Graphics or pictures normally have no place in resumés, because they add nothing to the information that employers are searching for, and the impressions they make are at least as likely to prejudice someone against you as they are to influence that person favorably.

Just as importantly, graphics can also cause file-handling problems in resumés that are transmitted electronically—and they can carry viruses as well, so files with graphics are sometimes rejected by e-mail security features. (If graphics are used in a Word resumé, it’s usually a good idea to have an alternate version without the graphics.)

For most resumés in the U.S., including a photograph of yourself is one of the worst mistakes you can make—employers in the U.S. may refuse to consider such resumés, for fear of a discrimination lawsuit. Of course they’ll see you if you do an interview, and they might see your picture if they check you out on the Web. But it’s different where the resumé is concerned. The resumé is the first thing they see, and they don’t want to be sued for making the first screening on the basis of things they can see in your photo. At later stages, they can defend themselves against discrimination charges by arguing that any rejection is based on what they’ve found out about your qualifications.

There are exceptions to the no-photos, no-graphics rule. A personal photo is okay in fields where one’s face is a recognized part of one’s stock in trade: modeling, acting, or perhaps for some salespeople who deal face-to-face with the public. Photos are also normal in international CVs. It’s only in the U.S. that there are legal reasons for not using them. Other sorts of graphics can occasionally be appropriate for artists or craftspeople, or as an element of business identity for freelancers and consultants.

I have the skills and equipment to do the job right, in the few cases where graphics really are appropriate. I’ve done many demanding Photoshop and Illustrator projects for leading corporations, ad agencies, and design studios.

But my policy, in general, is to strongly discourage the use of graphics. I reserve the right to refuse to handle graphics, either because they are inappropriate for a resumé, because they are unacceptable for technical reasons, or because they are or may be copyrighted.


Graphics projects are handled on a custom basis. My usual guidelines for turnaround time do not apply where graphics are included in the resumé. I must examine any art supplied by clients, either in electronic files or on paper, before I can say whether or not it is usable, and how much a project will cost. There is a non-refundable fee of $30, payable in advance, for testing & examination. If I find that the supplied art is usable, I’ll estimate the project. Once you approve the estimate and make your payment, I’ll proceed. Unless the art you send is usable as final art without modification, total project fees will usually range from one hundred to several hundred dollars.


Whether you’re doing resumés or whether you’re doing advertising for Fortune 500 companies, it is extremely common for art supplied by customers to be totally unusable, or usable only with extensive re-working. This applies to all kinds of art, whether meant for word-processor, typeset, or Web-page resumés. If I agree to review art supplied by you, be prepared to hear that the art you submitted is unusable, inappropriate, or requires extensive re-working. If anyone who claims to be a graphics professional disputes our judgment, I’m not interested in hearing about it. I’ve heard it all. And I’ve seen what happens when these experts are told, “Okay, you do it.” Feel free to tell them that.

Common problems include:

• Inadequate resolution of digital files (the image is too coarse). Images copied from a Web site are especially common problems in this regard. They cannot be used in pieces to be printed out, on either a desktop printer or a printing press. You can put them in the document, of course—but when printed, they’ll come out looking like something the dog left behind. They can only be used on Web sites, and, even there, cannot be changed in size or color, or altered in any way. (Images copied from a Web site may also be copyrighted, and I will not use any images that may be copyrighted.)

• Inadequate quality of physical art. Line art (logos and similar images) from printed pieces is often too coarse to produce a quality image when scanned; such art must be re-drawn from scratch. Photos from newspapers are also unsuitable for scanning; so are laser-printed photos. Large, high-quality magazine photos will probably be usable; other magazine photos may not. Photos from magazines and newspapers, however, are normally copyrighted, and I will not use any images that may be copyrighted.

• Unusable file format. Images created or saved with software other than professional graphics software are often unusable by other software. The following file formats are the only ones we can be sure are usable: .psd (Photoshop), .jpg (or .jpeg), .eps, .tif (or .tiff), .ai (Illustrator), Camera Raw. Files from digital cameras will usually be acceptable. Most other file formats are not acceptable. Files in acceptable formats that use, link to, or are based on files in unacceptable formats are usually not acceptable.

• Incomplete files: Files with placed art (linked to another art file) are unusable unless the original files for all placed art are sent along with the main art. Files with type are often unusable unless the font has been included with the art, or the type has been converted to art within the file. (Photographs of something that has lettering on it are no problem, of course.)

• Unsuitable image: Image uses fine detail that doesn’t show adequately at the small sizes needed for a project.

• Headshots that have inappropriate backgrounds, or are cropped too close. These will often require at least some reworking.

I am not responsible for physical artwork that is shipped to me.

I will not use any images that I know to be, or think may be, copyrighted. I will not use corporate logos, trademarks, or service marks unless the customer is an officer or designated affiliate of the corporation in question. I will not use images of people other than the person whose resumé I am producing.



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