8 things to remember when you include your resume photo

Teacher taking photo for Korean resume

ESL teacher taking photo for job application

8 things to remember when you include your resume photo

If you’re still searching for an ESL teaching job you’ve probably noticed it’s getting really competitive in the ESL market… especially for the “premium” jobs.

Years ago I got some good advice from veteran ESL recruiter.

It went like this…

Career experts in western countries will often advise jobs seekers that they should NEVER put a photo on their resumes.

That’s all fine and good if you’re applying for a 9-5 job back home where an HR professional schooled in the latest human resources policies probably won’t discriminate you.

But your overseas ESL employer doesn’t play by the same rules. Not a chance! Do yourself a favour and ignore the HR advice back home.

If you want to teach in countries like Korea, Japan, China, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, or the Middle East… NOT including a photo of yourself will pretty much kill your chances of getting hired.

Did you know that including a “professional” photo of yourself with your resume can increase your chances of standing out among the crowd by 10X?

Here’s why:


  • We live in a visual, multimedia communications age.Photos and videos are everywhere. Text Seldom Gets Read!
  • People post selfies on their Facebook pages and Twitter accounts.
  • If you have a LinkedIn account your profile is incomplete without a professional photo of yourself.
  • If you’re a travel blogger you’d be foolish NOT to include a photo in your bio about yourself so readers can connect with you on a personal level. They feel like they can put a face to your blog.
  • People can’t resist clicking on YouTube video links that go viral.
  • Online news websites always include compelling photos with their stories to capture the attention of readers and get “clicks and social shares”
  • The best recipe blogs include amazing photos of delicious foods that draw readers in instantly.
  • The EXPLOSIVE growth of Pinterest, Instagram…

Get the picture?


You’re going to be asked for your photo once you read the job description and requirements so why delay the inevitable?Here are some recent job ads I recently pulled from EFL job boards. Notice what I’ve highlighted in red..

Job Ad in Korea

Please visit our website to learn more about Myung Dahm and read testimonials from current and former instructors. You can also apply directly on our website or email your resume and photo to… A representative will contact you to initiate the application process.

Job Ad in China

Send your CV with recent photo, application letter to….

Job Ad in Saudi Arabia

Please attach the follow documentation:
1. Updated C.V.
2. Recent passport photo.
3. Scan copy of your passport (should include information and photo).

Failure to include a good quality photo and you’ll probably never hear from them again….


Why do recruiters always request a SKYPE interview and not just do a phone interview with you?

They want to see what you look like, do you dress professionally and most importantly, are you presentable in the classroom?

Remember: your image (during the interview stage) is A LOT more important in landing you the job than your qualifications like education or teaching experience.


Over the years, I’ve seen the most ridiculous photos of teachers in resumes.

The worst ever was one of a teacher drinking a beer (looked like his 5th beer judging by all the empty bottles on the table….

His car keys were also sitting on the table next to him. I wonder if he ever got to set foot in a classroom, anywhere… with that awful pic!


1. Don’t wear a hat
2. Hide your tattoos (if you have them)
3. Take out any nose, ear or mouth piercings (if you have them)
4. Take a head and shoulders shot NOT a full body shot
5. Have someone take the picture for you (no selfies please)
6. Don’t include your students or friends in your picture
7. Take a recent picture and in colour

8. Don’t forget to smile! It’s not a mug shot or a passport photo.


Recruiters (especially in Asian countries) are bombarded every day as they walk down city streets full of advertising and they sit in front of banner ads popping out of their computers.They live in a crowded, busy world. It takes ALOT to get their attention.

So, when you’re crafting your resume, think AIDA.

AIDA stands for: Attention, Interest, Decision Action.

AIDA is a well know marketing strategy. You need to do the same with your resume to get the attention of recruiters. Adding your photo to your resume fills in that first piece of the AIDA personal marketing formula.

Attention – Your photo goes here

Interest – A compelling email subject line (upcoming email)

Decision – Your resume structure and content (upcoming email)

Action – The Skype Interview (upcoming email)

There you have it…

I encourage you to put these 8 photo tips into action today

If you do, you’ll be far ahead of 80% of your teacher competition, who continue to upload crappy photos, or don’t upload photos at all!

All the best to you! Cheers!


Leave a Reply