Sobhan Mohmand, Career Expert 12 May 2021
A common question that we are often asked is:
“Can I use images and logos on my CV?”
The short answer to that question is: no.
Even though there is no such thing as a CV rulebook where forbidden CV items are listed, 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.
“But… Why?” I hear you ask. Glad you asked.
There are three main reasons:
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 their 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; it is certainly worthwhile to carefully consider all the potential negative impacts it could have on your CV and your chances of being invited to an interview.
The golden rule for a successful CV is that is 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 – who are, ultimately, the people you are trying to impress and your sole target audience – are used to conventional CVs.
These conventional CVs do not contain anything else besides plain text.
In their view, images and logos are things that can be presented in portfolios or during the interview stage, not on a CV.
It may be acceptable to use minimal graphics on creative CVs in the following industries:
Using a logo, even on creative CVs, is strongly discouraged for the reasons outlined above.
It is not recommended to use images, graphics or company brands on a CV.
Besides going against the mainstream conventions of CV writing, there is also the risk of it being a direct infringement of intellectual property rights if the logo is used without the company’s approval. What impression will this give to the potential employer about you and your respect for the IP rights of others?
Furthermore, it is a widely accepted fact that employers tend to prefer to see simple-to-scan, well-presented conventional CVs as opposed to something that goes directly against the mainstream practices of CV writing.