How can i be a professional man

Application photo: 15 tips + examples for the perfect picture

There are numerous myths and legends surrounding the application photo. After all, a picture is worth a thousand words and, as is well known, there is no second chance for a first impression. The HR manager's look at your application photo can therefore already be the first decisive factor for the chances of success. The good news, however, is: good and professional application photos are not rocket science. If you understand a few basic rules and what effect the application photo can have on the HR manager, nothing stands in the way of the perfect photo in your documents. We answer the most important questions about application photos and give you lots of examples and tips ...

➠ Content: This is what awaits you

➠ Content: This is what awaits you

The most important basics for the application photo

The application photo is often discussed. Is it still up to date? Shouldn't it be avoided completely? The number of companies that do without application photos is increasing - in general, the application photo is still standard and is therefore an integral part of almost all application documents.

The aim of the application photo is to create an optimal impression at first glance: You want to show that you fit the desired position. If you suggest subtly through the photo that you are already an employee of the company, the application chances increase noticeably. A conservative application portrait is therefore less suitable for a creative profession and vice versa.

Please do not get this wrong: The application picture is neither about costumes nor theatrical staging, but about an overall coherent picture - in both senses of the word.

The perfect application photo starts with the subtleties and details, which every viewer perceives at least subliminally and which nevertheless have a great influence on your effect. For example, whether you smile on the application picture or not. That can make a huge difference, as the following two examples clearly show:

On the right-hand side, the applicant immediately appears more personable and open-minded.

Therefore, when you take application photos, you should always keep one important question in mind: What impression do I want to make? This should always be adapted to the desired position and the company. It can therefore make sense not to just take a single application photo and use it for all applications, but to have several versions ready if the potential employers or the positions differ from one another.

Another principle, however, is: Your application photo should always be authentic and of course up-to-date. Anyone who presents something in the picture that he is not at all appears implausible, artificial and simply wrong.

This is how it works

  • Photo shows half profile. Make eye contact with the viewer - smile!
  • Clothing fits the intended job, is crease-free and stain-free.
  • Calm, neutral background. Tip: colors of the employer.
  • High quality, format: 6x4cm or 9x6cm (“golden ratio”).
  • Stick or scan in the résumé or cover sheet.

Please avoid that

  • Vacation photos or machine photos in poor quality.
  • Shiny, oily skin (powder!)
  • Full body shot. Unfriendly look.
  • Open, uncombed hair.
  • Sexy look. Too many visible piercings / tattoos.
  • Attachment with paper clip.

Frequently asked questions and answers about application photos

The application photo regularly triggers uncertainty and many questions. We took this as an opportunity to put together a small FAQ for you with the most frequently asked questions about application photos:

Is an application photo required?

The clear answer to this is: No, it is not! Since the introduction of the Anti-Discrimination Act (AGG), the application photo is no longer a compulsory part of an application. In practice, however, not much has changed. Some companies actually do without it and state this in job advertisements, but most employers still prefer to include application photos - take a look at the expert opinions below in the article.

What quality should application photos have?

It cannot be said often enough: The application photo should not come from a machine, or from your free time or vacation. That always looks cheap and devalues ​​you at first glance. Avarice sends the wrong signal because it only documents that you are not even ready to invest in your personal future. And what could be more important?

For some this point is a matter of course, but HR managers are actually always presented with the strangest application photos, which you can only shake your head at.

Therefore: always have a photographer or a professional take such a portrait photo (never full-body photos!). But please let us show you some examples beforehand.

There are photographers who try to sell you art. They may look good if you enlarge the photos to one meter and hang them on the wall. However, they are just as unsuitable for applications as felt pens are for online forms.

Which largest should the application photo have?

The formats common today vary between 4 by 6 or 6 by 9 centimeters. The larger format is particularly suitable if you place your application photo on the cover sheet and it takes up a larger space there. Both sizes correspond to the so-called golden ratio and therefore look particularly beautiful.

Standard sizes for the application photo
(Width x Height)

  • 4 x 6 cm (473 x 709 pixels) - passport photo
  • 6 x 9 cm (709 x 1063 pixels) - large format
  • 9 x 6 cm (1063 x 709 pixels) - landscape format / cover sheet
  • 6.5 x 6.5 cm (768 x 768 pixels) - square
  • 9 x 9 cm (1063 x 1063 pixels) - square

Portrait format is the rule, but with landscape format you will attract more attention - but only if you skilfully select the section of the application photo and if the format of the application photo naturally also matches the design and layout of the application documents. If you are not sure about this, you should consult a professional.

Are application photos colored or black and white?

Color or black and white? This is ultimately a matter of taste. Monochrome images tend to look more elegant, but they can also look artificial. In addition, the contours come to the fore here. That flatters rather flat faces.

On the other hand, if you have an angular likeness, it often looks even harder. Color photos are a better choice here. They usually appear more authentic and natural, but depending on the lighting, they can also be jarring. This is another reason why it is important to have a professional take the photos.

In the case of color photos, you also have to pay attention to the right choice of clothes. So on muted and harmonious colors that match your type and the overall ensemble and the background. With black and white photos, on the other hand, shape and contrast are more important. If you have the budget, you should have both variants made and then ask friends which alternative they find more pleasant and professional.

Is jewelry allowed on application photos?

In principle, there is nothing wrong with wearing jewelry on the application photo, but it should only be subtle and never be in the foreground. When the first thought when looking at a photo Wow, those are big earrings the jewelry may spoil an otherwise coherent image and good impression.

It looks similar with make-up. A little make-up helps to look particularly good on the application photo, to present even skin and to put you in the best possible light. But don't overdo it. The following applies to jewelry and make-up: They can discreetly support your look and impression, but should never appear intrusive.

Where is the application photo inserted?

If you integrate the prints in your application portfolio, you should insert the photo directly on the first sheet of your résumé - above the first line.

Right or left depends on the direction in which the nose is pointing. The rule of thumb: always look into the page, never look out! If you use a cover sheet or a so-called third page, the application photo should be built in there. Here are two examples:

How are application photos attached?

The application photo is attached with a glue stick, not a paper clip! That looks ugly and looks like you want to use the photograph again later.

However, this is exactly the message that an application must never convey: I am a bulk dump item that may be recycled. If you digitally integrate the photo into your résumé, you should pay attention to two things:

  • choose as high a resolution as possible so that the print is better and
  • Use high quality paper that is suitable for photos if possible.

Otherwise, you might as well send in a photocopy. And that would be counterproductive for the reasons already mentioned. Your high professional qualifications and work quality should ultimately be reflected in the photo.

If the application picture is stuck on, please always write your own name on the back. If the photo is accidentally detached from the application documents, it can easily be assigned again.

How extraordinary can an application photo be?

If the application photo should fit the job, are standard application photos appropriate in creative professions or with very modern employers, or is it better to use more unusual images - for example unusual cuts, positions or backgrounds?

There is hardly any clear answer to this; it also depends on what you want the application photo to aim for. In principle, however, the following applies: The application photo must match the rest - above all, the design and layout of the résumé. If it is kept classic and simple, an extraordinary application photo quickly appears affected. It then literally falls out of the ordinary.

Extraordinary pictures therefore remain a stylistic device that can be used in principle - but only consciously and with care. Here, too, the iron law of design applies: Form follows function. If the picture supports the overall design - great. But never include such photos for their own sake. This is then pure showmanship - and it rarely looks serious.

Quick checklist for application photos

  • Do I have eye contact with the viewer?
  • Am I showing an open smile?
  • Is the face well lit and easy to see?
  • Does the hair fit?
  • Does the skin have a natural tone?
  • Have you chosen the right clothes for the job?
  • Don't your shirt, blouse and jacket have ugly wrinkles?
  • Is the background calm and neutral?
  • Is the head slightly tilted dynamically?
  • Is the body inclined towards the viewer?

Free download: As usual, you can download the checklist with 10 tips for the perfect application photo here as a PDF again free of charge.

Examples of application photos

Negative examples: Please not like this!

Positive examples: this is how it works!

Tips: You should pay attention to this with the application photo

Now that you've seen a few examples, let's turn to the details and how you as an applicant can best present yourself in the limelight. If you take the following tips to heart, your application photos will be a success:

Select the correct section of the picture

The perfect application photo shows you in a so-called half portrait, i.e. above all your face and a little shoulder area, but this should not take up more than a fifth of the photo. The head can be pointed frontally at the camera, but a head turned slightly to the side often looks more natural and makes a better impression. Here it is advisable to work out the perfect angle together with the photographer. Since the face is in the foreground in the half-portrait, a little powder should be used so that it does not shine too much on the application photo.

Wear suitable clothing for the application photo

The topmost rule: the clothes on the application photo should match the desired job. For example, if you are applying as a future banker, you should already look like a banker in the photo. If you want to do it perfectly, you can visit the target company incognito and look around to see which dress code is there.

It's a little easier if you look at photos of employees in online networks such as Xing or LinkedIn and then adapt the look for the application photo. But you can rarely go wrong with a suitable business outfit. For men this means: a suit in dark colors with a matching shirt, if desired a tie. Women are well-dressed with a dark trouser suit combined with a light blouse.

However, there are also faux pas that you should avoid with the clothes on the application photo: Women should avoid strapless tops or too deep necklines. Shirts with short sleeves are an absolute no-go for men. For both genders, stained or wrinkled clothes are taboo for application photos.

Take care of your hair and the hairstyle

Regardless of whether they are applicants - with attributes that are considered typically masculine, candidates have better chances of getting the job. The Mannheim sociologist Anke von Rennenkampff found out during her doctorate through application photos. This is even more true for women than for men.

If the hair was combed back or pinned up, the HR managers assumed that the applicants had significantly more leadership skills than those with an open whale mane. Compare the different effects yourself:

In any case, it is important that the hairstyle is neat, the hair is combed properly and the mane does not just stick out in all directions. A visit from a trusted hairdresser therefore doesn't do any harm before you have an appointment with the photographer to take your application photos.

Work on your facial expression

Some applicants find it very easy to immediately present a natural, personable and professional facial expression on application photos. Others find it much more difficult. How they look in the picture, however, determines how it looks and how it goes down with the HR manager.

Therefore, practice in advance and work on your facial expression. An authentic smile with an open and direct look into the camera sounds easy, but it may take a few tries. Have friends or partner take a few photos at home to understand how different facial expressions work and to find a suitable one that enhances your application photos. You can also experiment with different head positions and perspectives. Even a slight tilt or turn can completely change the impression of your profile.

An old photographer's tip: squint your eyes very slightly, so kneel or blink You hinted at. The lower eyelids are raised slightly. This makes the look immediately more interesting and captivating. Models use this trick regularly, but it also takes some practice to look natural.

Think of a suitable background

Unfortunately, it is often forgotten by laypeople. But it has a huge impact on the overall effect of the application photo. If, for example, the wrong background motif, contrast or colors are chosen, the applicant is literally indented oblique Light.

It should be a neutral, solid color background that matches the rest of the image. Ideally, the wall color harmonizes with the clothing (for color photos) and the lighting does not cast ugly shadows (very important for black and white photos!). If the contrast is too high (chalky white background), faces quickly appear pale and sick.

While this is actually a photographer's job and professionals have a keen eye for it, you should also take another look at the background when selecting your application photos.

We have put together further tips for applicants in order to put themselves in the limelight for the perfect application photo in this PDF.

Expert opinions: What HR managers say about the application photo

4 out of 5 HR professionals still prefer applications with a photo. In our employer check, we regularly ask HR managers what to look out for in candidates. This also includes the application photo. Here are a few excerpts from the answers:

Claudia Tensierowski, group leader for European recruitment at BASF:

“If a photo is attached, it should be taken by a photographer and not be a private photo on the beach or in the living room. In case of doubt, a black and white photo is preferable to the colored one. "

Christina Graessel, Head of Recruiting & HR Marketing at Capgemini:

“A photo rounds off the impression, but it does not influence our decision either positively or negatively. Since application documents are printed out for the interview at the latest, I recommend black and white. That saves resources and usually looks even better. "

Peter Berg, Head of Global Talent Acquisition & Development at Daimler:

"We look forward to a photo, because it rounds off an application and gives it a face."

Markus Kumpf, Head of Talent Acquisition Germany at Siemens:

“The quality of the photos is crucial. Whether colored or black and white is a question of taste. It is much more important that the picture was taken by a professional photographer and not from the machine or from your last summer vacation. "

Perfect application photos with the right photographer

Under no circumstances should you take the application photo yourself - unless you are, of course, a photographer. Otherwise: No matter whether in the photo booth or at home: hands off! You will never achieve the quality of a professional application photo. Recruiters see this (like everyone else), and you're just showing that you're not ready to invest in your own profile. The selection of photographers who the perfect application photo offer is very big in every city. So that you can really find a good photographer for your application photo, you should consider a few circumstantial evidence:

  • A good photographer has experience in the field
    Check out his work and study the application photographer's website. This will give you an idea of ​​what the result might look like. The samples should really be application photos - no sedcards from photo models or wedding photos! You will then immediately notice whether you like the pictures or not.
  • A good photographer will suggest a shoot for you
    Don't just go in and sit on a stool for five minutes, taking the pictures of you. Take the time for a proper application shoot. In this way, recordings can be made in different poses and with different backgrounds.
  • A good photographer will ask about the position and industry
    Depending on which industry you are applying for, the pictures should be more or less conservative. If the photographer knows what position you are applying for, he can advise you on posture and the right pose. You might also take a look at the target company's website together to adjust the color mood of your images.
  • A good photographer will discuss the outfit and make-up with you
    He can advise you on what looks good in the pictures and emphasizes your charisma. You can bring several outfits and decide together which one you want to be photographed in. He also gives you tips on whether your hair is falling nicely and your skin looks even and no dark circles or imperfections can be seen.
  • A good photographer takes away your fear
    Most photographers are very sociable people who know how to lighten the mood. That's why you should be able to sympathize with the photographer and even make you laugh. If you feel comfortable in his presence, you will also appear less nervous in the pictures.
  • A good photographer is open about costs
    A professional shoot for application photos takes more time than just snapping a few pictures. The investment is worthwhile and a good photographer will discuss the costs with you in advance. So it informs you about the expenses you have to reckon with, what individual images cost or which packages are offered.

Be careful with the application photo: Note the image rights

Whether application photographers in Hamburg, Munich, Berlin, Frankfurt or Cologne - most of them understand their trade, but you should make sure that you not only receive prints of the photos, but that you also receive a digital version (jpg, png, tif) and The photographer grants you the permanent, unrestricted right to publish.

This is the only way you have the right to really use the new application photo everywhere. And that has many advantages: Use the current application photo on all relevant online platforms such as Xing, LinkedIn, Twitter or on your blog. They create such a high recognition value and something like brand identity. In addition, the HR manager gets the impression that your appearance - online as well as offline - is overall coherent and professional.

If you do not have this right to publish, the image rights for portraits remain with the photographer as the author. You may then use it for the intended purpose in your application documents, but not publicly on your profiles on the Internet.

[Photo credit: Maridav, Robert Kneschke, Edler von Rabenstein,
Dmitry_Tsvetkov, Maxim Ahner, Tim Sulov, Peter Ruter, Dean Drobot by]

Further sources and advice

Application tips
➠ Application templates
➠ 11 application forms
➠ ABC of application tips
➠ Application folder
➠ cover sheet
➠ Brief profile

Tips on the résumé
➠ CV in tabular form
➠ Resume templates
➠ Internships on the résumé
➠ hobbies on the resume
➠ Unemployment on the résumé
➠ gaps in the résumé

Tips for covering letters
➠ Cover letter
➠ Introductory sentence in the cover letter
➠ Final sentence in the cover letter
➠ Interests in the cover letter
➠ Strengths in the cover letter
➠ Attachment directory

Tips on the job reference
➠ Assess job reference
➠ Secret codes in the certificate
➠ Interim report
➠ Job description
➠ References & samples

Special applications
➠ Unsolicited application
➠ Internal application
➠ Discreet application
➠ Email application
➠ Online application
➠ Application as a temporary worker
➠ Application for mini jobs
➠ Application after termination