One thing holding many men back from growing the beard of their dreams is the fear that it will hurt their job prospects. While the importance of managing your facial hair and of overall grooming and dress vary a lot from workplace to workplace and profession to profession, there are few jobs out there that require no attention to looks. This can be discouraging for men who want to experiment with different facial hair styles or just don’t like shaving every day.
Luckily, having a beard is not a deciding factor for employment most of the time. Because of the growing popularity of beards and certain religious exemptions, employers in recent years have become increasingly less anti-beard. Even some professions where a no beard policy was set in stone for many years are beginning to loosen or do away with restrictions. As a result, it might be easier than you think to be gainfully employed and still control the way your facial hair looks.
HOW DOES HAVING A BEARD AFFECT MY JOB PROSPECTS?
Long story short—probably not. As we already mentioned, rules tend to vary depending on the line of work that you are in. Employers in professions that require a high degree of sanitation or professionalism tend to worry more about the looks and habits of their employees, while many other kinds of employers couldn’t care less as long as you are tidy.
The key to keeping your beard in the workplace is to maintain your beard looking clean and professional. There are a lot of different styles of beard out there, and as we will discuss later, some are better than others for a work environment.
WHAT ABOUT COMPANIES WITH A NO BEARD POLICY?
So what about companies that have a strict no beard policy? Trying to keep your beard in this kind of environment might seem like a lost cause.
However, convincing management to loosen restrictions on beards in the workplace can be easier than you think. Talking to your boss in a professional way about the increasing acceptance and changing public opinion of beards can go a long way, particularly if you are a long-term employee.
Even if you fail the first time, just bringing up the issue can eventually lead to further change in the workplace.
Another important thing to keep in mind is that, even if a company has a no beard policy, it is still acceptable for you to go to your interview with a well-groomed beard. As long as it looks nice, it shouldn’t hurt your chances of getting a job, and it could even help convince your future boss that a no beard policy is the wrong choice.
To learn more about this topic, see our more detailed blog post on changing the no beard policy in your workplace.
HOW CAN I MAKE MY BEARD LOOK MORE PROFESSIONAL?
So if the most important part of getting and keeping a job while having a beard is to keep it clean and tidy, that begs the question: what is the best way to keep my beard looking professional?
There are two major factors that play a role in how your beard is perceived. The first is the style of beard you have, and the second is the way you clean it. Together, these two factors make up the overall acceptability of your beard for employers.
When it comes to styles, the general rule of thumb is that the more “normal” your beard is, the better. This means sticking to standard styles that don’t draw a lot of attention, like a short beard, a goatee, or a simple mustache.
An overly long or untidy beard can be seen as a downside because it can get in the way and cause hazards to safety, especially when it comes to jobs that include a lot of manual labor or tools.
Alternatively, giant lamb-chops or a handlebar mustache can be seen as overly ostentatious, and will be discouraged for drawing unnecessary attention. Those might be great looks for civil war generals—not so much for employees in an office!
Overall, the biggest factor is cleanliness. Having a clean beard is an absolute must if you plan to keep your beard on the job, just like overall hygiene. While keeping your beard clean may sound relatively easy it is important to remember that beard hair is different from head hair, and requires different products and grooming habits in order to keep clean. Learning tips for better beard hygiene and establishing a routine is a great first step.