Stock Photos in Your Recruiting? Shame On You

Katrina Kibben Recruitment Marketing, Uncategorized

It’s weird to open a website and recognize all of the people in the images. Great to see an old friend, sure, but that’s not what I’m talking about. I don’t recognize the photos on this website because I met them at the last HR Tech conference. I remember these faces because they are the same stock photos that every other site is using. 

Proof. Last week during a coaching call, I reviewed the websites from 2 competitors. Would you believe they had the exact same photography? 

Let me introduce you to my stock friends. You may know them from other websites.

“The Team Interview” with one person of each skin tone sitting in a row wearing the same suit.

“The Gardner,” a hand holding dirt with a random plant coming out.

“Diversity Hands” where everyone of different skin tones grabs the other person’s arm in an oddly aggressive way to represent collaboration. Kind of like jazz hands, but not ok to do at work.

I can keep going. 

That wasn’t the first time, nor will it be the last. When I work on candidate experience audits, I’m generally mortified by what passes as photography on these websites. Year after year, these giant companies get away with terrible stock photography and no apparent consequences when it comes to hiring. 


In the spirit of science and morbid curiosity, I went on the hunt for bad stock photos. Instead of a random mish-mash of career sites, I started with the brands that everyone idolizes: the Fortune 50. They’re supposed to be the “best-in-class” and all that, right? 

Guess how many used stock photos. 

Prepare to be shocked. 

Of the Fortune 50, less than half had photos that were obviously not stock or actors.

Yes, seriously. 

You’re probably thinking, “If they can get away with it, what’s the big deal, Katrina?” 

Wrong attitude. You slackers are missing out on an incredible opportunity to skate by with selfies.

Quick Wins: A Right Now Stock Photo Solution

Consider this. No one expects you to share beautiful office photos right now. They want to see behind the scenes and how you’re handling the current crisis. 

They’re expecting selfies.

Have your team take selfies in their home office spaces and use those to populate your social media and careers site for now. It’s a quick win and easy detail to take care of in the big scheme of things. Bonus: You’ve actually created intimacy with photography instead of another forgettable career site. 

Don’t even start with the whole, “but what if they leave?” thing. This is by far the #1 excuse I hear. To that, I’d simply say this. So what? 

An ex-employee is still better than Stock Susan or Buy Now Bill. Besides, candidates have no idea who still works there when they’re looking at your career site. I mean, when was the last time a candidate walked in and said, “I’d really like to meet the girl on the marketing page. Can you introduce me?”

If they do, that’s creepy.