It is not allowed, you know, to require photos from job applicants in the UK. CVs arrive as faceless email attachments. There was even talk, a while back and possibly still ongoing, of making applications completely anonymous, removing the name in bold across the top as well – leaving the person represented only by a bald list of spectacular achievements.
Since moving to Germany three years ago our little twins have kept me too busy to be applying for jobs. But now times are changing and I am ready to move, at least part of my day, away from changing tables and back towards tall metal filing cabinets. So I find one interesting job online and casually follow their application procedure. CV uploaded, I am suddenly required to upload a photo too. Surprised, I browse my snapshots and find a reasonably serious-looking one of me at a London tube station on my way to work – my clothes are smart at least, even if the background is somewhat distracting.
Later, I recall the incident to my husband, who tells me having a headshot photo on your CV is an absolute must in Germany. Organising that, he says, should be the next, prioritised step on my road to employment here – any job hunting until then is futile. I am slightly perturbed: I had got used to my faceless CV with its font and format suggesting more, perhaps, of my meticulous, professional traits than my neat ponytail and straight teeth.
I am loathe to say which system is fairer; though, in all honesty, I like the thought that my achievements are the first things that people see. I suppose you could say that a face on a CV only forestalls the process which inevitably occurs at interview, when some people show up in a suit and others do not: for all that people say, first impressions do, irrevocably, make a difference. Perhaps I just need time to get used to the idea, and when my cheerful airbrushed face beams out of a glossy photo, I will be swayed to think another way. Until then, I am reserving judgement, and making an appointment at the photographers down the road, where smart business people smile down at you with power, proven leadership and unsurpassed motivation as you walk by.