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Beard or No Beard on the Job Hunt?

A young man strokes his beard

About 10 years ago, men’s beards grew back. As if overnight, wild and untamed “lumbersexual” beards and more coifed hipster beards hit the streets, and we all thought, “Well, that’s interesting. But it won’t last.” Fast-forward to 2018 and, while beards have stuck around, they’ve mostly morphed into a clean, closely groomed look that most men can easily pull off.

Although the beard trend has solidly hit the mainstream, is it OK for work? This is a popular topic of discussion among those in the working world so, when our friends at popular shaving company Harry’s asked us to collaborate on the topic, we decided to lather up and see what we could uncover together.

As more young entrepreneurs enter the boardroom, facial hair is becoming more accepted. Keep in mind that to some extent, personal image is often seen as an extension of a company’s brand. The goal is to find the right beard for your position.

However, some financial or conservative business industries still don’t accept beards as being professional. And if you’re in sales, a beard may make you appear to be too serious and unapproachable.

A study done by Live Bearded, found that bearded men are perceived as 38% less generous, 36% less caring, and 51% less cheerful than their clean-shaven counterparts. Beards can also be correlated with maturity, authority, and masculinity—which can be a good thing, for certain jobs.

Here’s a pro-tip from the folks at Harry’s: Consider going clean-shaven for the job interview while you survey the work culture/landscape. A tell-tale clue your “work beard” will work: if you spot a company leader sporting facial hair.

But you may be wondering, is it legal for employers to judge someone because of their facial hair—or to prohibit them from having a beard altogether? According to Attorney Richard B. Cohen, in at-will work states like Texas: Yes, it’s mostly legal.

“For all intents and purposes, in an at-will state, if you let your freak flag fly at work you can be fired. Or not hired,” Cohen says. “Nothing says that an employer cannot have an ‘appearance’ policy for grooming. Except when the civil rights laws are implicated. You know: Title VII, the Americans With Disabilities Act (“ADA”), etc.”

Unless you have a reason for facial hair that can reasonably be attributed to your religion or a disability, you’re likely at the mercy of your employer’s (or potential employer’s) workplace appearance policies.
Whatever you choose to do with your facial hair, Harry’s offered us the following grooming tips for men in the modern workplace:

  • If you’re cleanly shaven: Make sure to use proper shaving techniques as well as invest in sharp, quality razor blades to avoid skin irritation.
  • If you prefer stubble: Clean it up daily by evening out your cheek and necklines to avoid looking unkempt and using face moisturizers to keep rigid hair soft.
  • If you have a full beard: Keep it well-manicured with regular trimming to maintain clean lines and eliminate stray hairs. Also, invest in beard oil to keep your beard healthy. And another pro-tip: Begin growing your beard over the weekend or holiday to avoid awkward stages.

We’d love to know your thoughts about the great “work beard” debate. And, by the way, if you geek-out on statistics, Vox has a few interesting charts and theories on when and why men’s beards have trended throughout the past couple hundred years.


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