Man to Man Episode #5: Will Having a Beard Hurt Me Professionally?

by Brett on January 27, 2011 · 187 comments

in Man to Man

After a two month hiatus taking care of a newborn and writing a book, I’m back with another episode of Man to Man. This week’s question comes from Cornel. He writes:

Does facial hair impact whether or not you have success in business?

I am a 26 year old African-American male and I notice that successful business men are mostly all clean shaven. I am currently in outside sales and was clean shaven for most of 2010. The only facial hair I had was some chin hair. I am looking to grow my full beard back in 2011, but I did not want that to impact my personal brand/style/ and potential earnings as I try to start my own business next year.

My Response

What Do You Think?

Alright, it’s your turn. Have any of you bearded or mustached men out there had problems professionally because of your whiskers? Any tips or advice for Cornel?

Please keep your comments uplifting and edifying. I want Man to Man to be an edifying forum where men can feel safe asking and answering these questions.

If you have a question you’d like answered on Man to Man, just shoot me an email via this contact form. Remember, it can be about anything! Also, the contact form was broken for awhile, so I may not have received a question submitted previously.

{ 187 comments… read them below or add one }

101 Richard Williams January 28, 2011 at 2:22 pm

I believe, at best, its neutral unless, of course, you’re in a line of work such as construction, the arts, explorer, logging, fishing guide – you get the idea. I’ve had a mustache and a goatee and will likely have one again soon, but I don’t think it’s a plus in an office type, white collar environment – law, finance, banking, etc. Just my opinion. Could be generational too, I’m in my 50′s.

102 Kyle January 28, 2011 at 2:23 pm

I work at a rather conservative bank. And for years I was told that there wan’t any written rule about it, but I should probably not push it.

A while back I had taken a week off work. So I decided to see if I could get it past the growing in stage and have it looking neat and presentable when I got back to work. And it worked! I walked in with it in October and I still have it!

Besides and few cranky customers that like to pick and complain about everything from how “we’re almost robbing them with out CD rates” to they don’t like the color of the carpet in the lobby, the beard has been accepted very well. I’ve gotten a lot of compliments about looking more mature and distinguished with it.

I’d say give it a try! If you find you have resistance from people about it, you can always shave it right off.

103 Max Winter Osterhaus January 28, 2011 at 2:44 pm

Just make sure you keep that sucker well trimmed and clean. You don’t want to look like you’ve been in the woods for the last month….unless you’re selling beef-jerky or something!

104 Delshon January 28, 2011 at 2:45 pm

Cornel great choice man growing your beard. I aslo an African American Male working in the corporate world. I made a decision during the end of 2010 to grow my hair and my beard. If your family is anything like mine they all told me to cut my hair and most of my black friends advised me to do the same. However my non black friends love my long hair and beard. I think in the black community it is looked down on to let our hair wether it facial or on our hair grow. But my dad gave me the advise that as long as I keep it clean and my lady loves it forget everybody else. Whats even better is my girl shapes me up twice a week now instead of spending money at the barber shop once a week and I have grown to love my long hair and facial hair. I havent encourted in issues in my office yet about the change.

Best of luck

105 Rick January 28, 2011 at 2:58 pm

Cornel,

At risk of starting a debate, I would say less facial hair is definitely better from a business perspective. I echo Richard’s comments that there are, however, some careers where it is accepted. The office environment where I work is fairly conformist and most men are clean shaven. I have never had a moustache, beard or goatee but will start letting my facial hair grow the day I retire.

There are a few career success type sites that cite studies that a large percentage of HR people recommend the clean shaven look for an interview. I suspect the studies may be sponsored by razor manufacturers.

I have heard many comments about people not appreciating a someone’s beard, goatee or moustache but have never heard a negative comment about someone being clean shaven. One of my team members often sports two or three days growth. He’s a great guy and works hard but the fact that he can’t be bothered to shave irks me in the smallest way.

So unless you are a lumberjack or a web developer, safe bet is to shave.

106 Nate January 28, 2011 at 3:11 pm

Hey Cornel,

The bottom line for me is, if you exude confidence, knowledgeably and professionalism, your choice in facial hair will not make a significant difference in your business dealings. I interviewed for a job at a very prestigious institution with a goatee and shoulder length hair, but I carried myself well and was not only called back for a second interview but I got the position and have worked here for over three years (and worn nearly every facial hair style in the book during that time).

I’d also like to point out that “clean shaven” does not mean “a face devoid of hair”. A well groomed and maintained [insert facial hair style here] projects an image of yourself that say “I understand and value my outward appearance”. The same principles of dressing as a gentleman can be applied to styling the hair on your head. A man wearing a wrinkled and shabby suit looks like a bum, as does a man with a shabby and unkempt beard.

So I say, go for it! Worst case, you can always shave it off!

107 Adam January 28, 2011 at 3:43 pm

Hey Cornell! Do it. I am in sales in high-tech, generally dealing with older, conservative electrical engineers. I have had a beard for 6 years (I’m 30 now) and keep it well-trimmed and short. Part of the reason I grew one in the first place was to hide my baby-face. At this point, I can’t imagine not having it, and I don’t believe it’s hurt me in any way. I think the key is that whatever facial hair you have, you gotta keep it clean and trimmed, i.e. – no Ben Bernanke-style neck beard. Doing that not only shows a bit of a non-conformist streak, but as Brett said, can become a trademark of sorts.

108 Ringo January 28, 2011 at 3:53 pm

Depends on where you are working. Someplaces it’s strictly forbidden.

109 Zach P January 28, 2011 at 4:10 pm

I have been working for churches as a pastor and in different Christian ministries for the last few years, and I always go in with a clean shave for interviews and then grow back a full beard within a week or two of starting. As long as I don’t look like a mountain man, most people don’t seem to mind.

110 Cornel January 28, 2011 at 4:13 pm

I am appreciate all the feedback. I decided to grow out my goatee. I get a haircut and shave generally once a week so i keep it neat and trim.

the reason i asked is because i am in outside sales in the soft drink business and i noticed a lot of my senior leadership both black and white where clean shaven (no facial hair) and i tried it for a while but i have a baby face and generally when dating i prefer to have some hair since i am only 26 and the women seem to prefer it. it took my about 20 years to grow some chins hairs so it sucked when i cut the little i have grown off.

thank you all, i actually read all 100+ comments

111 John Geoffrey Jeffries January 28, 2011 at 4:54 pm

I’ve been reading some of your comments here, and they’re very informative. Thank you. Though I haven’t watched the above video or, to be perfectly honest, even read the question, I’m assuming from the comments that the topic is beards. Growing them, grooming them. Dare I say, loving them? I myself am a facial hair afficionado of sorts. I’m currently working on a website/blog/24-hour news source titled “The Bearded Mustachio.” Unfortunately, due to a combination of genetics and a tragic waterskiing accident on my 12th birthday, I can only grow a half beard. I haven’t even tried since someone called me “two-face” when I forgot to shave after a wild bachelor party a couple of years ago. All this is beside the point. In going through your comments, I noticed one by Scott that makes a mockery of facial hair in particular and of manhood in general. Because I come to this site to get all of my information and instruction on how to act like a proper man, I’m more than a little insulted. A man who grows a beard will feel like Samson? Give me a break!! And how perfect that he should reference a Civil War general. How about this? A man who grows a beard will feel like a gentleman, Scott!!! He’ll feel like a good son, a good husband, a good father!!!! A well-groomed beard can command respect, but it’s not what’s on your face (or half of your face) that counts. It’s what’s in here!!!!! (Pointing to my chest.) Leave it to a sorry excuse for a man like Scott to be working for a woman boss. I’d better stop writing before I get any more irate at this foolishness.

Thanks to everyone else who provided actual insightful comments.

112 Matt January 28, 2011 at 4:54 pm

Facial hair is becoming more and more accepted. If it is kept meticulously clean and neat, it makes you look mature and professional. It takes a lot of maintenance though. However, I have found that people in general have lousy memory recall. This is especially true of professionals who have contact with dozens of clients and suppliers each day. Your facial hair sets you apart from the legions of baby-faced young squirts they see on a daily basis, and they remember you.

113 ChristopherSfromCA January 28, 2011 at 5:06 pm

I think it depends on attitude and, of course, your facial structure. Some people look better with beards than others. I have a very round face, goatees are not an option but a full beard (neatly trimmed) looks good on me. I even got hired for a couple jobs while bearded.

114 Michael January 28, 2011 at 5:31 pm

I have had a goatee and mustache off and on for 25 years, and on occasion a full beard. It has not harmed my career in anyway. I have worked several places where about 30-50 percent of the men had some form of facial hair.

I worked in San Francisco for a fashion oriented business where having trendy clothes was very important to the company, what that boiled down to is that much of the office wore black all the time. I feel my look helped me stand out from the pack and showed me as a leader and trend setter in my own right, confident in who I was. Odd, that many of my male staff there grew goatees that were cut much like mine as I grew in authority!

I am sure many places that wear a uniform style, (regardless if that means a suit and tie and everyone looks like the boss or a place where everyone wears the same shirt and pants) it may be frowned upon. I would not be able to work in those places.

I’ve never been a conformist and personally dislike places where everyone looks and acts the same. There is no diversity of personalities and often even a lack of creative thinking among the staff and management.

It has been my experience that organizations where everyone looks and acts like the management team often is not only stuffy but filled with yes men. A lack of individuality is often a sign of a company going nowhere and lacking in understanding of it’s customers, it’s employees, and the market place. Anyway thats not for me, I thrive in creative places and that requires people with professional but individualistic personalities. That includes dress, there is a balance between professional and modest dress, while still presenting and projecting personality. This can often mean facial hair.

Lastly, there are many companies where the clean cut look does nothing for you. Companies that are creative such as graphic design, advertising, outdoor sporting goods, youth oriented, and even many businesses focused on environmental issues and left leaning often have a uniform of grunginess, earthiness, and non-modern look about them.

115 Tod Bowman January 28, 2011 at 5:33 pm

Hey Cornel,

The one point I’d like to make is that you can use this to your advantage at work. In outside sales, your clients are your bread and butter. Building strong relationships with them is crucial. Ask them. Say something at the end of the next meeting like “On a quick personal note, I’ve been working on growing out my Goatee, in you’re professional opinion, what do you think of the idea?” Obviously, you don’t what to sound like you’re fishing for compliments, but if well stated, it gives you two items of value: 1. an unbiased poll (love it, doesn’t really fit your facial shape, ummm… I don’t really know, I’ll let you know once it grows in a bit) and 2. After you leave that meeting, your clients will have in the back of their minds that you’re not just another salesman (“Wow, this guy really respects and values my opinion”).

116 Eric January 28, 2011 at 5:35 pm

Working sales can bring a lot of thought to your outward appearance. In regards to this topic, I have to agree with Matt. A memorable face, along with a memorable personality will stick with people and help you stand out.

Cited example: Billy Mays. High-strung personality + manly beard = successful salesman.

117 Kyle January 28, 2011 at 5:50 pm

I really like Cornel’s question and would like to take it out one step further. Having extensive Native American ancestry has led me to have an extreme baby face and very patchy facial hair at best. I am 32 in a very formal work environment. I would like to add some maturity through facial hair, but everytime I let it go for a few days or even a week (holidays) I end up looking like a 20 year old fringe grunge rocker from 1994. Is there any way to spur the growth of more full coverage facial hair?

118 Leif January 28, 2011 at 6:05 pm

I’m in the Navy and I’ve had a mustache for almost 2 years now. When I came back from leave with it, a lot of people were shocked and asked a lot of questions. It was a bit of a transition getting used to, but over the course of a month or two it became very natural. I always carry a comb in my pocket, and when there’s an awkward moment I just start combing the ol’ stache. Usually gets a laugh, and people are more friendly. I think that the most important thing about sporting facial hair is to wear it confidently. Its a confident choice in the first place, and when the attitude matches the hair, you’ve got a winning hand.

119 Rob January 28, 2011 at 6:55 pm

Cornel,

A beard is just a mustache waiting for its right time to emerge. And with a mustache, you must know one thing: you don’t have a mustache, a mustache has you!

I grow a beard every January (with the grow-in over the holiday period) and turn it into a mustache in February. It all gets shaved off in March. With that said, I would add or echo the following:
- a surprising number of people like my beard because their dad or uncle has them. You’ll hear “I like beards” more often than you’d expect (from girls no less).
- keep it neat of course
- keep it fun. Sometimes having a beard growing competition at a company can be a good sign of departmental camaraderie. You’d be surprised at the number and types of professional establishments that do this.

Good Luck!

120 Scott January 28, 2011 at 7:47 pm

Hello,
It is me again. My beard is a few hours longer, and as a direct result my confidence is a few hours stronger. Let me tell you something (again). I do feel like a Civil War General with this beard. I have sharp lines, crisp edges, and a well articulated chin (if that’s even possible). My beard hair is dark and vibrant, and 3 women in my office complimented me today (including my female boss who i am proud to work for! – sexism is a clear sign of a clean shaven face, Mr Jeffries!!). I even received a promotion today, and i feel like a gazillion bucks about it (i can assure you that the beard surely didn’t hurt in this matter). Will i ever shave this beard? Maybe. If someone offered me $10 bucks, i’d shave it. But let me tell you this: A beard is like a fine work of art. Some people understand and appreciate it, and some people have no idea what they are looking at. I, my friends, know what i am looking at when i face my beard in the mirror. And what i see is a burly, daring, man who would have been a General in Civil War times but due to modern technology is relagated to being a male secretary.

With that being said i’ll leave you with this, “if you grow a beard, grow it well and grow it proud. If you can only grow it on half your face, then just talk to people sideways so they only see the side of your face that is bearded. And if anyone ever challenges your beard (in word or deed), then simply say a prayer that one day they will see the light.” Some people see Picaso’s work and think it’s a worthless mess of brush strokes. Others see his work as a thing of genius. The same is true for beards. And i, my friends, look at a well manicured beard with the same level respect as i look at the original Picasso “Stary Night” painting on my wall. Nuff said.
XOXO,
-Scott
PS – hehehe

121 Ed Haston January 28, 2011 at 8:05 pm

There seemed to be many “unwritten rules” about not having corporate hair and having worked for a wall street firm in the early 90s it was just not done. Also, if I were on the job market and interviewing I would not take a chance that my interviewer had a prejudice so would certainly keep clean then (unless interviewing for a job as Santa at Macy’s).

Other than the interviewing part I think it is all down to is the look clean and neat and does it work for you. in the past I have seen articles in Men’s Health about recommended beard type for face shape.

Personally, I grow it on the weekend and keep clean shaven for work. Mostly because it is starting to turn grey !

122 Allen January 28, 2011 at 9:43 pm

As a bearded 29 y.o. I have enjoyed reading the comments. While I work in education and not in business, I can offer this much; I think the simplest way to address it is to look at it as a double edged sword. During interviews (24 y.o.) it did set me off as older/more mature looking, though I have a feeling some looked at it as a sign of rebellion/non-conformity (and I keep mine very tight… and I suggest that for anyone working in a “professional” setting to do the same). And as silly/stupid as this sounds, I feel people see my beard and then think of me as smarter/more worldly than what I really am… or ever projected (this is not always a positive).

My father was a small business owner, and when I didn’t have a job offer in the 1st month he STRONGLY suggested I shave my beard off. I never did and still received quite a few job offers. Take that for what it is worth.

I have these last few words of advice. First, I love my beard and I am glad I have a job where I know my beard is excepted (having it when hired let me know that they will never complain). Second, and just a harsh reality, being “young” and having a beard means everyone and their brother are going to give you their opinion on it – positive or not. Not only did my friends who knew me well before I ever grew it give me their comments, but people I only knew for a short while suggested I shave it to see what I look like. I could never imagine telling someone I recently meet that they should change their hair, or start wearing different clothes, but trust me, people will make such comments on your beard – though I have had way more compliments than negatives on it. Either way, enjoy the beard for however long you wear it.

123 Peter K. January 28, 2011 at 10:15 pm

From my own experiences, a young man in business (specifically between the ages of 20-29) will still be looked down upon for sporting a beard. Learning the hard way, I believe this can be attributed to a number of subconscious cultural phenomena.

Firstly, beards (as well as moustaches) have always been a sign of maturity, older age and experience. When we think of the stereotypical old man, a thick white beard almost always comes to mind. A very young man, particularly one in his early 20’s is very frowned upon for sporting facial hair that quite unnaturally add years to his face.

Secondly, it often looks out of place and frankly, most young men seldom understand how to properly maintain and trim their facial hair. Thus, a full beard often ends up with a disheveled and dingy look, which can never have a place in business. A moustache often comes off looking ironic or hipster-ish. The only facial hair I’ve seen consistently work well is the goatee. It is easily maintained, add a few “experience years” to the face, but does not in any way seem out of place.

Thirdly, a slightly older man (at least 30 and older) can often sport such facial hair without fear of reprisal. These men often use this to their advantage in business. A full and well-maintained beard can be a power statement that can give the aura of, “I have elevated to such a level that I no longer need to worry about being clean shaven in my business.” However, many men with quickly graying facial hair choose to remove it, in fear that they will look TOO old.

In closing, I truly believe that it is nothing more than vanity. If you can carry the beard, maintain it and wear it in absolute confidence, it will never hurt you. However, few people are truly prepared for the arduous and scrupulous work in keeping those follicles visible to the business world.

124 Kevin January 28, 2011 at 10:15 pm

Hey all,
My name is Kevin Singh and a sikh. If some of you are well aware, we sikhs keep our beard and never cut them.
I live in Thailand where the facial hair is generally regarded as mark of distrust. I have been asked by many why I do not cut my beard or trim it as a lot of Sikhs nowadays do here to be able to fit in. I have always however tied it and keep it clean. Professionally, I can say that despite my credentials, I had been turned down a couple of times due to my facial hair but I am lucky to be able to work in a good company now where they don’t mind the beard and even some of our big customers (in the government or big multinational corporates) are impressed. They always give me compliments on my beard.
So brother, go ahead and enjoy the beard.

125 sean January 28, 2011 at 10:20 pm

I work in an office environment, and during the Thanksgiving Holiday – I started growing out a beard. When I returned back to the office, I was met with a fair response. To be fair my facial hair comes in rather full – so it didn’t look like a dead rat on my face during that awkward growing in phase.

The trick is grooming. Make sure to keep it shaped as it grows in (cleaning the neck line does wonders for making it look neat). Even if it’s not grown in full yet, regular trimming also helps keep it looking neat. It evens out the growth, not to mention that it helps while you go though that “itchy phase”. Finally, even though I don’t comb my hair (kept high and tight), I do run a mustache comb though my beard.

Has it hurt my career? I was notified today that I got a promotion I have been after for a while.

126 Michael January 28, 2011 at 10:50 pm

I have nothing against a full good-looking beard. I worked in a couple of large corporations. Most people were clean shaven, but there were some with beards, mostly Van Dykes (which many confuse with goatees).

This is how I see it. The beard needs to be thick enough to look like a beard. People whose best beard still looks like scruff should shave. Keep it relatively short and trimmed to look nice. In my opinion, a full beard looks better and more professional than Van Dykes, goatees, and other scraps of hair on the chin.

127 Brad Alexander January 28, 2011 at 11:15 pm

I wished it didn’t matter but sadly I think it does. Depends on the profession/trade of course. Bring back the facial hair.

128 James B. January 28, 2011 at 11:36 pm

As simply a matter of personal opinion, seeing as I don’t work in a white-collared business setting, I say run with it. I think black guys pull off a suit and well trimmed beard/facial hair combo flawlessly. Something like Taye Diggs or Andre Benjamin and you’d have no trouble with potential employers/clients. Good luck.

129 Joey K January 28, 2011 at 11:49 pm

I’ve had one for years, I keep it trimmed and my neck shaven though. I also feel some men can “pull it off,” some can’t. Above all if your actions are professional and you respect all your co-workers you should be fine.

130 Rush January 29, 2011 at 12:25 am

Great responses by all. Just wanted to add that when VERY well maintained, facial hair can show an even greater extent of care is exercised in one’s personal grooming. It’s far more work to maintain a well trimmed beard and/or mustache than to simply drag a razor across your face every morning. Having served full time in the military, my early days of mustache wearing were strictly regulated by dress and appearance standards. I’ve kept to those standards and have no issues with looking less than professional. Depending on the business and one’s position, I would think a meticulously maintained beard might make one look a bit more mature/experienced. Give it a shot!

131 Alejandro January 29, 2011 at 12:49 am

At my first job as a grocery store sacker, the company wouldn’t let male employees grow facial hair. Eventually they changed their policy, but I don’t think too many places outside of the military now have such strict facial hair requirements. My facial hair is too dark and thick for me to stay clean-shaven anyway. I have a five o’clock shadow at high noon! I’ve had a moustache and sometimes either a goatee or a full beard for the better part of the past 22 years. But, men who grow any kind of facial hair and work in almost any type of profession must keep it all well-trimmed and groomed. If I have a full beard – like now – I shampoo it nightly and comb it regularly. I don’t let it grow too far above the jaw line and I definitely don’t let it grown down below the jaw line. I also shave the area just below the nasal septum, the center of the upper lip. I keep the rest of the hair trimmed as short as reasonably possible. My barber often does it for me, but I also have a Norelco trimmer.

A buddy and former coworker of mine grew a goatee some years ago, but he also let his hair grow long. He ended up looking like he’d gone to Woodstock and got lost! At one point he volunteered to travel out of town for an off-site assignment, but our manager chose someone else. Later that manager confided in me that he would have sent my constituent, but he was afraid the other man’s physical appearance wouldn’t set a good example for our company. While some companies may not have a specific policy about men’s facial hair, most have grooming standards. A man has to consider his overall appearance – not just his facial hair.

132 Mark Vernon January 29, 2011 at 7:57 am

I had a job proposal on the proviso that I shaved my beard off. I naturally told them where to go. I was also shocked at the belief that discrimination based on facial hair was accepted by my friends as perfectly normal and to be expected. The current job I have, I was interviewed for by someone with a beard.

I find people underestimate me because I have a beard. Their opinion is that I’m obviously too dense to understand that professional people should be clean shaven. This gives me a lot of opportunity that I make the most of because people very quickly get used to the fact you have a beard.

It is my belief that as a man I should have a beard and I will continue to. When I meet the small minded I merely pity them.

133 Tristan January 29, 2011 at 8:19 am

While I am an advocate for the beard, I’m not so sure its a good idea (career-wise) for a business professional. Like Brett said, beards are coming back and depending on who you’re working with/for it might be cool. On the other hand, tattoos have had an even bigger rise in popularity and you still can’t show them at most workplaces, so you really have to gauge your individual situation.

134 Paul January 29, 2011 at 8:58 am

I think the fact you are asking this question means that you already know the answer.
However, it depends what your workmates and clients are like.
Being a man in business often means you have to show outwardly that you are conforming, that you are temporarily giving up your individuality to become part of a larger structure – that is why so many men wear the same thing at work – either a uniform or a suit.
I think this is because men are dangerous – they can live entirely independently, take decisions that are for the benefit of themselves only,exist without support or companionship. In a work situation it is important to show that you have put all this aside.
This is not true for women, which is why they get to wear pretty much what they want to work … often with disastrous result, i’m sure you will agree.

So, my final judgement? On your time do what you want, on company time do what is best for the company – to me, that means no facial hair.

135 John Goeffrey Jeffries January 29, 2011 at 10:14 am

Just wanted to say that everyone’s helpful comments have given me the confidence to grow out my half-beard. Though it is only a day old, and though I’m beginning to look like Harvey Dent in The Dark Knight (except with facial hair), the respect shown to me has increased exponentially. If you’re a man cursed with a thick beard, or a half of one, if that’s the case, embrace it. Keep it neat. Don’t let yourself look like a hippie, and others won’t be able to ignore your manliness. Which leads me to this question: What kind of a man would shave his beard for $10? You, Scott, are a fraud. You’re not a man, but a man-child. I think we can all agree that if you really care about having a beard, you don’t just shave it willy-nilly. You care for it, like a Chia Pet.

136 Michael January 29, 2011 at 11:03 am

I would actually say that having a full beard has helped my career in sales. Granted I’m a sales rep in the camping field:-) so it may add a subliminal degree of credibilty

137 pnwskip January 29, 2011 at 11:13 am

Hey Cornell,
I have had a moustache since the mid 70′s and it did become a trade mark as I worked my way through professions in public safety and healthcare. Recently, on a whim, I decided to grow a goatee/mustache combination (called a door knocker). I was suprised at the very positive response. Professional associates have responded positively and female friends say I look much younger. I think the key is neat and well groomed, I trim about three times weekly and careful to shave around it very mornng.
GO FOR IT!!

138 HF January 29, 2011 at 11:29 am

Cornel,
I am in Outside Sales as well and have just gotten a month into my beard. I am of the opinion that if you are good it doesn’t much matter beard or not. If you have the skills and you have some growth on your face that looks good. Best case you are a person that they remember. Just remember to rock that beard with no apologies…people sense insecurity. If you do DO it!

139 Gary January 29, 2011 at 12:46 pm

I had the same question some years back. I have a short jawline and if I don’t keep my chin up it sort of disappears into my neck, making my face look round and ineffectual. Also I’ve always looked younger than my age. I had grown my beard to accent my jawline.
Since part of my job in copier repair was meeting customers I wondered if I’d look more professional without the beard. I went to the office the next morning completely clean-shaven and the first person I ran into was the Service Manager. I guess he was trying to be funny, and he asked, “Gary, are you worth a sh*t?” That pretty much told me I needed to grow the beard back. I also got a vibe from the customers that they didn’t think I knew what I was doing.
For me, there are two caveats with a beard in a business setting. One is to keep the neck clean. It looks much better. Stubble on the neck (and cheeks, for that matter) looks untidy and will give the impression of lack of attention to detail. A sculpted beard looks good, but shouldn’t give the impression of something that you spend an inordinate amount of time on. That smacks of vanity.
The second is from John Molloy’s “Dress for Success”. He mentions that goatees do not test well in his opinion surveys. He’s not sure why. It may be because people associate it with all the stereotypical images of the Devil. In any case, people may see goatee wearers as untrustworthy. I personally dislike goatees without mustaches nad soul patches.

140 tom January 29, 2011 at 1:19 pm

“It is what is inside that counts.” “Don’t judge a book by its cover.”

While we would wish that these two statements were true … they are not. Other people do judge us by our exterior, long before they get chance to figure out what we are like on the inside. By then it may be too late as they will have already made up their mind.

Unfortunately, we subconsciously think someone with a beard has something to hide. “People who cover their face do so because they don’t want us to see their expressions.” That is what our subconscious mind is telling us when we first meet someone with a beard.

I would love to grow a full beard but my livelihood partly depends on me making a good first impression and I worry that people will see a beard as a negative thing.

141 Scott January 29, 2011 at 3:06 pm

Greetings again, gentlemen. And greeting to you as well, Mr Jeffries (not a gentleman from what i can tell). Your confidence to challenge me openly in this blogging formum is understandable given the fact that you have now decided to abandon your clean shavenness in hopes to find a better, more satisfying life as a bearded man. But let me tell you this, you don’t know me nor do you know my beard. And you have no clue the thought i had put behind the $10 dollar beard shaving ransom. If indeed someone paid me $10 to shave my beard, i would instantly take that $10 (of 100% pure profit) and invest it in a new beard trimmer guard for my electric beard trimmer. Then i would re-grow my beard (which would take around a week), and i would drive to the man’s house (or woman’s house) who paid me the $10 to shave. I would then let them see my newly trimmed beard for themself. If he or she didn’t faint from admiration, i would then inform him or her that this beard was grown & groomed with the help of their $10 donation which allowed me to purchase my new beard trimmer. The irony may be so overwhelming, and the message so powerful that this individual who originally paid me to shave my beard will likely want to grow a beard themself (even if it is a woman). Since this is likely to be the case (69% chance), i would then give them the $10 trimmer guard that i bought for myself, and let he or she have it to groom his or her own beard going forward (this is much like the pay it forward concept if you’ve seen the movie “pay it forward.”).

So as you can see, the $10 beard ransom is what we in business call a “win win.” If no one pays me the $10, then i keep the beard forever (which is a win). Or if someone does pay me the $10 to shave my beard, then judging by my estimation above they will ultimately end up with a beard as well (man or woman), and it will only take me one week to grow my beard back. So now i have added another beard to the world (also a win). So as you can see here, Mr Jeffries, i am no phony. Quite the contrary is true. i am so committed to spreading the beard growing tradition to all men (and women) around the world, that i am willing to shave my beard for $10 with the concrete knowledge that it is a forgone conclusion that this original “beard hater” who paid me money to shave my beard will one day soon have a beard for himself (or herself). As Pablo Picaso once said, “If ya ain’t got hair on your face and on your nuts, you probably are nuts.”

Grow it clean and grow it proud,
-Scott

142 Brian Cormack Carr January 29, 2011 at 3:49 pm

Loved this post. Very topical for me too, because – due to an allergic reaction – I recently had to go without shaving for a couple of weeks. I’m pretty much my own boss (and the boss of the charity I work for) so I didn’t have any fears about being looked down upon by “them up there”…but I did have some concerns that my sudden and unexpected beardiness would detract from my relationships with my peers and strategic partners.

Not a bit of it – most didn’t notice (or if they did, they didn’t say); several complimented me on my new hirsute look; and I even closed one of the biggest deals of my career during that hairy two-week period. I also made more progress in launching my first online info product than I’d been making in several weeks before.

Not sure if that’s connected – and I’ve had no adverse effects to getting rid of the beard – but I certainly know it didn’t hurt me.

143 Southside Phil January 29, 2011 at 4:06 pm

Following in my father’s tradition, every winter I grow a beard, which usually runs from the first frost till we get a week of above-freezing days. (I live in Chicago.) I work for a law firm and have found this to be acceptable, provided however, I keep it trimmed and well-groomed. I’ve also discovered that my beard has influenced other men in my firm who have also taken to growing–although on a smaller scale–facial hair in the winter months.

I like being clean shaven in the summer, but in the winter I find that keeping a beard is a man’s way of thanking God, nature, and society that he is a man and that he can keep his face warm during those cold Middle-American months. I take great pride in it.

144 Ed Rowell January 29, 2011 at 4:53 pm

I lean toward the clean-shaven look for professionals. A big reason is that few men can objectively gauge their own appearance. A lot of men think they look good in a beard when in reality they really don’t. I have a thick beard around my chin, but much thinner on my cheeks. Because I tend to look at it head on, I can fool myself, but I see other guys with thin beards and it just looks scraggly. If you have a nice thick beard, you can get away with it easier. Keep the neck clean-shaven though, otherwise you look like an extra from Deliverance.
I have an associate who’s had a beard for the past few months. He’s blond and balding on top; his beard is very thin and scraggly and what little there is is gray. He says his wife thinks it looks rugged, but the vast majority of the rest of us think it makes him look like a hobo.
Unless you’re getting about 99% positive feedback, save the fuzzy face for vacation.

145 Ed B January 29, 2011 at 5:12 pm

I’ve struggled with this conventional wisdom for many years. some people just don’t trust those of us with facial hair. My conclusion is this: success does require some level of self-presentation (even movie stars). So, if the overall look is professional, healthy, open, well-put together, then go with the beard. it also depends to some degree on the occupation/profession. An English professor will have a better time with a beard than a banker.

146 Matthew Rathbun January 29, 2011 at 5:25 pm

Thank you Commander William T Riker for setting the standard!

I’ve been a professional instructor for about nine years and have had a full, but well trimmed beard the entire time. Only once has anyone ever said anything and it was a much older gentleman how gave me high marks at the end of an all day program. The only comment was that he “usually had a hard time trusting people with beards”.

One of out thousands :)

None-the-less, it requires constant trimming and grooming like anything else. I’ve tried twice to shave it and my wife wouldn’t even talk to me. At the end of the day, I’ll do what I can to make her happy – not the grumpy old guy from a class years ago.

147 Guy Miller January 29, 2011 at 8:37 pm

I believe if you keep it trim and neat there should not be an impact, especially if it looks good on you. Then just concentrate on your performance.

148 Anthony Corps January 30, 2011 at 1:10 am

If you keep your face clean shaven, you’d be shoulding all over yourself!

149 Rob January 30, 2011 at 1:26 am

John Geoffrey Jeffries left a hurtful comment about scott who was stating why he thinks a beard is worth having in the work place. you can always trust someone who hasn’t read the post, or watched the video to chime in trying to slam someone for their opinion. he really sounds like a gentleman. i think that an apology is in order. for scott merely stated his opinion, and john felt like attacking him for being silly. obviously scott wasn’t being serious, but john just takes life more serious then the rest of us, therefore allowing him to pass judgement on people he doesn’t agree with. were the generals in the civil war not gentlemen? was samson not a manly man? what is wrong with these references? john says that he comes to this website for all his information on becoming a man, yet boyishly attacks scott. that just seems a bit off to me. john leave him alone. how can you say that you are a facial hair aficionado when you can’t even grow it? (i know that was a low blow, and very childish, but i couldn’t resist)

150 Karl January 30, 2011 at 2:41 am

Here are some pointers on facial hair in the office:

1) before an interview/meeting with a company rep, do some research about the company. If their dress code prohibits facial hair, their employees will have been cultured to view it as unprofessional.

2) You’re always going to find people that believe it is unprofessional. To be fair, you’re also going to find people who believe it’s ok to wear brown shoes with a black belt. If these people are interviewing you for a job/business partnership, then they are probably not well suited for a professional relationship. Chances are the professionalism of facial hair won’t be the only place you disagree.

3) overall appearance is what matters. If you act professional and stay well groomed you can get away with a lot. To that same point, a beard is still a daily maintenance item. If you aren’t shaving and edging around your beard daily and trimming it weekly, your beard is not professional by anyones standard. You’re simply finding a way around shaving, and that will be construed as laziness

I wore a beard for the 2.5 years I worked as a financial advisor between firefighting jobs in my late 20s because it made me look older, more seasoned, more professional. It was a good looking but high maintenance hairstyle. Now that I’m back in the fire service, beards are prohibited because it interferes with the seal of our face mask. I still grow out the beard whenever I am on vacation though!

151 Shane January 30, 2011 at 10:10 am

A beard is much like a well-made suit. When worn properly, it can enhance the look of a man, accentuating his character, and highlighting his charismatic qualities. However, neither a suit, nor a beard, has the ability to mask undesirable traits. Poor posture, laziness, and similar attributes remain easily observable.

I have had a beard for years, and at the age of 24 have recently interviewed for a position with one of the largest and most conservative financial institutions in the world. Despite having kept the beard for the interview, I was offered the position I applied for and I am currently being considered for a promotion to a supervisory position. Additionally, five of the six gentlemen that I work with in my department have now made some attempt to grow a beard. It was successful for some, unsuccessful for others.

This is one example to illustrate my opinion about beards in the workplace. It may not be applicable in all situations, and I certainly do not claim that it would be generalizable to any other situations. To do so would be to make inappropriate use of availability heuristics and that can be a dangerous thing. My advise, ultimately: use the beard like a tool for self presentation. Keep it and yourself neat, clean, and sharp. It will reward you handsomely.

152 JT January 30, 2011 at 11:05 am

Thanks for the beard time line Brett. I like what you said about the beard potentialy becoming Cornel’s personal trade mark for his current and new business. I just shaved my beard after 6 months of growth. I was worked a corperate gig during the time of my beard and got alot of mixed reviews. While the beard was growing in people always had some comment/joke to make about it. I found that when the beard became full and I shaped it up it a bit, I got nothing but respect for the beard from almost everyone. One jerk out side of the office did call me Osama and i punched him, another asked if i was training to be come a rabbi; so i punched him too. But other than that it seemed to go over well in the office. I start a new job on monday that i interviewed for with the beard and got the position. I had to have a small surgery on my chin that i at first shaved a small hole in my beard for but then it looked like some one was ice fishing on my face or tunneling through the forest to get to my chin so I shaved the whole thing off. Any ways I ran into the guy that hired me for my new job without my beard and he didn’t recognise me. Once i told him who i was he said jokeingly that he may have to fire me now that I don’t have the beard… I am growing my beard back and I think cornel that you should too. Now how do you spell check this mother f***er…

153 Matt January 30, 2011 at 6:14 pm

I go back and forth wearing a beard in my position in sales management at a very conservative transportation company. The trick is in the beard itself. Neat and trimmed, and worn as if it isn’t there at all. Don’t fiddle with it, groom it in the morning and if it won’t stay neat all day, then trim it. If trimming makes it look scraggly I’d personally shave it. One of the big deals is watching the grow out. I can pull it off in about a week, so when I grow it back in the fall usually, I time it for some time off, or a holiday.

Like Shane said, it’s like a suit. I’ve known guys who can make a suit that I know is hand tailored wear like a gunny sack, and guys who can buy anything off of any rack and make it look good. Same with beards. The same one on one guy will look scruffy, and on another look neat and clean.

Looking over my answer, I guess that’s a yes and a no. Personally, I don’t think a beard will hinder you, but that it will give a hook to hang any other judgements about you on. “His sales numbers are falling…Hmm. Beard.” Kind of thing.

154 TMS January 30, 2011 at 7:28 pm

It also may depend on where you live. In the northern Midwest and I’m sure elsewhere in the mountain west a beard is no biggie.

Down south or in the hoity toity New York – may be different.

I’ve always had a beard, neatly trimmed and have not felt that I’ve suffered business-wise. I’m in sales if that matters.

155 Jonny Gibaud January 31, 2011 at 2:14 am

Very interesting listening to the history of beard culture.

I believe the most important point to take from this video is that the appropriateness of a beard depends on your own Personal Brand and your business clientele.

156 James January 31, 2011 at 3:30 am

“At the age of 24 … ” Ha!

Never bothered with the video. Why watch and listen when I can read in a quarter of the time?

157 Landon S. Holder January 31, 2011 at 4:44 am

Such wonderful commentary!
Cornel- firstly, I have to acknowledge your ambition as an independant business owner. Kudos to you, my friend! I want to also acknowledge your appreciation of the beard. Being bearded myself I find that men willing to, not only acknowledge the beard but, also embrace its potential have a keen eye for style. Whilst many will tell you that fashion is cyclical (Oscar Wilde went so far as to say that “fasion is an ugliness so absurd it must be changed every six months”) I truly believe in the one resonating phrase that points towards the answer to your questions of appropriateness: simply because you are in style does not mean that you have style.
In short, I encourage your beardom. African-American beards can be particularly powerful and stylish if worn appropriately (bear in mind previous comments correlating beards and suits). If you search the internet I think you’ll find more than enough examples of such (check the sartorliast’s blog at http://www.thesartorialist.blogspot.com/ and about a quarter of the way down the page you’ll find a picture under the title “On the Street….Duo, Pitti Uomo”- you’ll find some stylish gentleman there). Even if these dapper young men don’t reflect your personal style the lesson to be learned is that a beard is nothing more than a tool for your use. Whether it is as a style trademark or simply something you appreciate wearing I doubt you’ll find it silly or inappropriate. The face of modern business is changing and I encourage you to pioneer it as best you can.
Pinnacle to all other factors is the sense that you own the beard, and that it is part of you and not some ridiculous accesory such as a blackberry hooked to your belt (I know who all of you are- I see you coming). Keeping a beard neat and well groomed is more than essential; without such grooming one tends to look vagrant and despondent. So treat your potential beard well!
I wish everyone the best in 2011- embrace your manhood and good fortune will surely come your way.

158 Dave January 31, 2011 at 5:38 am

I stopped shaving two weeks ago. Being asian and 29, my facial hair only grows above the lip and around the chin area. I wasn’t so sure it was a good idea to let it grow until a lady at work today said it looked demonic… I think it’s a keeper.

159 Charlotte January 31, 2011 at 6:48 am

From the perspective of a lady with a bearded gentleman-friend I think it can sometimes add years to the wearers age when cut appropriately and therefore enhance people’s impressions of them as an upstanding member of society and give them more authority in the work-place.

On the other hand I also believe that beards should only be grown at points where the gentleman in question isn’t working, to avoid the ‘I stayed up late and forgot to shave’ look.

I’m a great admirer of your blog. Great post!

160 Mark January 31, 2011 at 10:27 am

I have to agree with Shane. If maintained well and presented as intentional (not looking like you just forgot to shave for a week), then, it definitely adds to a man’s character. I also agree that it could be good for your business, again, if maintained well. I’ve worn a full beard for 10 years, BUT I work in higher education where beards of all styles are common. In fact, I’m due for a trim this morning…

161 Bryan January 31, 2011 at 12:43 pm

I have never experienced professional problems due to having a beard. I wear a trimmed moutee. In my particular field (data analysis consultant), a well-kept beard can actually be a small asset, since it helps project particular image of “I’m all over numbers.”

162 Mike January 31, 2011 at 1:04 pm

I have worn many variations of facial hair over the years from full beard to beard sans the mustache and from mutton chops to a chin curtain. In all, I have kept the facial hair trimmed, neatly sculpted, and clean. Another commenter said to wear the beard like it’s not there. I couldn’t agree more. If you look like you’re trying to look like you’re wearing a beard, you will look like a teenager sprouting his first bit of peach fuzz. Be a man. Wear a beard. If you like the look and feel confident about it, you’ll project that confidence. That’s a plus in any field.

By the way, I currently have a beard with no ‘stache and I’ve been promoted twice in the last six month in the corporate office of a large retail chain.

163 Larry January 31, 2011 at 9:54 pm

If your beard is well-kept and short, that’s not so bad. Understand, however, that some people dislike bearded men because a beard hides some of your facial expressions. As a result, they think of you as less open and honest. As a salesperson, I’d say skip the beard–it’s more work than shaving daily anyway.

164 Richard February 1, 2011 at 1:38 pm

I work in mental health, and the beard has never been a problem for me.
My only advice is to keep it trim and neat, my patients definitely don’t like the grizzly look (even if i am a fan of the outdoorsy lost in the Alaskan wilderness type of facial hair myself!).

Also, get your neckline professionally done the first time, this is what makes or breaks a beard in my opinion. Too many guys shave it too high, too low or even worse at the wrong angle for the face… Shell out the 10$ and support your neighborhood barber at the same time!

I would like to echo Mike’s comment that it’s all about the confidence lads!
I wear my face fur proudly, and that’s what makes it work!

165 James Joseph February 1, 2011 at 3:48 pm

Having a beard won’t hurt you if you’re a Fransiscan friar and dedicate your life to living among the poor and destitute.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4frzb-mre2Y

+++
alms. fasting. prayer.

166 PJ February 1, 2011 at 4:14 pm

If it worked for one of the manliest of all Starfleet officers, Commander Riker, there’s no reason it can’t work for you.

167 Pete February 1, 2011 at 9:54 pm

I agree very much with the poster who mentioned what part of the country you’re from. I think If you live in the north or west, beard, otherwise maybe not. But the style vs place might break down differently if you’re African American- for instance where I live in upstate NY about half the white guys, like me, have beards, but seems like most of the black guys older than 25 or so are either shaved totally clean (head and face) or have dreads in which case they may have beards too. Also I lived in NYC for a while and that place is an exception- if you have a beard it will be interpreted as a fashion statement so you have to be ready to feel comfortable with that.

2 more pros and cons that others posts haven’t mentioned:

Relationships – If you are single: I think women (and men) are split about 50/50 on whether they like beards. So you may be trading in one group who likes the way you look for another different group. I’ve been told something similar happens when people shave their heads- attracts a whole different type. If you are married or in a long term relationship, consider that your partner probably likes you the way you are and might not like your new look- you should at least ask her (or him).

Hair type vs skin sensitivity – If I shave every day with a razor it really irritates my skin especially on my cheeks and under my chin, so I feel much better with facial hair for this reason alone.

168 Jay February 2, 2011 at 1:22 am

An attorney I had occasion to employ, shaved off the beard he had when I first met him. Upon asking why, he stated that in law school, one of the profs had warned the men that facial hair could hurt their practise, as some 10% of people have an irrational bias against facial hair of any kind. After several years in successful practise, he’d grown the beard to test the profs statement, and did indeed feel his business had suffered as a result. I’d just happened to meet him prior to the end of his experiement. There are no proofs offered other than the subjective feelings of one attorney, who felt that the presence of facial hair wasn’t worth the cost of potential business.
Does that mean one cannot be successful in business with facial hair? Of course not. It is an individual choice; but one that, at least according to the aforementioned attorney, could have potential consequences. Ultinmately, the decision of whether or not to pursue one’s business with or without facial hair must be weighed against whether one places any stock in such beliefs. It could be said though, that the mere asking of the question would tend toward such belief. Make your choice, stick to your personal convictions, and enjoy your life.

169 SMB February 2, 2011 at 2:03 am

As long as the beard is kept neat, there should be no problem. I think times have changed–when my father began working at a major bank in the ’70s, he shaved off his hippy beard from college, much to the surprise of his friends and my mother. Now, over thirty years later, he’s grown it back. He says that the unstated standards of appearance have loosened a fair bit over the decades (banking is fairly conservative but he gets to wear business casual most days).

170 What Should Men Wear February 2, 2011 at 4:45 am

I think there isn’t a unique recipe whether to grow a beard or not, a guy just has to consider his own personal style and try – how does he look with a beard and without it.

171 Allan White February 4, 2011 at 12:13 pm

I live in Portland, Ore. – America’s Beardiest City! Had a full one for about 5 years, so does the boss (we work in a faith-based non-profit, where jeans were banned until a few years ago).

I grow fast. I trim it very short every 2-3 days. None of that scraggly stuff. If you have a patchy growth pattern, maybe the short beard isn’t for you.

And the neck-beard is *right out*. That just looks sloppy. I shave that and on the cheek daily. Looks crisp & distinguished. Trim the hedges, boys!

172 Phil February 7, 2011 at 2:28 pm

I have worn a circle beard since I was a teenager. I’ve been clean shaven for maybe 4 months of the last 18 years or so. My beard has been one of the driving forces in my professional success. I carry a lot of education and experience in my field for a man of 34, and I have been told by my superiors that the beard makes me appear a bit older and more experienced than my years would imply. I have embraced the beard as my personal brand, and it has really helped me to stand out. I have a weak chin with a cleft, a scar, and a growing second chin that I like to keep covered if possible. I have used the circle beard to give me a more prominent, noble “chin” to help with my profile. I do a lot of public speaking and may only see clients a couple of times per year, but I find I am easier to remember because of my unique appearance. Additionally, I find that I get an instant level of respect from many men for the willingness to be bearded and having the genetics to grow a quality beard. Keep in mind, many people in the business world are not clean-shaven by choice, they are clean-shaven because they can’t grow a quality beard.

173 Jeremy February 7, 2011 at 2:52 pm

I am a bald man who keeps a beard, also in sales. Remember great men of our past kept a beard. Best of all my wife loves it!

174 Charlene February 8, 2011 at 12:04 pm

@PJ, you made my day!!! Commander Riker was (or is that ‘will be’ since, technically he lives in the future??) quite manly with his beard. Cornell, I think beards are wonderful and whatever type of person you are, your beard will reflect that!

175 Simon February 8, 2011 at 9:45 pm

I’ve always been interested in facial hair, and after going off to university, I decided to try and grow a beard during my first year. It didn’t go too well, but after a good shave and a reattempt, it started to come out something like what I wanted. Over the years since then, it’s developed into a decent moustache and goatee combo, which my family and friends have come to see as part of my appearance – if I shave them off (which I do about once or twice a year), they’re shocked at the difference!

Also, my male friends and family members don’t do facial hair, so it was kind of risk trying to do something different to my contemporaries. However, after having worked with the local youth service, and seeing almost every male member of staff there wearing a beard of some sort, it kind of reaffirmed to me that it’s actually something to be proud of. Over here at least (in the UK), the beard is starting to regain that “mark of trust” status, with the accompanying assumption that the man with a beard has some knowledge/worldliness about him.

So yeah, go ahead and try it – if it doesn’t look/feel right, it’s only a few minutes work to go back to being clean shaven! But trust me, it does feel/look really cool if it works out!

176 Robert February 8, 2011 at 9:51 pm

The last year I was in Art School, and from then on, I kept sort of a scruffy five o’clock shadow. Played it safe, not a beard, but not shaven either. Every time I saw my father he’d ask “are you growing a beard or not?” My dad, going on thirty years for a large company, Army man, farmer’s son- clean shaven was always the norm for him. So I assumed it was for me, as well.

Fast forward a couple of years, and I’m clean shaven, in a shirt and tie, teaching at a college, basically looking like everyone else there, and it drove me crazy. I remember clicking through the TV, and Spike was playinge Episode 3, and I saw Ewan McGreggor as Obi Wan Kenobi, and thought “now there’s a man I should look like.” So I basically threw away the razor and grew a beard.

That was around a year and a half ago, and to date no one has mentioned anything in the negative. My students have even started heading their papers “Dr. Brown,” and the only thing that’s changed is my facial hair =) Some of my colleagues are now sporting beards and mustachios of their own. Perhaps I’ve started a revolution?

Whatever you choose, do it for you. Do whatever you think reflects you. But for the love of God, get a PROPER beard, no soul patches!

177 Paul February 10, 2011 at 10:29 am

I live in Korea where being older is a major workplace advantage. The beard puts a couple years on me and means I get talked down to much less by superiors.

178 Jason February 10, 2011 at 5:53 pm

I grew my beard out about a year ago. At the time, I mostly grew it out because I was too tired to bother with shaving after having been up at night with our baby. It looked pretty scraggly at first, but no one at work seemed to care.

After the initial grow-out, I began to trim it with clippers and shape it with a razor, and it really started looking good. I felt more manly and confident. My mom even said my beard was quite flattering (I’m still a momma’s boy, so the compliment made me feel good).

Before this semester began (I’m a teacher), I shaved the beard off to see how I look without it. As soon as I shaved it off, I thought, “How did I go 33 years without my manly man-hairs on my visage.” I felt lost, naked even, and my confidence fell. Others who knew me as a bearded man didn’t like the boyish presence that engulfed me without my manly face-hairs.

I have since grown the beard back. I keep it shaped and trimmed. I usually trim it with a number 2 or sometimes a number 1. I feel great, even better now because I previously had long hair down to my shoulders. I recently got a hair cut, and I must say, I really like the shorter hair with the beard.

In all honesty, I’ve not really witnessed much beard discrimination in the work place. I do keep it trimmed and professional looking, and I shape it so as to do away with the splotchly areas closer to my cheeks, resulting in a mustache plus chinstrap combination I guess, because I don’t think splotchy beards look cool and because I don’t want to look like Grizzly Adams.

179 Don February 11, 2011 at 8:24 pm

Hey Paul I also live in Korea. I have hesitated growing a beard mainly because my generation in Korea don’t look well upon it, especially the women. Still being young I would hate to lose the advantage that being clean shaven gives me in my relationships but at the same time I wonder about the professional level. Do you really feel that much of a difference in respect in your work?

180 Todd February 12, 2011 at 11:05 pm

I have worked with teenagers as a teacher, coach and pastor for twenty years. I can grow a beard pretty easily and so I sometimes do. Every time I shave it both guys and girls tell me to grow it back. Why? It’s cool, that’s why. Good people know this instinctively. Even young people agree. Here’s a timeless truth: a great beard is universally cool and if a man can grow one then he is morally obligated to do so. Great men grow beards, period.

181 Patrick February 13, 2011 at 4:57 pm

I live in a suburb of Chicago, have worked for myself as a General Contractor and carpenter for 34 years. My clientele is exclusively professionals who are themselves clean-cut [every one of them]. I have grown beards several times over the years but I won’t do it when I am in need of work because I am convinced that my potential customers feel more comfortable with someone who looks more like them. In fact, I think some of them are a little intimidated by blue collar workers who are a little too rough around the edges. After the prospect becomes a customer and they get to know me better I feel comfortable growing a beard. I still keep it neat and always shave it off for the hot summers we have. In summary I think it depends on your clientele.

182 Bill Groover February 24, 2011 at 12:28 am

Will having a beard hurt a man professionally? Even though I have a vested interest in the subject (I sell pre-shave oil, but never to a bearded gentleman) I would have to say, “Yes,” based on my experience. I am a recovering former pastor who served a rather important protestant congregation in a significant Southern city (vague enough for you?). I can remember sitting with my personnel committee on several ocassions when the topic of facial hair came up while discussing possible staff hirings. We had one man, a rather successful business man who sat across the table from a retired Naval officer, complete with a thick, beautiful set of silver “sideburns meeting at the chin,” and say, “I just can’t hire a man with a beard. No offense, Jim.” And Jim would grunt and say, “I fought for this country so you could speak your opinion, so go ahead.” Ironic? Still, in some circles there is a definite discrimination against beards.

On the other, more hopeful hand, others could have leaned toward a handsome, well groomed beard. Were my beard as thick as Jim’s, I would probably have one today. But the reality is not all men, and might I add not all manly men, have thick enough whiskers to grow a good beard.

And the one thing I’d say with certainty on the topic is if you can’t grow a good one, don’t grow a thin one. You’ll look like a wannabe.

And for God sakes, can anyone explain to me the three day stubble that has been popular for several years? That’s got to be as bad as my first attempt when I was 17, and had inch long whiskers every quarter of an inch about my face.

183 Matt November 7, 2012 at 3:04 pm

Matt Here… I think it is mostly genetics, but could anyone please tell me why one half of my beard is longer than the other half? Like, the right side of my face has more hair than the other? Any possible answers?

184 AP February 3, 2013 at 7:47 pm

*Fresh* advice from a brother: give it a try.

I tried growing mustache + beard during last year’s “Movember”. I got great support from man and woman in general, and grew a full-blown mustache that blew people away.

It gathered the respect of man. I outgrew their mustaches. They took that very seriously. I noticed it helped me professionally: people took me seriously and were kinder and more attentive than usual.

Amazing collateral was women’s feedback: they LOVED it. They are RAVING fans of my mustache and beard lol. I learned that facial hair “hypnotizes” the female brain, and they are progressively curious, entertained, delighted and then amazed. They kiss me longer and more often. They can’t contain themselves at the sight of mustache + smile.

What was completely unexpected was to learn that woman “give” man’s facial hair surrealistic power. They credit its attributes (texture, color, quantity, location, size, style) with powers such as attraction, passionate kiss, etc – and develop a “fixation” with it.

Man, let it grow. Don’t fear being ridiculous, even if you can’t style it as you wanted to be. Go for it. But also “learn” from it: it does its own thing. Use your natural assets to your best, brother, and let us know.

185 Wardell June 9, 2013 at 11:31 pm

Cornel,
As a professional African American male in my late 30′s I have this perspective to share. It will not hurt you up to a point. Once you are in the running for an executive position, the expectations of an executive image become stronger. No one will ever tell you not to grow a beard, or say your manner of dress in inappropriate. What they will say is “Cornel has everything he needs to move up to the next level performance wise, but their is something about him that doesn’t seem ready” or “Cornel, why do you look so upset today?, Are you angry?”. These responses are not conscious, they are part of the unconscious bias people have when you do not conform to the unwritten rules of society. The outcome is more missed opportunity than being actively held back. Like any advice you can take it or leave it, but why risk missed opportunity over a little hair?

186 Brx January 19, 2014 at 5:59 pm

There is no hard & fast rule in most cases. It’s very much a cultural and artistic question that depends on quite a number of factors. Facial hair may enhance or detract from the look you are trying to achieve. Like with picking models & actors for advertising, it’s the over-all package look that is important. Do a kind of analysis getting opinions of trusted people who actually know what you look like and how you carry yourself in person. Not everyone looks at beards the same way, so keep your primary audience in mind. Some general rules of thumb for professional team oriented employment: be careful that the beard style says ‘responsible & strong’ but not ‘dominant & intimidating’; it should probably not be styled such that it covers up too much facial expression because lots of important communication happens in the side-channels of non-verbal facial expressions (people with ‘bitchy-resting-face’ are handicapped here); a common tip is to trim/style to let the upper lip show because it tends to convey more openness and honesty of facial expression. If you don’t have a lot of people who can give you honest & detailed feedback on your looks, consider going to a local beauty school where they offer barber services, and ask to have some senior students advise you on the looks you’re hoping to achieve.

187 KP March 8, 2014 at 1:16 am

Cornel,
As a professional European American male in my late 30′s I have this perspective to share. If by wearing a proper beard you feel as though you are pushing some personal or corporate limit, then I recommend against. If by wearing a proper beard you feel more confident and believe yourself to look professional, then I recommend for. Lloyd Blankfein, Steve Jobs, Abraham Lincoln, Grover Cleveland, Roosevelt (Teddy), Taft, and I all wear beards, and wear them well. I would caution that if you are lacking in facial expression projection during contact with customers, a beard will not improve your ability to connect. I believe after about 35, beards are not viewed as countercultural, but before 30, they are. Beards especially focus the conversation on your eyes, so if your eyes look like a 10 year old with botox, you may be viewed as countercultural (the post-WW2 clean shaven, I served my country, corporate culture).

If females ask why you grow a beard, there are plenty of comebacks, but remember this: females may tend to equate beards with manliness, and that may be threatening, or safe, or distinguished, or dirty, or at the same time exciting. But it is attention from the opposite gender nonetheless. How frequently do females approach near strangers and ask why they shaved? Clearly you have captured interest, and for the most part (unless they think you are dirty, which should be reflected in the whole person presentation) capturing interest is an essential part of marketing.

Personally, these are a yes:
http://0.tqn.com/d/americanhistory/1/0/m/9/18_grant_1.jpg
http://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2013/02/18/article-2280717-177BA572000005DC-500_224x380.jpg
http://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2013/02/18/article-2280717-177E0219000005DC-247_224x380.jpg
http://media3.onsugar.com/files/2010/10/43/3/301/3019466/50b38655c2ed4650_hair-on-men/i/What-Hair-Men-Attractive.jpg

But this one is the winner:
http://images2.layoutsparks.com/1/156090/common-cap-man-beard.jpg

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