Using a photo in a freelance translator CV
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Using a photo in a freelance translator CV

Last week I was sending out my updated translator CV to some agencies. To prepare the updated version of my CV I used Marta Stelmaszak ebook called You need a CV that works. And while Marta provides exhaustive information on almost all aspects of CV writing, including tips on what sections to include, what language to use and how to make your CV stand out from the point of view of design, there was one thing I couldn’t make up my mind about after working through the ebook and that was whether to use a photo in my CV or not.


So I decided to ask my colleagues on Twitter to share their experience and since this question lead to an interesting discussion, I decided to sum it all up in this blog post.


The majority of the translators who took part in the conversation don’t use photos in their CVs. Since they are based both in the US and in different EU countries, I would say that this trend is gaining popularity.


The main reason why translators prefer not to use photos in their CVs is because they are easy to find on their websites or online profiles.


And the clients won’t even have to do the search, if you make an interactive CV in the PDF format and include all the necessary links, as Lydia suggests:


Another reason not to include a photo in your CV mentioned by several translators is that it helps to avoid discrimination:


Finally, opting not to include your photo in the CV you won’t be running the risk of violating any cultural norms.


This is definitely a good thing, because these norms can be quite tricky to figure out in the first place:


Besides they are subject to change under the influence of current trends in the society:


Those who prefer to include their photos into the CVs name being more personal as the main reason to do it:


It turns out, even some agency representatives from the UK share this point of view:


Another great reason to include a photo in your CV is that it helps to prevent identity theft:


But what if you don’t want to include the photo so that you won’t come across as someone who doesn’t respect cultural norms, but still want to lay a foundation for a personal relationship with your potential customer? You can send a brochure instead of a CV, says Andrea Alvisi, who picked up this piece of advice from a workshop with Judy Jenner:


You can send a printed brochure or a digital one as an attachment. But keep in mind that this is something that works with direct clients.


So to sum it all up, including a photo in your CV is not a widely used practice among translators. The main reasons for this are:


  • Availability of websites and online profiles where everyone who’s interested can see your photo
  • Different standards in different countries that are not so easy to figure out and can change anytime
  • Discrimination issues being one of the things that is paid close attention to at the moment


However, there are some obvious advantages of using a photo in your resume, too:


  • A photo might help you build more personal relationships with your customer, showing a real person behind all the credentials, as Dmytro Rachek so beautifully put it.
  • It helps to prevent identity theft
  • Some agencies actually recommend doing it (although, it looks like they are in the minority, but still)


As for me, the updated version of my CV does include a photo. Since there is no one opinion on this issue even in the UK, I decided to give it a try (I will obviously prepare a CV without a photo when I apply to agencies who have definitely spoken against including a picture, though). I also share the opinion that it might help you build better, more personal relationships with your prospects. And since not many translators seem to do it, it’s a good way to get noticed.


I want to thank everyone who joined the conversation! It was so much fun and hopefully our discussion will help translators to decide whether or not to include their photos in the CVs. A huge thank you to everyone I already mentioned above and also to Alina Cincan, Maëlys De Santis and Judy Jenner for joining in!


If you want to learn more about building a CV you can check out the links below:


You need a CV that works by Marta Stelmaszak


How to write a job winning resume for a freelance translator by Simon Akhrameev


Employment Part 2 by Atlas Translations


What does the perfect translator CV look like? on the Adventures in Technical Translation blog


What about you? Are you for or against using a photo in the CV? Do you know any other useful resources for writing CVs I should mention? As always, I’m looking forward to your comments.



Photo courtesy of Kaboompics


  • Simon Akhrameev

    20.01.2016 at 06:16 Reply

    Elena, thanks for the survey and valuable data provided herein! It seems that I have to develop another version of CV to take into account cultural differences of the target audience.
    Also thank you for mentioning my post. I appreciate that.

    • Elena

      20.01.2016 at 11:49 Reply

      Thank you for taking part, Simon! I agree that having several versions of CV is a good idea.

  • Dennis Brown

    21.01.2016 at 01:48 Reply

    Elena, that was a nice idea to canvas opinions, and you’ve provided a neat summary. This is a very useful post.

    • Elena

      22.01.2016 at 23:23 Reply

      Thank you, Dennis! I thought that the information provided by everyone was too useful to let it sink somewhere in the depths of Twitter. 🙂

  • Hanna Sles

    13.03.2017 at 10:11 Reply

    Thanks for sharing, Elena! Love the examples and great points about advantages and disadvantages of using a photo in the CV.
    I wanted to add a little bit more. From my experience, career experts prefer getting CVs without a photo on a resume. They say, it’s illegal to consider factors like age, race, gender, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, or disability status in hiring decisions.
    Besides that, on the first stage of hiring, recruiters want to know if your translation services are going to be a good fit for them or not. The shorthand they use for this is by looking for keywords in your resume that match their job description, rather than staring at the photos.

    • Elena

      20.03.2017 at 11:09 Reply

      Thanks for your input, Hanna!

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