Do I Really Have to Cut My Hair to Get a Job?

In Advocate by El Maestro27 Comments

Cut My Hair to Get a Job?

Hey Longhairs!

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.

I spent many years keeping it short because I assumed they would look at long hair and assume I was less qualified because of it. I got this misconception from my own past, as it turns out. First, a brief history of the hair:

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?

When I first grew it out at 16, I have to admit, I was kind of a jerk. Cops are used to hassling teenage longhairs and following us around, because let’s face it, some of us are assholes. So I was pretty sure I couldn’t get hired for a job with the flowing locks, but if I could earn the respect on the job, I could rock them later. (Cue fifteen years of long-short-long-short…)

What About Now?

I grew my hair out at this job. Has it made a difference? Actually, yes. As my hair has grown longer, it shows the faculty I work with that I’m literally willing to let my hair down a little, and I think it makes me more approachable.

So let’s ask again…do you need to cut your hair for a job?

Nope. That’s bullshit. And if they care enough about the length of your hair to pass you over for a job, perhaps they’re not the sort of folk you want to work for anyway. That said, there are still a few tips to follow when you’re looking for a job, or newly in one, if you don’t plan on cutting your hair.

Four Tips to Keep Rocking the Flow in Your Job

1) Note the Climate

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