Cut My Hair to Get a Job?
As I write this, I am finally leaving the awkward stage, for the fourth time in my life. I can tie it back again! Why would I repeatedly subject myself to this torture, you ask? Because for many years, I believed one of the deadliest of all longhair myths:
You have to cut your hair to get a job.
Age 16: Mom and dad finally let me grow it all out. Cut it at 18 for a girl, who still didn’t notice; I started growing it out again almost immediately.
Age 20: Kept it through the rest of college. Cut it at 22 for grad school interviews, and kept it short for a while, “to get a job.”
Age 26: It turned out my department chair in my first college teaching job was a longhair! Grew it out, then donated it at 29 and kept it short for a while.
Age 40: My wife agreed to let me grow it out just to see if she liked it (she thought she wouldn’t). Now she says “I like the long hair more than I thought I would…” So it’s staying. And finally, on my fourth foray into follicle freedome, I’m going to have Hair Ties for Guys by my side, which is super exciting.
Why Did I Cut It?
Let’s examine those instances where I thought I should cut my hair. #1 was my mistake, and I decided it probably wasn’t about the hair anyway. #2 was for grad school interviews, and there was a longhair on my interview committee. #3 is almost the same thing, except it was my boss this time. And, well, #4 is the best, because my lady loves it now too.
In my interviews, no one asked ask about my hair! They asked about my teaching style, and my educational philosophy, and my qualifications.
So Where Did This Idea Come From?
What About Now?
So let’s ask again…do you need to cut your hair for a job?
Four Tips to Keep Rocking the Flow in Your Job
Are there any other longhairs already? If so, you’re in good company, because they probably already laid the groundwork for you.
If not, be prepared to be a little bit exotic. If they need a little time to loosen up, try keeping it tied up in a tail or a Highball, so it’s neat and out of the way.
Over time, you can let it down a little and eventually just flow free. If they’re already cool about it, maybe you can find a few others to bring into the fold.2) Keep it Neat
We all remember the greasy, sloppy longhair of TV, movies, and high school. But on the job, don’t be that guy, because everyone will notice. It needs to be clean, well-washed and well styled.
If you don’t want to deal with it, tie it up! If you’re going to wear it down, though, a trip to your stylist from time to time is in order, just to get rid of split ends (my girl takes about ¼”) and keep it hanging together nicely when it’s down.3) Look Sharp
If you want to be taken seriously, personal style is important. Dress sharp: shoes shined, clothes pressed, accessories, if you’re into that. Extra points if your hair tie matches your necktie.
You are making a statement to everyone who sees you, whether you mean to or not. So are you a slouch or a warrior? You want appreciation, not eye rolls, and it helps when you look confident, ready for action, and dare I say it, damn fine.4) Work Hard
If you want to feel more freedom in your job, you have to earn it. Work hard, be conscientious, and always go a little further than you really have to. People will notice, and you’ll find that as you earn your respect, things will loosen up.
What About the Haters?
There will always be people who judge you on your hairstyle choices. I give those people my very best, to be like the hippie putting a daisy in a National Guardsman’s rifle.
How can you shoot the messenger when they are being continuously awesome? When you earn the respect of these types, you really earn it.
Take Heart, Brothers
You can be an ambassador for your longhaired brethren. Every time you kick ass on the job, you are earning good karma for all of us, and helping make things a little easier for those who may follow you.
Remember, it’s not about what you look like, but what you bring to the table, and if you can be the right person for the job, your hair won’t get in the way...whether it’s in your eyes or not!
...And Let it Ride!
Like I said, no one has ever asked about my hair, whether it has been long, short, or awkwardly in between. And the longer it gets, the more I find longhaired brethren around me reaching out.
So if after reading all this, you’re still on the fence, know that we will find you when the time is right, and you are not alone! Cut your hair for a job? Not likely...not anymore!
Get to Know El Maestro
Josh Lund is a Senior Instructional Technology Consultant at DePaul University. The former teacher turned mad scientist stays busy researching teaching technology in the collaborative arts, multimedia and recording technologies, and user interface design. He still writes and performs instrumental music on occasion, and is an avid gardener and disc golfer. He enjoys cooking, travel, and the outdoors, particularly when his family is also involved.
Connect with El Maestro on Twitter: @jlundmadscience