German CV Photo: Guidelines for a Professional Image

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Written By Alex

Suppose you’ve read through my previous article about how to write a German CV for your application. In that case, you already know about some specific requirements for a German CV photo. I decided to put together more information here to give you more details.

Based on my own experience and recommendations from German friends and the HR department in my company, you will find the essential information regarding your German CV photo here.

Key takeaways

  1. In this article I explain why it’s still important to include a photo in your German CV even if the law doesn’t require it.
  2. In addition, I provide you with a recommendation for using the correct size for your portrait photo. And also which image orientation to use.
  3. A big question is whether it’s ok to use selfies or homemade photographs for your CV.
  4. Since my recommendation is to use the services of a professional photographer, I also give you a few reasons why.
  5. Another critical factor is how you style your CV photo in Germany.
  6. You will learn more about best practices, independent of the questions, whether you apply for a blue-collar or white-collar job in Germany.
Bewerbung mit oder ohne Foto Application with or without photo

Is it necessary to include a photo in my German CV?

You don’t have to include a picture in your German CV. But due to standard practices in Germany, almost all German applicants use one. From my experience, having a picture in your resume is essential to gain more attention. The recruiters instantly get a better impression of a future hire.

Job application photo size in Germany Bewerbungsfoto Grösse

German CV photo size

There seems to be a standard for the photo size in a German CV as in many other things. Most commonly, they use a format of about 40 mm x 50 mm in portrait mode. Sometimes it can be a bit larger, up to a size of 45 mm x 60 mm, depending on the layout of your CV.

Format für Bewerbungsfoto Format for German CV photo

The format of your CV picture

Portrait mode is more often used than landscape mode. Why? Becasue it’s the perfect form factor for a portrait photo for your German resume. In general, it should not be too prominent in your CV.

Some of the templates that I mentioned in my article about writing a German CV for your application in Germany use a square picture. This is not wrong, but uncommon. I recommend not using any photos in a circle-shaped photo format.

Pictures can be either black or white. It depends on your preferences.

Bewerbungsfoto Selfie oder professionell German CV photo selfie or professional

Selfie or professional picture?

Some friends often asked me whether it’s ok to shoot a selfie picture nowadays. Or if it’s better if professional photographer takes the photo for your CV.

The Berufszentrum Nordrhein-Westfalen (North Rhine-Westphalia Vocational Center) has found that employers won’t select up to 50 percent of applicants because of an inferior application photo.

From my experience, you leave a way better impression by using a photo taken by a photographer specializing in portrait photography. Most likely, they have experience in lightning, working with neutral backgrounds, and how to position yourself in the frame of a picture.

Posture can be important as well for leaving a good first impression. Your posture can leave a closed-up impression or show you as an open and curious person just by minimal changes. This is the kind of experience only photographers have that you will not be able to reproduce on your own.

Your picture might lack quality with selfies and have a disturbing, uneven background. You will leave an unprofessional first impression on your future employer. 

Was sollte man auf dem Bewerbungsfoto anziehen What to wear on the German CV photo

How to dress for your application photo?

As a rule of thumb, you can say that your clothing should look professional, serious, and well-groomed. A relatively conservative outfit in muted colors is preferable. Flashy neon colors and large patterns are just as unsuitable as a neckline that is too low or an unbuttoned shirt too far – this obviously looks cheap.

How men should dress

  • Men should consider wearing a shirt with a jacket
  • A tie is no longer a must
  • Shirt should be buttoned up
  • Washed and clean hairstyle
  • If you have a beard, make sure it looks neat and well-groomed
  • Don’t wair too much jewelry if at all

How women should dress for the resume picture

  • No too bright colors
  • Wear a blouse or high-quality shirt with a blazer
  • Show only a slight neckline
  • Your hair can either be worn open or tied back from the face (e.g. in a braid)
  • Only wear discreet daytime make-up
  • Consider only wearing decent jewelry
  • Too big earrings or necklaces are found not to be appropriate


I hope you find both the tips and recommendations provided above helpful. Please remember that besides your professional experience, your photo in a German CV leaves a first impression on all recruiters or HR people or even with your future boss. 


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