The acceptability of beards varies from culture to culture as well as various points in time. For the culture of American business and the professional world in America in general, there are both pros and cons to growing a beard.
To get it out of the way, there are to main cons, which are really mainly related to specific professions, though they can apply to other things too:
- Some jobs, like firefighters or any other job where an airtight mask is required, ban beards for safety reasons. In this case, it is reasonable to conform to their standards.
- The corporate world, especially the financial sector, is very conservative and generally very anti-beard. Some companies in this field will avoid hiring bearded men while others may hire them, but these men will be at a significant professional disadvantage for having a beard, due to the stigma of beards in general in the conservative corporate world.
While the first professional beard con is pretty unavoidable, the second is more ambiguous, because unlike where safety is concerned, there is no valid reason not to have a beard in the conservative corporate world. The whole beard ban in the financial sector boils down to convention set long ago by someone’s personal taste and not a legitimate functional reason. So, you have to decide: Will you rebel against the norm knowing that some in your field may professionally punish you for it or will you give up and shave? This is a personal decision only you can make—don’t cop to pressure either way.
That said, the good news is that more and more traditionally conservative business institutions are allowing facial hair and even beards. In fact, this GQ investigation, done on the streets of New York City, which is home to some of the most conservative industries in the world, shows that even the financial sector is loosening up about beards. The emphasis is now less on the fact that you have facial hair, and more on the way you keep it groomed. As long as your beard is well kept and conforms to an overall professional look, more and more business offices are allowing their male workers to wear beards.
So, now that beards are generally more socially acceptable in the professional world, you’re probably wondering if there are any professional benefits to having a beard. Turns out, there are quite a few.
Beards can keep you from getting the latest crud going around the office, thereby turning you into the king of productivity while everyone else is off on a sick day. A beard can signal to your employers that you are dominant and masculine, while at the same time being liberal and a free thinker. These are all traits that can help you climb the corporate ladder a lot faster, and are generally associated with success. Finally, beards give you more confidence, which is another huge career-boosting benefit that will allow you to become the professional ace you always knew you were.
Is it hard to get a hired at a new job when you have a beard?
You’ve probably been told by your parents or teachers that your beard will set you back professionally. However, this is more the exception than the rule, thanks in large part for the increased general social acceptability of having a beard.
For starters, if you grow your beard for religious reasons, there are many jurisdictions where your right to have a beard is protected even in the workplace, and you can’t be fired for that reason alone. Even if your beard is a style or lifestyle choice as opposed to a religious one, it may be legally difficult to be fired in many places for simply having a beard.
You may think that having a beard creates a bad first impression on a job interview 100% of the time, no matter what job you’re going for, but this is more of a social conditioning thing than something firmly based in reality. Beardbrand.com argues that for most professions, there is no good reason men shouldn’t be able to have a beard, even during the initial interview phase, and that a ban on beards for professions that don’t have a practical reason (such as where the beard may cause safety issues), lies firmly in social convention and should be resisted in this current beard-friendly age. As the author points out: You may not even get the job. In that case, you would’ve shaved your beard for nothing.
Before going any further, it’s important to note that if you are going for a job where shaving your beard off is mandatory because it promotes your welfare on the job or the welfare of others (be they co-workers, clients, patients, etc.), then don’t be a rebel. Safety first, as they say. Some such jobs may require clean shaving and if it’s for safety, it’s worth it.
Other jobs simply require you not to have a long or unruly beard, but they don’t mind a closely cropped beard. If your work has a beard ban, ask them about short beards or if stubble is okay. You may be pleasantly surprised. And there are plenty of ways to rock a cropped beard, and they’re really easy to maintain with a beard trimmer, like the Philips Norelco Multigroom 7100, which allows you to keep beard length at bay without sacrificing the beard itself.
So, what should you do if there are no practical or safety reasons to be clean shaven at the job you’re applying for? Well, that’s really up to you. You could play it safe and shave, but that would undo all the work you put in growing out your beard. If you’re not ready to sacrifice your beard for a job, the best thing to do is to simply keep it clean and well-groomed, and do the same thing for the rest of your body. A good presentation is always key for job interviews.
To keep your beard looking its best for a job interview, carefully trim and shape any stray hairs. Most importantly, keep it clean and soft with a good beard shampoo and conditioner like this set from Woody’s Quality Grooming for Men. Finish up with a beard balm that tames your beard’s shape while also promoting beard health for a better appearance, like Beard Butter by Wild Willies. Its two-in-one benefits will also save you crucial time during your pre-work morning routine.
Some may wonder if you can look professional with a full beard. The answer is a resounding yes. If you need further proof, look no further than these manly, bearded men in suits:
It’s important to remember that beards aren’t inherently unprofessional. Men with well-kept beards enjoy success in a variety of fields from medicine to education to science to law and everything in between. Professionalism largely boils to your level of skill in your chosen field, how you carry yourself, how you groom yourself, how you dress yourself, and, of course, your behavior individually and towards others. As long as all of those things are in check, there is no reason you can’t be a bearded professional.