadows or blemishes.

Caution: Don't overdo the photo editing

It can be tempting to edit the photo too much or to even change the face's or body's proportions. You should not do that as unprofessional photo editing immediately catches the recruiter's eye.

Position of the application photo

Typically, the application photo is integrated into the CV. It is less common to use a cover sheet. In case you do use a cover sheet, add your application photo there and leave it out of the CV.

In the CV, the application photo is added on the first page and positioned with the personal data before the first section. Whether on the left or the right depends on your posture: The applicant is always facing the page.

If you send a classic paper application, use a paper clip a glue stick to attach the application photo. If you use a paper clip, you can reuse the photo in case you get your application documents back.

When applying online, add the photo with a word processing program such as MS Word. In order to do this, scan the photo first, in case you do not have a digital copy already.

Samples and templates

Our samples and templates offer a quick start for the application. The templates already have an appealing design and contain all necessary sections. All templates can be edited with MS Word and are completely adaptable.

Choose a design that matches your pursued position and your personality and add your information. In order to give you inspiration, we have additionally included phrasing assistance.

Tip: Choose a design that fits the profession

Studies show that the design of your application determines the important first impression. Therefore, both content as well as format should be convincing.

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