In my previous blog, we discussed the status of beards in the workplace and them being perceived as professional. Let's talk about how the idea of “Dress For Success” impacts a beard. Recently we had a high-level person come to our job and the joke was made that I should have shaved my beard to be presentable. This fired me up. At that moment I made it my mission to seek him out and shake his hand and ask his opinion. When I found him I looked him dead in the eye, greeted him, told him my name asked him “I was told I should have shaved my beard because you were coming, what do you think?” He replied “Never shave, that beard is amazing. I cant grow one myself.” So continues the great beard debate.
Beards in the workplace are still taboo but where does this begin? There seems to be an unwritten rule that you shouldn’t have a beard in an interview because you don’t know how that organization feels about beards. This is still a hot topic, even at the Human Resource Institute of Alberta. Leaders are unsure if a beard is even appropriate. Why should you need to care about an individual's personal opinion on a beard if you’re applying for a job? That mindset only furthers stereotypes and stagnates change. Just because that's the way its always been doesn’t mean that's how it has to be. This is not to say there aren’t certain trades that require specific dress codes for safety and hygiene. No-one wants their long flowing beard getting stuck in a power drill or beard hair falling in a customers mash potatoes.
Still, somehow there is this unwritten code that people go by in terms of a beard. Should I be perceived of less of a candidate for a CPA position because I choose a beard? I don’t think so. I am referring to the idea of “Dress For Success” where you dress to emulate the leadership and dress for the part. I want to hire independent thinkers, not clones. If you’re making your employees dress and cut their hair a certain way you’re already building resentment towards the job and outfit. I want people to feel good about how they come to work.
Have you ever walked onto a car lot during the summer and seen salesman scouring the lot stuffed into cheap suits sweating like dogs. No thanks.
So the other option is to tailor your beard to be less offensive or noticeable. No thanks. I already take amazing care of my beard. Someone telling me how to care for my beard who doesn’t even like them isn’t a great option. That's like having someone who hates kids tell you how to raise a kid. The overall attitude towards beards is contagious. I have heard that people think a beard looks intimidating. Okay, I get that. It is important to present yourself well in terms of manners. My job requires us to wear name tags. I like to push the envelope. I often don’t wear mine. I believe that you can make a much greater impression on people by introducing yourself and building report and it shows. You can walk into my office and everyone knows my name but struggle to remember the names of people who have been there 4, 8, and almost 20 years. They all tell me how epic my beard is. BOOM!
It’s pretty simple, don’t risk a job because of a beard. We all have to eat and we all have bills to pay. If you wear a beard be the best beard representative you can be. Shake hands, smile, make eye contact, give your name and be memorable. The beard will be part of the you that people love. That's how we change the perception.