If you spend any time at all reading opinions on job search and hiring, you'll often see "never send a picture along with your resume" treated as a hard and fast rule.

Among the many resumes my firm receives, occasionally some are paired with pictures. We've seen everything from self-portrait-style bar shots (on younger marketing resumes) to actors' head shots (especially for applicants in NYC and L.A.), to traditional, professional corporate portraits.

Arguments against including a picture with your resume range from legal ("Hiring managers want to avoid even the remotest possibility of a discrimination lawsuit") to traditional ("It just isn't done").

Certainly there are plenty of instances when including a picture with your resume can backfire. But to extrapolate from there to "never" is overkill.

A few times when it might actually be advantageous to put up your headshot on your CV:

1. You're applying for a job in the States, but for a foreign company - and you know the hiring manager is based in or from Europe. Companies in Europe love to see the person whom they are interviewing and are often confused when they call my firm as to the U.S. laws.

Every European resume we receive has a picture attached, sometimes right on the resume itself. European hiring managers making their first foray into U.S. hiring have asked us before about the lack of pictures on American resumes. This question hasn't been from ignorance: they grasp the concept of U.S. hiring discrimination laws. However the rest of the world prefers a picture because, frankly, it saves time.

Resumes of people relocating to the U.S. also come to us with birth dates, gender, marital and family status, nationality, and other statuses that are supposed to be taboo in U.S. hiring law. Taking those things into account, a picture of the person you're reading about suddenly seems less shocking.

This idea applies equally for U.S. firms, even if they can't admit it on paper. For instance, if you're a skateboarding company, you don't want someone to walk into the interview room in a three-piece suit. You know that you're not going to hire them due to there being a complete miss in fit between job seeker and corporate culture, as the rest of the employees interviewed with nose studs or tattoo sleeves.

2. Persuasion. If you look presentable, no matter other factors, the odds of you getting an interview and subsequent job offer are astronomically higher than someone who presents as if they just don't care about their appearance.

To the human eye, youth is a big persuasion factor and, bar none is more of a positive if done correctly. Though, done correctly does not mean a headshot taken at a bar with an iPhone.

"Youth" is a flexible term here, remember, and in this case is synonymous with the concept of driven, composed professionalism. You might be decades out of college, but if your picture projects the image of someone with poise, confidence, and alacrity, that's all that matters.

As for literal "youth," if you don't have much on your resume yet, I see no reason not to leverage what you do have to work with.

Of course, just because you shouldn't "never" use a picture, that doesn't translate to "always." When don't you send your picture in?

When applying to a really corporate position. About a year and a half ago, I was a finalist to be the Sales Career Guide for About.com and, quite excited to be in the running, I decided to lay out my vision to the editor.

I wanted to really change the way that the publication was marketed and, at that point I lost the job because corporate people sometimes don't like to stand out as the risk is far greater than the reward.

I don't agree, but then again, I am not on their payroll.

Another time not to send a picture is, of course, when a job ad or company's website specifically states not to. Just like breaking any other application rule (such as not including a cover letter, etc.), this will land your resume a one-way ticket to the trashcan.

Regarding Lawsuits

You must understand that the odds of a job applicant successfully suing a company are extremely low and our court system has to be 150% convinced to even hear the case, let alone award damages.

Google some cases and you'll find a few here and there, but they are from far worse situations.

No, I don't recommend practicing hiring discrimination and if you do it you do deserve to land in hot water, and if you do it often enough, some day you probably will.

But most job seekers just want to move on if they think that they are being discriminated against because it takes way too long to recruit an attorney, and the best payout you are likely to get is a year's salary -- which is cold comfort when you can never again find employment in that industry.

Companies don't like to hire litigious employees. This should not be a deterrent to putting a picture up.

But just as true and less dramatic is this: employees want to work in environments where they're a match as much as employers want to hire people who will get on well in a team.

In the end, assess each application and each company differently. Does the company's website feature pictures of its actual employees rather than stock photos? Is that company known for innovation in marketing, or major social media presence? Then go ahead and send a professional snapshot.

Is the company a Fortune 500 with global offices and an HR department that's bigger than most small businesses? Probably skip the picture -- but there's nothing wrong with adding a professional portrait to your LinkedIn profile and including the link on your resume.

Author's Bio: 

Ken Sundheim runs KAS Placement, an executive staffing firm that Ken started in 2005.

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Ken's articles have appeared in, among many others Forbes, NYTimes, USA Today and more.

KAS Placement is an executive recruitment agency.