Sobhan Mohmand, Career Expert 1 January 2024
A common question that we are often asked is,
“Can I use graphics, images and logos on my CV?”
The short answer to that question is: no.
Even though there is no such thing as an official CV rulebook to which all CVs have to adhere to, we do have standard guidelines and practices for acceptable and conventional CVs.
These conventions dictate that a standard CV should not contain any pictures, photos, graphics, images or company logos.
The general rule of thumb is not to assume that you are permitted to use another company’s brand or logo without their explicit consent.
Logos are protected by intellectual property (IP) and trademark laws. You may infringe upon the IP of the company by using its logo – without their permission – to promote yourself.
Intellectual property experts Warren & Odom state: “Third parties are advised not to use another’s logo for any purpose, except as specifically provided by license, signed agreement, or other written permission with a specific company or person.”
Furthermore, many organisations have their own Logo Usage Terms and Conditions where they explicitly outline in which cases their logo may – or may not – be used.
For instance, Microsoft’s Logo Guidelines states: “As a general rule, third parties may not use the Microsoft® logo (‘logo’).”
Living in the digital age, it is common practice among many firms to fax, scan, photocopy, digitally store and reprint applicants’ CVs.
Needless to say, colourful images, pictures and symbols that looked impressive and striking at the start of the process may look absolutely awful when photocopied or reprinted.
Other presentational considerations:
Although there is no legal case against bad presentation; you must consider all the downsides of including logos and graphics on your CV and how they will affect your chances of securing a job interview.
The golden rule for a successful CV is that it should look professional and not stand out for the wrong reasons. You do not want to stand out from the crowd with a sign over your head stating, “I am a loner!”
Employers and recruiters – the people you are trying to impress – are used to receiving conventional CVs. These conventional CVs do not contain anything else besides plain text and some minimal design features.
This was confirmed by our 2022 survey of 56 CV writing books, which found that none of the recruitment experts recommended including graphics, images or logos on a CV. None!
For every rule, there is an exception.
In some circumstances, it may be acceptable to use graphics on your CV when applying for jobs in the following industries:
This concession applies to using small icons, colour schemes and borders. Using company logos, on the other hand, is still strongly discouraged for the reasons outlined previously.
It is not recommended to use images, graphics or company brands on a CV.
Good luck with your job hunt!