Finance professionals in Hong Kong and Singapore have long been fond of slapping a picture of themselves at the top of their CVs – recruiters say roughly half of resumes in the two cities include a photo. More recently, though, traditional CV headshots are making way for funky selfies that junior bankers think will make their applications stand out to recruiters.
What they don’t realise is that recruiters in Asia are no longer keen on seeing images of any ilk on CVs. At best, if your photo looks professional, recruiters will remove it before forwarding your resume to their banking clients. At worst, sending in a badly-taken selfie could get your application rejected. Recruiters won’t think you’re an innovative candidate just because you’ve managed some clever camera angles; they'll think you're a fool.
“Often the younger generation now put the same type of selfies into their CVs as they would on social media,” says Jaya Dass, country director at recruiters Randstad in Singapore. “It’s neither acceptable nor professional to include selfies – with skimpy attire, odd expressions or posture – within a casual or private setting like a bedroom or restaurant.”
Evelyn Lee, a director at LMA Recruitment in Singapore, adds: “In the worst cases, I’ve seen resumes with selfies where you can still see an extended arm in the shot, and party selfies obviously taken in a club, and ones taken while driving because you can see the car seatbelt on.”
“A candidate for a finance position in Singapore sent me a picture of her posing against a pole. I really didn’t know what to make of it,” says Ben Batten, country general manager of recruitment firm Volt in Singapore. “That’s the odd thing about many selfies and photos in CVs these days: more and more of them aren’t flattering. People in beach wear, wearing sunglasses, at a bar – how is this supposed to help a job application for a banking role?”
Vince Natteri, director of recruitment at search firm Pinpoint Asia in Hong Kong, says he recently saw a photo on a CV that “seemed like a prison mugshot”. “This guy was super well-built and looked like he meant serious business – hire me or else! His qualifications were great but before submitting his application to my client, I told him to remove the threating photo.”
Even if the picture on your CV isn’t intimidating, skimpy or otherwise inappropriate, it won’t help you get a banking job these days in Singapore or Hong Kong. An increasing number of recruiters in the Asian finance centres will remove all images from CVs as a matter of course. “This is because some employers are now flat-out rejecting receiving any resumes with photos from us, just to avoid potential accusations of discrimination,” says Dass from Randstad. “It’s illegal to consider factors like age, race, gender, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, or disability status in hiring decisions.”
“In an environment where rules are becoming tighter and employers are more sensitive to even the appearance of impropriety, a candidate can’t afford to send out a message that they should be hired because of their looks,” agrees Natteri.
“Employers in Hong Kong these days never actually request a photograph, so there’s no point including one,” adds a Hong Kong-based recruiter. “When we put a candidate’s CV into our in-house format, we never include a picture.”
Image credit: LeoPatrizi, Getty