Can a picture REALLY tell a thousand words?

Last week a friend of mine asked me if I could help her put a job application together.

She had been approached by a head hunter representing a very well known US-based business. She really liked the sound of the opportunity and the company and had been asked to complete a pretty in-depth online application form.

The first part of application was to respond to 10 questions each with a 100 word limit. I have to admit some of the questions were a bit ‘out there’, but eventually we were both really happy with her responses.

After uploading her answers, the following text automatically appeared…

In the unlikely event that we choose not to read your responses to the questions just submitted, please upload an image that you feel best captures the key message behind your application. Feel free to include a caption of no more than 10 words”.


She thought about it for a few minutes and then said, “I need an image that really defines my ambition to succeed”.

In the end my friend decided to upload a photo that had been taken from a helicopter flying right above Manhattan. “Concrete jungle where dreams are made of,” she said.

Interesting selection.

What photo would you show a recruiter/employer who, instead of looking at your CV and interviewing you, told you that they just wanted to see a photo that best reflected your success and achievements to date?

For example, I have a photo of me at the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro. To me this captures a true personal accomplishment and my desire to be constantly pushed outside of my comfort zone.

If I was the recruiter or hiring manager in the above scenario, and a candidate showed me the iconic photo of Neil Armstrong planting the American flag on the moon, I would interpret this to also reflect personal accomplishment, and the desire to be the first to achieve something.

I know of many recruiters who ask candidates to submit a photo with their application. However this is usually as a way to literally put a face to a name. After all, a recruiter can easily interview a few hundred people every year and CVs can all start to look the same.

What if the idea of including a photo had nothing at all to do with putting a face to the name? But was more a way for you to reinforce the message behind your application?

Would you even need to be in the photo?

What would your 10-word caption say?


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