In Germany we don’t use the anonymized application process you might be used to from your home country or from other jobs you previously applied for.
das Bewerbungsfoto (application picture)
Therefore, das Bewerbungsfoto (application picture) is an important part of your application documents.
I personally understand the advantages of an anonymized process as the person handling the job application in the company will focus solely on your skills, academic achievements and references but not the looks of an applicant. German companies though seem to see it a little different, the main argument for application pictures being that they want to get an impression of how the candidate would represent their company.
For the reasons mentioned above, you should pay careful attention to your application picture and what message you want to bring across.
Depending on the job you apply for you decide whether you want to look rather demure or maybe candid.
Are you going to work in a conservative market like finance or in a startup or creative job?
Whatever your message might be, it is important to submit an authentic picture that represents you and that you feel comfortable in.
I would recommend that you invest the money in pictures taken by a professioneller Fotograf (professional photographer). That’s what Germans usually do. If you’re in Germany already you can simply tell the photographer or studio that you need Bewerbungsfotos and they’ll recommend you certain backgrounds and may suggest some pose.
Application pictures taken in a photo booth are not necessarily inappropriate, but you had to know quite well how to present yourself.
If the company requests job applicants to send in their applications via email, you can scan your picture of course. In any other case you should send an original, at least when it’s for more than a temp job. I know, depending on how many applications you’ll send out, this can get costly.
The application picture is sometimes also called das Lichtbild, it should be recent, not older than a year and you should really look like on the picture in reality.
Das Bewerbungfoto is normally slightly bigger than a picture in your passport, approximately 6,3cmx4,5cm. In case you’re not sure, just ask the photographer or the studio. They’re familiar with all the standard sizes.
It should be ein Farbfoto (color photo), black and white is possible when you’re applying for an artistic job, I suppose.
The application picture in German is normally ein Porträtfoto (mugshot). No, not one of those! 😉
As mentioned about, the picture should portray you in a good way and also be appropriate for your future work environment. You could wear clothes you would normally wear if this was your day job.
Men want to look dapper, maybe wear einen Anzug (suit). Women should also dressed appropriately and Germans don’t like heavy or very visible makeup and jewelry. This may be different in your country but keep it fairly simple at work in Germany.
Tip: You want to place the picture either on the cover (see part 2 of this series) or glue it in CV / resume. Yes glue, I’d rather not use paper clips. Write your name and address on the backside in case the picture gets lost.
Next time we’ll speak about the CV or resume itself!