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 }

1 Matthew Kerr January 27, 2011 at 10:22 pm

I am 22 years old and have been toting a beard for 4 years in my retail jobs. I found that if I were clean shaven, I would look ‘young’ and ‘naive’. I found that, even with my expertise on certain subjects, I wasn’t given full credit due to my ‘age’. With a beard, however, I feel more respected on the sales floor by both fellow employees and customers.

2 Louis P January 27, 2011 at 10:30 pm

I have always heard that men with facial hair are more trusted in business then clean shaven men. I am not sure how true that may be but I frequently sport both and have not encountered any issues.

3 Faisal January 27, 2011 at 10:34 pm

Hey Brett, seems like the video is private. I don’t mind becoming your friend, but is this how you intended it?

4 Diego January 27, 2011 at 10:36 pm

I believe some normal facial hair shouldn’t give you problems. Anything slightly unusual may disturb your peers, I’m talking: very long beards, that french-style moustache (the one that curls on the sides) and anything fancy/very different.

Having had experience in foreign countries I can tell you something. It also depends on the culture. In the middle east, where I worked for 3 years, beard is almost a sign of power and they do appreciate it. On the other hand, in China, where I stayed for 5 years, they don’t appreciate that and I was strongly advised to shave my 15 year old beard and haven’t used it since – it is a sign of poverty.

5 Jordan January 27, 2011 at 10:39 pm

It says it’s a private video.

6 Brett McKay January 27, 2011 at 10:46 pm

For those of you are getting “private video” give it a bit. I had to update it. If you want to watch the video, check this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UZe5Jk0Qk3c

7 Christopher January 27, 2011 at 10:53 pm

This is an interesting question, and I don’t think there is a straightforward yes or no answer. I’ll give my perspective, which is based on my experience in New Zealand (my home) and overseas.

Within professional fields, such as medicine, law and accountancy, beards are often cited as looking unprofessional when worn by younger men. This attitude, however, seems to mainly apply when professionals are actually *asked* their opinions of beards. I sport a short, tidy beard, and when I have pointed out to others that i have a beard they often reply, “Oh, so you do!”. This is mainly because, I believe, my beard is tidy enough that it is just “part of my face”. However, I have no doubt that within a professional field, overly styled beards, scraggy beards, patchy beards or “novelty” beards would be unacceptable, and would stunt career development.

In academia, the reverse is often true. Beards are commonplace, and certainly lend a sense of authority and gravity.

My only experience of sales work was as the weekend manager of a record store, which catered to a very young, alternative crowd, amongst whom beards were the norm.

I think Brett is correct that beards are becoming fashionable again. I also agree with Matthew that beards on younger men often result in being taken more seriously, as my friends and I have experienced this ourselves.

In summary, I would say that a short, tidy beard is unlikely to be detrimental to your career.

8 Josh January 27, 2011 at 10:57 pm

It seems that, as long as it’s not unruly or crazy like @Diego mentions, beards these days tend to signify more of a man, someone that doesn’t conform quite as much; at least that’s the way it seems to me. Beards are not exactly all that unusual, and sometimes can seem dirty, but when paired with a nice clean suit or generally just a clean style — and definitely make sure the hair is a clean cut too– it says “I go my own way.” Definitely seems like something that would be useful in an entrepreneur.

9 James Dennard January 27, 2011 at 11:06 pm

I have a full beard that I keep trimmed and groomed. I haven’t had any problems professionally with it so far. In fact, I have received a lot of positive feedback, so hopefully Cornel will have the same experience.

10 Moronberg January 27, 2011 at 11:24 pm

I agree that a beard/facial hair can offer its owner a bit of trust from customers/clients, as long as it is clean and well trimmed! When I started teaching, I looked about 19 years old. On my first day of teaching, a student asked me what grade I was in. I grew my beard as quickly as I could (which was a lot longer than I hoped!)

11 Chris January 27, 2011 at 11:31 pm

Like many questions of style and impact, it is all in the eyes of the beholder. I would say that as a professional sales rep, you have to know your clientele. In general though a well maintained, trimmed, and “normally” styled beard would be acceptable by most (unless of course you are selling food or other sanitation minded services/goods). Good luck

12 Lee Nelson January 27, 2011 at 11:36 pm

I think as long as you keep it trimmed and neck shaven, it’s a great thing. It keeps me from being a total babyface. To me, it’s worth five bucks at the barber every now and again to keep a beard in shape.

13 Bill Burge January 27, 2011 at 11:37 pm

I am 34 and for the bulk of my adult life I have had a full beard because of skin sensitivity. For years, each time I would go on the job hunt, I would shave the beard believing that there are times when a man is not hired because he has a beard, but I couldn’t imagine a scenario where a man would not be hired because he didn’t have a beard.

Around five years ago, however, I made the decision that I am a man that has a beard. My wife prefers me with a beard. Even my mother–a rarity for most bearded men–prefers me with a beard.

Equipped with that realization, I stopped shaving for interviews and it has not hindered me in any way. I suppose I could hypothesize that perhaps it’s that I exude more confidence when bearded because I too prefer the beard, but it could just as easily be that I am a web server administrator and amongst the “tech sector”, even with a beard, I appear far more normal than most.

14 Tyler January 27, 2011 at 11:39 pm

I would think the typical grooming style of your clientele would also weigh in the decision, particularly in sales. If your clients are mostly clean shaven, they may appreciate a clean shaven salesperson. When in Rome and all that.

In my own experience (as a teacher) beards on men have no ill effect as long as they are well trimmed and fit in with the business/casual dress.

15 Pat Jarrett January 27, 2011 at 11:48 pm

In my experience as a professional photographer and a member of Beard Team USA it’s all about how you carry it. I have been sporting a long red beard for the past three years in a more conservative and rural part of the country and I have had nothing but positive feedback. In one instance my beard actually allowed me to blend in with Civil War reenactors so I could get photos from on the field, not just from the sidelines.

I’ve also shot photos of Larry Summers, former head of the White House National Economic Council in a one-on-one session with the full red beard and had absolutely no problems or snags with my beard-apart from my damn split ends!

On a typical day at my office I wear the beard, shirt, tie, blazer and appropriate leg- and foot-wear and my cameras and I’m usually one of the best dressed people there. Bottom line, as long as you carry yourself professionally your facial hair-no matter “novelty” or not-should be no issue.

Godspeed and good growing!

16 Robert January 27, 2011 at 11:49 pm

In public accounting in the U.S., beards are still looked down upon if you are working in the larger firms. Those firms tend to have a more traditional/conservative culture to them. Men are generally expected to be clean shaven, wear blue or dark gray suits, white shirts, and conservative ties. The smaller regional or local firms are harder to make generalizations about. They can range from being exactly like the big firms all the way to wearing jeans nearly everyday and are thus much more tolerant and accepting of men with beards. I had a beard for many years but now that I am finishing up my accounting degree (after returning to school in my 30′s) I generally am clean shaven just to be safe.

17 Bill G January 28, 2011 at 12:02 am

I have to agree with Brett. Facial hair does seem to be making a comeback – it works for some and not for others. I definitely think the key to making it work is GOOD GROOMING. Keeping it well-trimmed and neat are essential. I see too many younger guys sporting the “I just rolled out of bed and haven’t shaved in 3 days” look and I personally think it looks awful. Personally, whenever I have wanted to start a beard in the past I waited till I had a few days off of work so that when I returned it was already pretty well established – avoiding the “scruffy” look. Good luck.

18 Drew January 28, 2011 at 12:05 am

I’d say it depends on the industry. I work in the environmental industry and I think a nice full beard goes well with the territory. Makes me appear a bit more laid back and relaxed, and possibly more environmentally responsible.

19 David W. January 28, 2011 at 12:17 am

It really depends on the guy. As a 23-year-old who works in government and policy, I do often find that people tend to bring prejudge those of us that are younger and dismiss us as not having enough experience to know what we’re talking about. However, try as I might, I cannot grow a full beard to help me look older; the most I can muster up is a bit of a mustache and some chin hairs, but nothing else grows – that’s after 3 weeks of no shaving. Even if I could grow a beard, I’m not so sure I’d want to grow it out. It’s just having the option of growing a beard that intrigues me, not necessarily the growing it.

But in a nutshell, every guy is different and every situation is different, so it’s probably best to feel it out. Like Brett said, see who your clientele are, and cater to that audience. The other option is to observe any other male coworkers and see how they approach it.

20 Travis Nance January 28, 2011 at 12:44 am

For full disclosure (and shameless promotion), I’m a member of Beard Team USA and president of the OKC Beard Club. This is the question I’ve been waiting for…

My job touches on the fields of customer relations, IT, training, and several others, and it includes about 50% travel where I’m the de facto face of my company. To keep the story short, my company had some reservations when I grew out my large but obsessively trimmed beard, but ended up rewriting their policies to include acceptance of beards of any sort so long as they fit in with a clean, professional image. In my travels I’m remembered fondly if not by my name, at least as “beard guy.”

In my experience there are a few benefits and a few drawbacks of being bearded, but it all depends on your level of dedication to maintenance. Having a beard doesn’t mean you don’t have to maintain – in fact I spend more time now than I did when bearded. If your beard is clean and you carry it well, there is a subconscious assumption of wisdom (philosopher, professor, etc) which can be harnessed to your benefit. Most people who speak ill of beards are generally assuming gnarled, unkempt beards (mental image courtesy of the stereotypical hobo, old footage of hippie communes, and Fidel Castro).

In my case, I’ve made it my trademark and it works for me. Your field may be different, but you won’t know until you test the water. My recommendation is to have a plan for your beard — how long do you want to grow it, where will you trim, what shape will it take. Jack Passion’s book is a good place to start, both for inspiration and useful tips. There are also hundreds of local chapters of Beard Team USA. Most of these groups will readily answer questions and offer advice on taking care of your beard.

21 Jeff January 28, 2011 at 12:54 am

To summarize the posts so far, the answer to this question can depend on:
age
the individual face
the type of beard
one’s ability to grow a beard that achieves full coverage for that beard style
the particular industry, and the culture it might generate
the size of the business/firm within that industry
the general attitude predominant in the general culture toward facial hair
That’s quite a maze to navigate.

22 Jeff January 28, 2011 at 12:56 am

This is an HTML test.

one
two

23 Nelson Pray January 28, 2011 at 1:21 am

I must agree with @Matthew Kerr I am also 22 and without my beard I look 16 and people tend to think I am some high schooler and that I don’t know what I am talking about but with my beard people generally value my opinion more and at least listen to what I have to say; sometimes I am even mistaken for being years older than what I really am.

As far as being worried about the beardage affects potential sales/branding/style That really depends on you. I don’t think it can affect your style if your beard is your style but if you are growing it because you feel you should/need to then it may not work. As for me, I am working on launching my own graphic design freelance business later this year and I plan on branding myself as the guy with a beard, My logo will even have something to do with a beard.

The main advice I have is if you feel hesitant about growing a beard don’t grow it! The last thing you need is something too worry about and negatively affect your confidence

24 Daniel January 28, 2011 at 2:38 am

I work for a certain mouse doing computery web stuff. The CTO of our organization has a full beard, and I’m guessing that he’s sported it for a number of years now. I also have a co-worker, who happens to be a member of this very site, who has a beard, and he has done rather nicely for himself within the company.

Given the “typical” disposition of clean shavedness, and that our CEO is clean shaven, I would say that having a beard in business is contingent upon yourself – how you carry it and yourself – and the culture in which you work. Ours is a great example of a culture that would normally askew beards but finds them acceptable for certain people in their working environments.

My suggestion would be to just give it a try and see what happens. After all, if it turns out that you’re getting negative reactions, you can always shave it. That’s what I did, but I hope your results turn out better than mine. I was ordered to shave by THE boss. While she liked the look, she just somehow never got used to the sensation of kissing wild boar fur. C’est la vie.

25 Ravi Sagar January 28, 2011 at 2:38 am

IMHO it depends on how you keep it. Sometimes people grow beard to look mature. Some people prefer clean shaven to look neat.

Personally I keep beard all the time. I shave occasionally :)

26 Irenaeus G. Saintonge January 28, 2011 at 3:11 am

Great entry. I enjoyed listening to it.

I’m a second year finance student, and I wear a full beard. Not long, but not short either. Long enough that I can tug on it a bit when serious thinking is called for.
I met a professor at my business college last year, and one thing he said to me was “do you consider yourself very driven by money? A lot of young men with beards tend to give off a bit of an opposite impression.”
So in some circles, the beard still does give off that communist/radical hippie vibe. Now, I don’t consider myself driven by money in that I don’t want to be materialistic, but ironically enough, I’m probably the most free market person you can possibly meet: an anarcho-capitalist. In that sense the radicalism is actually there.
My suggestion would be that, like your wardrobe, the facial hair has to reflect you you are, and what kind of person you want people to perceive you to be.
My beard adds age. I’m 19, almost 20, and I am frequently mistaken for anywhere from 23-28. In business, I think this is a good thing. On the other hand, if I let it get wild (and it was a bit wild looking in my story above) then I look like some kind of bushman.
I haven’t been around long enough yet to say for sure if the beard will work against me or not. I hope it won’t, because I like it a lot, but I may have to sacrifice it for a few years if it gets right down to it. Brett is right in that it does appear that facial hair is making a comeback. I hope us bearded folk can be at the start of that trend. I believe that tidy facial hair is classy and distinguished, and my favourite aspect is that it can be trimmed differently on everyone to reflect one’s philosophy and tastes.
I might also add that a beard is particularly well suited, in my opinion, to sitting back in a leather chair with a good book and a glass of single-malt Scotch in front of a warm fire, with some good music playing softly in the background.

27 Sam January 28, 2011 at 4:00 am

It seems that there is no question here that beards are manly. The issue now becomes how to balance this display of manliness with the traditional conventions of the business world; the conventions that the bosses and clients will be adhering to. The way I see it, the man makes the beard. If you wear a beard with confidence, people will notice that and appreciate it. If you find that you are self conscious around the clean shaven masses, lose it. You aren’t ready, and people will sense that. I personally tend to stay clean shaven throughout most of the year (excepting the cold winter months) but I do appreciate a good beard when I see one.

If you are a business man and are going to grow a beard, grooming is key. Make your beard deliberate. And for my fellow young professionals, if you are missing some patches in your beard, just don’t try. You look silly.

28 Eric Ryda January 28, 2011 at 5:18 am

I have had a beard on and off for about 25 years now, mostly I have had a close trimmed, well groomed full beard.

The feedback is that it makes me llok softer and les agressive. Whatever the truth is my bead is a part of my identity now, its become my brand, I dress well and ensure that my approach to work is proffesional.

Having a beard has not in my opinion had an impact on my career or my success,

Eric

29 Wigwam Jones January 28, 2011 at 5:45 am

The more beard, the less double-chin. Bearded people may face job discrimination in certain fields; fat people face worse. Therefore, my beard stays.

30 John Morrow January 28, 2011 at 5:54 am

I sport quite a professional looking beard and stache, and I have to say the secret is to keep it very well trimmed, The line between neatly groomed professional and potentially-insane street bum is very thin when t comes to beards. Be careful.

I would also note that my beard makes me look a fair bit older than my 44 years, so that can be a good thing or a bad thing depending upon your situation. YMMV.

John

31 Reid January 28, 2011 at 6:04 am

I think it is important to take cues from others in your profession in the community. Attitudes toward facial hair can really change a lot from location to location and with different people. I had a beard in college and once I became an attorney I wanted to grow it back. I hesitated for a while because I was young and didn’t want to do anything of hurting my chances to make a good impression. However, at my first job, my boss had a full beard so I decided to give it a shot. When I decided to interview for new jobs, I hesitated again whether I should shave it, at least until I got settled in a new job. I ended up getting a good job with the beard, and before I started shaved it (just for a change) and when I started my new job, my boss was surprised at my beardlessness (he obviously didn’t have a problem with it). I think it is just important that you keep it well trimmed and it will be perfectly professional.

32 Wayne January 28, 2011 at 6:32 am

A question for the group. What about the ladies in your lives? My wife likes the look, actually she almost insists on it, but she doesn’t like the feel. Thus, it certainly minimizes kissing, which can be quite the bummer….. nothing breaks the mood like “you’re scratchy.” lol….

33 Nate January 28, 2011 at 6:32 am

I have had facial hair of some sort or other for over twenty years. I have found that the response to having it is more positive to when I don’t. On that note; If you have facial hair the key to “owning” it is to keep your face clean and groomed don’t grow the American Civil War, mountain man, pedophile type of facial hair!
I have also found that a mans age or profession is really not a concern, but how it looks! There will always be that one person that does not like it. Not only that but I find that women are also more attracted to men with facial hair! SO go for it!

34 John H January 28, 2011 at 7:17 am

Right on! I am a sales manager for a large oil company, I also have a very full beard. My customer base ranges from owners of car dealerships to independent repair shop managers; my beard has always served as a way to differentiate myself from other sales professionals calling or already servicing them. It is a great way to brand to brand yourself.

35 Daniel A. January 28, 2011 at 7:33 am

I am 34 years old, I’ve had a beard, whether full or just goatee, in my opinion as long as you keep your beard clean and evenly trimmed it should not have any efect, now if you look like tom hanks in castaway…..people will turn away from you…..

36 Jenna January 28, 2011 at 7:48 am

I’ve been both clean-shaven and have had a beard. I must admit that as a woman, having a beard or moustache has hurt me professionally as well as personally. Many people find it distasteful or even offensive, and I have been constantly subject to ridicule. Since I’ve been clean-shaven, I’ve found people tend to approach me more, and this in turn has led to great progress professionally. I hope my two cents worth helps you out.

37 dan b January 28, 2011 at 7:49 am

I’m 32 and will sport a full beard in the winter and be clean shaven in the summer. I’ve been doing this for years and prior to that had a goatee all year round from the point i was 20 till i was 27. It’s never made a bit of difference, though when i was in my mid 20′s i looked older with the facial hair than i did without it and i’ve found if you have a young looking face you want to look a little older and more experienced, as you get older and the gray hair starts to show it makes less of a difference. As long as your beard is well kept it really doesn’t matter if it’s there or not. i’d recommend a full beard as opposed to a soul patch or long side burns or a goatee, but if all that comes in good is goatee you’ll still be fine.

38 Chin Beard January 28, 2011 at 7:57 am

Thanks Cornel for asking this question. I am a recent Civil Engineering graduate from LSU and face the same dilemma except in a different field. My father works in the southern oil field and always advised me to shave off all hair, even my short chin patch. For my first 4 interviews I shaved 3 times and rocked the chin patch on the fourth. I didn’t get a second interview with any of them. I sometimes wonder if I did shave for the fourth interview maybe I would have received a second call. Like most people have stated, your location and field play a major part in your appearance. I would like to keep some facial hair but in my professional field in the South it is discouraged.

Thanks everyone for sharing your advice and experiences. Younger guys like myself appreciate any tips we can use to advance our professional careers. The best advice I received was to continue to be respectful and show your determination for success, its 2011 if someone doesn’t hire/ give you business because of your facial hair maybe it’s a blessing that you dont have to work or do business with them.
Good Luck

39 John January 28, 2011 at 7:58 am

At 32 years old I have experimented with full beards, goatees, mustaches, and clean shaven; and in my experience as long as it is neatly groomed then facial hair has never held me back in my management career. That being said, I have gotten comments stating how much younger I look clean shaven, and as stated above, younger usually means less experienced and more naive on a first impression…

40 M. H. Wise January 28, 2011 at 8:04 am

I’m currently in the military where the grooming standards, like any other standards, are rather strict. We have to keep our faces clean-shaven (I’ve been told this has to do with maintaining a proper seal with a gas mask) but are allowed to grow a mustache so long as it conforms to regulations, which are more or less an eighth of an inch below the nose and above the lip and it can’t stretch past the corners of your mouth.

If there’s anything that the military has taught me about physical appearences though, it’s that as long as you put work into making sure that you look good, you can’t really go wrong. If you want to grow a beard, do so. It would help to have your beard trimmed to whatever length you like but make sure that it IS trimmed and do it regularly.

People will see how well you groom yourself and that deliberation will carry into your work. If you pay attention to small details when doing the less important things, people will trust you to pay attention to the small details when tending to more important matters as well.

41 Joe T January 28, 2011 at 8:07 am

A beard generally expresses masculinity and virility, but the style must be kept within reason. There are also beards that express poor taste and that the wearer is a “fashion victim” of popular culture. In some professional situations a baldfaced androgyny would seem to be more the preferrred status quo of the staff. If you choose to go with a full beard you have to kick your etiquette up a notch so as to project that you have a beard as a gentleman instead of a brut.

Also it is always a bad idea to go into a job seeking situation with an attitude of “are you going to like me”. Unfortunately that is what your question evoked for me. When you go into the job interview your “energy” needs to be completely different than that. Instead of deciding whether to have a beard or not based on imagining whether an employer might like it or not I would suggest deciding if the beard expresses your identity or conceals it and just make a decision if you want a beard or not. When you go into the interview don’t even THINK about whether you can make them like you or not. Find out about them and find reasons to like them instead: that way you project as a “contributor” instead of “needy” regardless of whether you have a beard or not.

42 Brian January 28, 2011 at 8:12 am

I am 34 years old and have experimented with beards, mustaches, and goatees. I found that the Goatee was the right mix of attributes that for my facial structure. I work in a white collar industry that involves sales, speeches, and other public speaking. I will say that beards will not hold you back if they fit your face, are well kept, and are in line with your style. If it looks out of place on your face then people with focus on that. I grow a full beard once a year for my vacation, which happens to be going out in the wilderness to hunt big game. Its as much a style thing as it is functional against a harsh cold climate. Post vacation I shave it back to a goatee. All thoughout I tend to it like a proper haircut or a hedge on a lawn. A well kept beard can add a wisened look to a young face and truthfully, if you have a chin you are not proud of, it can hide a weak chin or a pudgy one.

43 Thomas McInvale January 28, 2011 at 8:22 am

I am a 57 years old and the vice president of a mid size manufacturing firm. I have had a mustache for at least 35 years and decided two years ago to grow a goatee to go along with the mustache. As I was in the midst of a long and bitter divorce, I believe my new facial hair was viewed by the company owners and my fellow board members as me returning to my “hippie rebellion” roots. However, I have found that y beard has actually enhanced contact and communication with customers, clients and employees. The younger guys think I am “cool”, clients seem to view me with more respect and my (new) wife loves it. The key here has already been stated in previous posts……NEAT GROOMING. Follow that and follow your own style and feelings. I know I will never be without my beard again.

44 Daveareeno January 28, 2011 at 8:24 am

If you are a “babyface” or in academia then keep the whiskers. If you are in sales do a little recon on upper management. Check on the guys leaving the office to the “preferred” parking spaces. Do the same with your customers. If the upper management of your customers are clean then you need to be as well. If you represent “adventure racing” or call on sports bars, get fuzzy. However, if the opportunity arises for you to get called in to meet with the owner/principals, the you had better look professional.

Nobody who is informed will ask you if you “have to have” your beard. This could be seen as religious discrimination because some religions prohibit cutting one’s facial hair.

45 Jeff January 28, 2011 at 8:38 am

I grew a beard (full beard) a little over a year ago and it’s had a very positive effect for my professional life. I have been told I have a “baby face” and the beard contributes to a sense of wisdom and experience to my overall appearance. Maintenance is everything however, keep it clean and trimmed!

46 Eddie Guanajuato January 28, 2011 at 8:39 am

Being Clean Shaven actually helped me. I have found as a high school teacher, it has a commanding respect and a presence of “being in control” appearing cleaned up.

I am taken more seriously as a teacher and I do not look “scruffy”. Sorry but appearances for professionalism are a high priority.

I would go with clean shaven. Shave like your grandpa and use a safety Razor. I switched and now swear by them.!!!!

Eddie the Band Director
Indianapolis,

47 Thad January 28, 2011 at 8:44 am

I have had a beard for nearly 12 years now and in my fields (academics, museums, and the occasional bar), I have never had a problem because of my facial hair. I have to add another voice to the chorus of maintaining it properly … while occasionally, I have gone “wild man” with my beard, when working/interviewing/teaching being well-groomed is a top priority!

Cheers!

48 Bill January 28, 2011 at 8:44 am

I still have a boyish face at 47 and so my wife insists on my keeping my facial hair. Neat and trimmed is definitely key. I have also found my beard style has a slimming look on my face, which, as Wigwam Jones noted, can be beneficial.

49 Greg January 28, 2011 at 8:50 am

I had an experience this week with the owner of my company regarding my facial hair. I have had a thin, short beard on and off during my working career. I have never had a supervisor or peer make a negative comment about my facial hair until this week. I decided to grow my beard a little longer in the past few weeks. I was speaking with our owner and he commented that he noticed I was growing a beard. I thought it was interesting because he has seen me many times with a shorter beard and never made a comment. He then went on to ask me if I was “growing a tail in the back as well”. I believe he meant it as joke but the tone indicated to me that it was not really a joke. It was an honest comment disquised as a joke. It made me realize that the length of beard clearly determined the accecptability of it. I have decided to let it grow even longer.

50 Chad January 28, 2011 at 9:01 am

Rule #1, be true to yourself. If somebody does not want to do business with you because of the way you look (good hygiene aside) you do not need them as a client.

Personally, I have had a full beard since the age of 16 (really, that is not an exaggeration). My wife has seen me without it only once; I told her I would shave it before we got married. She immediately asked me to grow it back, because I did not look like me.

All that said, my profession is one of those where a beard actually gains a person ground; I am a software developer. It is almost expected that guys like me have beards, wear glasses, etc. I run my own company and I do just as much sales work as I do actually writing software. Not once have I had an issue because of my appearance.

I say go for it, and wear your beard proudly.

51 Allium January 28, 2011 at 9:16 am

25 years ago when starting in home sales I was told a beard makes you look like you are hiding something and since that time I have only seen one person with a beard succeed long term. A stashe is different and has been accepted long time as well a van dyke has become routine anywhere the past 10 years. The key comes into business type you are in and grooming habits. A long flowing beard wouldnt work on an assembly line, food service or working on computers but would as a college prof or logger. One that takes 2 months to grow in would accent adolescence. Iv e only shaved my stashe once in 30 years – on a bet and it was regrowing the next day. But can’t grow a beard to save my life.

52 Jiim January 28, 2011 at 9:20 am

Here’s how I look at it.

What we know is that beards are more accepted now than they have been in the past. I personally don’t think there is anything wrong with it. HOWEVER

I can tell you with a lot of certainty that there are many people who think it’s unprofessional. I would argue that they are wrong, but that part doesn’t matter.

If you grow a beard, right or wrong, some people will think negatively of it, and I think you know that, hence your question.

It’s your call. It basically boils down to how badly you want a beard. I want to close deals more than I want to grow facial hair, so even if it seems silly, I just leave it alone.

53 Adam January 28, 2011 at 9:20 am

My first real job out of college was for a large food company (I’m a chef), doing sales, product development, and cooking demonstrations. Needless to say image was an integral part of my work. When I first started I was clean shaven (culinary school requires it), but after a few months I got tired of answering age related questions or not being taken seriously because I seemed young. I grew a beard, and my managers didn’t like it at all (especially during the “growing it out” period.) However, my clients took me more seriously, my cooking demos were better received, and my PR manager loved it.

Now I’m a consultant, and I’ve never gotten any bad looks from anyone who didn’t know me BEFORE the beard… it’s like if they met you with it, it’s just part of your face… Hope that helps

54 Marin January 28, 2011 at 9:35 am

I couldn’t see the video response, but I can certainly speak to this – a beard, along with any facial hair, will never hold you back AS LONG as it is well groomed. Guys that try to grow out a full beard and later discover gaps and patchiness tend to ruin it for everyone when they do nothing to compensate for these ‘rough spots’ by grooming it in such a way that compliments their genetic predisposition. I don’t know what line of sales you’re in, but at 26, you will naturally have to overcome the stigma that your are young, inexperienced and can offer no real value until you hit 30 which seems to be the mentality among many of today’s professionals. A beard will help only until they ask you how old you are.

55 John January 28, 2011 at 9:36 am

A beard (that is to say, a FULL beard), or a mustache, is no hindrance in the career I’m in (sales of heavy industrial components, valves, motors, etc etc).

But the trendy goatees and soul patches and 2-day scruff and other stuff never is accepted. Like said earlier, if it takes a month to grow in, it just makes you look like a 13 year old hitting puberty.

I can grow a full beard in a week. (My wife says I can shave at 4:30 and still have a 5 o clock shadow), but I still go for clean shaven all the time. It doesn’t hurt.

56 Adam January 28, 2011 at 9:37 am

I’ve had 3 paycheck jobs, yeah I’m young and not as experienced as I could be but here’s my experience:

First job was for an A/C Wholesaler as a warehouseman/driver. I would keep stock, assist with selling parts/checking out customers, and deliver parts and A/C units in our truck. They didn’t care about my facial hair at all. One day I even shaved it all off as an experiment and they said “Where’d your beard go?” Keep in mind this was the same job that I asked $10 for starting pay, got started at 8.50, and then when I asked for a raise after 9 months they raised me to 9.00.

Second job was delivering again but this time for (of all places) Pizza Hut. Very poor experience here. When I applied I did not have a mustache but I had a very well kept full beard. I always kept it trimmed to a 3 or a 4 guard and it looked great. They actually told me that I had to have a goatee. They wouldn’t accept the clean full beard but goatee was “in” for some reason. But, this was also the place that hired me as a driver, but then demanded that I call in if I wanted to work. They wouldn’t schedule me or even give me a nametag.

Now I work at a helpdesk for law firms and have been here for 16 months now and still enjoy it. I haven’t shaven for 3-4 months (it’s cold and I don’t want to go buy a scarf!) My boss actually grows awesome Leonidas beards and pulls off a great Mephistopheles.

57 sean January 28, 2011 at 9:40 am

I have mainly seen the problem based on size/shape of the beard, i unfortunately had to switch to a nice trimmed beard seeing as the beast hanging down my chest made finding a job difficult.

58 Matt January 28, 2011 at 9:44 am

I am proud to say I’ve been wearing a beard all of my professional life. I can tell you from my experience, as long as you keep it cropped close to the skin, avoiding looking like a hobo with a scraggle face is key. I keep my neck shaved, and my cheeks as well. I agree with the statement that it is a more fashionable accepted form of professionalism. Keep it neat, and no worries. Thanks for the post!

59 Nathan January 28, 2011 at 9:45 am

Pretty interesting topic. It always seems to boil down to how it looks on you. I have several cowlicks in my beard, and it doesn’t look right until it’s close to 3/4″ long. For me though, that’s like a month. I have a friend that can’t grow a full beard 1/2″ long after 3 months.

In more recent months, I’ve added a full mustache and goatee. I wasn’t really happy with the result after it started getting longer because it started looking unkempt and bushy. So, I went to my local “man store” and got some mustache wax. It’s done wonders in being able to keep the facial hair and still look clean and well groomed for the office environment.

I’ve had tons of people in the last couple of years comment on my beard in the office when I grew it out to about 2″, but nobody has even mentioned the goatee. It did not, however, effect my position, salary, or the trust people put in me to get my job done, because I was consistent in my behavior. Being consistent is far more important in the job market than having facial hair, so long as you keep looking well groomed.

That’s my thoughts on it.

Nathan.

60 Eric January 28, 2011 at 9:45 am

I recently retired after 29 years in the military and immediately began growing a beard. After retiring and taking a month’s leave, I was hired back into my old office as a civilian and the reactions to my facial hair have been interesting to say the least. Some have joked, as Greg mentioned above, that a ponytail was surely coming next, while others have generally made positive comments. It seems, in my case, that much of the strong reactions are associated with the degree of change in my appearance over such a short time, probably coupled with a twinge of jealousy that my uniformed co-workers can’t do the same.

My wife isn’t nearly as enamored with it as I am, primarily because of its “scratchiness” but also because it has a lot of gray (much more than my head of hair) and thus makes me look older in her eyes. Still, I remind her regularly that I have earned every one of those grays and am not the least bit concerned with finally looking my age or even a bit older.

61 Ellias Karwashan January 28, 2011 at 9:45 am

First off, congrats Brett on building such a successful website that has allowed you to leave your gig in the corporate world and maintain this website full time. Hard to imagine that this website can get any better but I’m sure it will with you dedicating more time to it.

I have a question along these lines. Do you guys trust or would you guys trust a doctor or surgeon with a beard? I am a medical student and opinions seem to vary about whether or not a doctor should have a beard. Currently, I have a well-groomed, maintained chinstrap and when I visit the clinic, I’ve noticed that none of the doctors down there have a beard. I don’t know any surgeons with a beard. I am studying to become an orthopedic surgeon and I don’t think that whether or not I have a beard affects how well I know the material or how good of a surgeon I am (or hopefully will be!).

I’ve had my beard since I was a freshman in high school and its become part of who I am. I shave with a straight blade and I don’t even know if I can shave my jawline properly because I’ve never had too.

Personally, I enjoy having facial hair and I think as long as its maintained it’ll look fine. It will take some time for people to get used to seeing you with it but it will eventually happen. Its the same situation as changing your hairstyle. It takes time but eventually it becomes part of you. The beautiful thing about facial hair is that you can take it off whenever you want and it’ll grow back!

If you wanna grow it out, then by all means grow it out. It shouldn’t harm your business endeavors if you are a good salesman. Being a successful salesman is all about gaining the trust of your clients. They should be trusting you on the type of person you are, not whether or not you have a beard.

Respectfully,
Ellias

62 Dave January 28, 2011 at 10:07 am

When I decided to look for a new job six months ago I too worried that my beard would hinder my chances of landing one. The way the economy is, any negatives can kill your chances. I am an architect and was looking for a position in facilities at a large company. Since I was employed and not desperate, I decided that my credentials and personality should be their focus and didn’t bother shaving.

I landed a position with the first company I interviewed with, beard and all. We are a national law firm and I don’t recall seeing anyone else here with a beard. From time to time I wonder if I would be better off shaving it off, but I always think that if I do what I am paid for well, it shouldn’t matter. I don’t meet with the firm’s clients so maybe that helps. My “clients” are the managing attorneys of our many offices and I don’t think they seem to mind.

63 Tip January 28, 2011 at 10:09 am

Well, I have no problem dealing with people who have facial hair. I’ve had a beard for so long I can’t remeber not having one.

In the summer it gets trimmed up some, in the fall I no longer trim it and let it get bushy. It is brushed in the morning before work. I am a truck foreman and we do construction work for the state. Nobody has ever said anything about it. It is one way to keep my face warm in the frigid cold and snow.

I am more interested in your skill and kowledge then I am if you have a beard or not. Some people will simply find something else not to like.

It boils down to a personal choice I beleive.

64 Luke January 28, 2011 at 10:15 am

I think the inportent thing with facial hair is 2 things.
1. go with a design that works for your style, and your head shape.
2. keep it clean.

Some people can pull off the full beard, some can pull off the goatee w/ stash, others the soal patch. It all depends on how you need or want to present yourself.

65 Nick Robinson January 28, 2011 at 10:26 am

Beards don’t seem to be a barrier in business in the UK; check out tow of our most prominent businessmen:

Lord Alan Sugar http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alan_Sugar
Sir Richard Branson http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Branson

Maybe still not that widespread in corporate life.

I’ve had a goatee for nearly a year, people seem to like it.

66 Scott January 28, 2011 at 10:31 am

Let me tell you something, growing a beard has everything to do with confidence. If you feel more confidence with a beard, then by all means grow one. If you feel like a bum or a creep driving a blacked out van with no windows when you have a beard, then you should probably shave immediately. The key to successfully sporting a beard is determining why you are growing it. If you are growing it out of laziness (aka: you don’t feel like shaving), then you are in trouble because your already lazy demeaner will only be worsened by the beard. If you already exude lazy energy and you then you grow a beard, you will truly come off like a lazy, depressed homeless guy. If, on the other hand, you are growing a beard in hopes to have a Samson like effect on your life, then i can assure you from experience it will certainly help.

I grew a beard this week at work, and currently i am walking around like Hulk Hogan in the office. I am the only man in an office of 150+ people with a beard (technically it’s a wardrobe violation), and yet even the bosses are looking at me with admiration. I believe it is because I am not hiding behind the beard. Much to the contrary, i am parading the beard around like a picece of precious jewelery to be treasured and cherished by all. i am not apologizing for the beard (in word or deed). Instead i am acting proud to wear it on my face. As a result, people are looking at me like i am some kind of war general (aka: Robert E. Lee), and my boss even called me today and said he would like to promote me (this might be a coincidence, but you never know). So the bottom line is, if you are going to wear a beard like a man, then grow one. If you are going to wear it like a bum, lazy person, or weirdo driving a blacked out van with no windows, then please for the sake of humanity stay clean shaven.
XOXO,
-Scott

67 Krishna January 28, 2011 at 10:37 am

Interesting question – I’ve had facial hair in various forms ever since I could. Professionally, I’ve always been clean shaven at the time of a job interview and when I’ve started work with a new employer. It is only after having spent sometime at an employer and I find that I’m only being judged for my work, I’m comfortable growing a beard. People will always judge you, and it is always the worst in the first 5 minutes. So just be wary of that initial judgement – if you find that people don’t judge you for facial hair, then go for it!

68 Sterling lynch January 28, 2011 at 10:40 am

I see nothing wrong with having a beard my dad has successfully ran a business for the past 40 years with a beard. I being 27 am the VP of this business and has had many styles of beards and it dosent matter if it’s a home owner or a multimillionaire the beard never effects how they like us as long as it’s cept nice and professional

69 Rob January 28, 2011 at 10:40 am

I am currently growing a goatee. I think it complements my facial dimensions. I don’t normally have any facial hair. I have grown a full beard a couple of times in the past but didn’t keep it long. Here’s my take: growing facial hair is normal. It’s what our faces were made to do. It’s a man thing. Keep it groomed, just like you do with the hair on your head, and enjoy it! BTW Brett, what happened to your stache?

70 Michelle January 28, 2011 at 10:42 am

This is Scott’s boss and I just wanted to let him know that he is not fooling anyone. The beard makes him look like the unibomber and I called him today to fire him, but his delusional mind has distorted our talk into him thinking he is getting a promotion. Scott, if you are reading this, I cleaned out your desk. Come pick up your stuff and never come back.

P.S. Your beard smells like moldy cheese and I’m pretty sure you have a bird nesting in it. You disgust me on both a professional and personal level

71 Nathan January 28, 2011 at 10:43 am

I have worked several jobs, including my current one, that require men to be clean shaven. My current employer, a Family Law Attorney, detest beards/facial hair. For me, this is an issue as I suffer from sensitive skin and often get ingrown hairs quite easily. Shaving with straight or de razors help some, but not enough.

72 Ryan January 28, 2011 at 10:43 am

This topic is of interest to me also, as a bearded man looking to advance my career. For me, being clean shaven can also have its drawbacks. I am in my 30s, yet without a beard I look barely old enough to be out of high school. With a beard my physical appearance is more in line with my professional experience.

I’ve only received one negative comment about the professionalism of my beard, and that was from a retired police officer. There are those careers where beards are frowned upon – law, some businesses, the military – but ultimately, it should match how you want to be perceived in the workplace. My advice is to keep it well groomed. I still shave my neckline everyday, which gives me an excuse to use my shaving soap and brush!

Best of luck,
Ryan

73 Steven January 28, 2011 at 10:51 am

Where I work the beard issue is pretty much split. I work in book publishing, so the field is pretty much 70-30 women in the first place. Some of my male colleagues have beards (usually shortish) and some are clean-shaven. The odd thing I’ve noticed is that there’s a bell curve in beards—low level (not really), middle level (somewhat), and high level (not really). Maybe its more pronounced in middle management?
Anyway, I split the difference and grow a beard in Fall and Winter… ’cause it’s cold outside!

74 Rob January 28, 2011 at 11:02 am

1. Your response is too long. Address your absence in a separate response.
2. Never use the entertainment industry or entertainers to justify anything.
3. There are exceptions to every rule. However, I have traveled on business all over this country and rarely do I ever see a successful business man wearing facial hair.

75 Jordan January 28, 2011 at 11:08 am

I think the problem comes in when facial hair doesn’t suit you. People never sat “you know, that guy would look really great with some mutton chops” when you’re clean shaven. But there always be someone that says “I like that guy, but he’s gotta get rid of that gotee.” I think it’s more about being relatable and taken seriously. Of course, it all depends on your profession. Someone in arts or marketing has a lot more freedom than someone in banking.

76 John January 28, 2011 at 11:12 am

A full beard shouldn’t be an problem if you keep it neat and well groomed. However, you need to conform to your company’s culture. If it’s not a dress-code issue, then go for it. I think growing facial hair is initially more a state of being self conscious about it.
I’ve had a moustache most of my professional career and it has never been an issue.

77 Samuel Warren January 28, 2011 at 11:22 am

This is Nathan’s friend from above that can’t grow more than a 1/2″ beard in three months. I still have my 1/2″ beard. This length is long enough that it looks good, and only has to be trimmed once a week. In the software development industry it really doesn’t matter what your facial hair is like. They’re more concerned with how well you write code.

78 Tank January 28, 2011 at 11:24 am

If you can grow a beard that actually looks good (not everyone can), and you keep it well-trimmed, it shouldn’t be a problem. The big obstacle is actually growing it out. For me, it took quite a while to get to a place where my beard didn’t look unprofessional.

79 Perry Randall January 28, 2011 at 11:35 am

Good morning all,

I am a banker, and I find that a certain amount of facial hair lends an air of respect (assuming, of course, that it is kept groomed). Right now, I sport a modified Balbo (longer beard, handlebar mustache). Previously, I had the “Grizzly Adams” full beard, but an unfortunate encounter with a beard trimmer forced me to change it up a bit. In regards to the “scratchy” comments, may I suggest occasionally rubbing in a little baby oil? For me, it softens the hair and makes it a little easier to keep untangled.

Regards,

Perry

80 Justin January 28, 2011 at 11:37 am

I’m a guy in his late 20s who’s been sporting a beard for 4 years now. I work in an office during the week, and as an outdoor guide on the weekends and in my spare time. I can say that not only has my beard not held me back, it has probably moved me forward in both careers. Without my beard I look easily 5 years younger, and in both fields having a beard has helped counter the young looks (dealing with clients & stakeholders, and guiding people on backcountry hikes & canoe trips).

If you’re someone who grows a beard slowly, start when you’re on vacation to give yourself a head start. Even when you’re growing it out if you keep it clean (shaving the neck and cheeks) most people won’t have a problem with it. But bottom line is you need to feel comfortable with it.

81 Dusty January 28, 2011 at 11:41 am

I am very blessed when it comes to growing facial hair, and I have often had the same concern. Recently I have begun growing a beard because I enjoy it, I put down my concern for others opinion and let it grow. I still maintain trimming my upper cheek and neckline, however I’m just letting this beast blossom. To my surprise I have received many more compliments than expected. Mostly from other professional men generally resounding, “I wish I could grow a beard like that…” It’s a real confidence builder, my girlfriend doesn’t mind, and more importantly I don’t feel like I’m answering to an emasculating minority opinion. We are men and obsessive vanity is absurd. I’ll echo Scott and say that confidence is everything. Wear it confidently and people will respect you regardless. If someone is so shallow to judge you primarily on whether or not you have a beard you’re better off not knowing them anyway.

82 Kevin January 28, 2011 at 11:44 am

Cornel, I look at this two ways. First, I agree with others that if you decide to grow the beard then at a minimum make sure it is neatly groomed. The second caveat I would add is that facial hair, trendy clothing and even slightly longer hair can still work for you in a buiness setting as long as you are not at all self-conscience. I’ve conducted business with and been around many successful people that liked to have their own unique identity (think beard, hair, clothes, etc.). What made it work for them is that they never appeared to give it a second thought. It was simply who they were and they exuded that self-confidence. In other words, if you think you will be in a meeting and second guessing whether or not that individual is thinking negatively about you because you have a beard than you are already defeated. If that is the case with you than stay clean shaven and find another way to express your individuality where you can be at ease.

83 doctim11 January 28, 2011 at 11:57 am

It seems facial hair is accepted more easily amongst professionals like doctors and such. Sales is tougher since there is perhaps less pre-conceived trust and first impressions are really important. I would suggest a full, closely shaven beard. Avant-garde hair like goatees and stylish, unconnected patches are out of the question. A customer needs to feel secure and the more time they spend thinking about what your hair means the less time they are feeling comfortable about you. Hope this helps.

84 Dave January 28, 2011 at 12:03 pm

I’m 24 and have worn a goatee since I was 16 and still at school. Obviously since then, it has gotten thicker, but apart from the occasional week or two when I was at uni where I was too lazy/hungover to shave and a few times where my wife want me to just have a moustache, I have always kept it well groomed and squared off.

I think it should be similar to how you keep the hair on your head, neat, well groomed, and not too off beat. You wouldn’t grow your hair long and not comb it, so same with your facial hair I guess

85 Tom R. January 28, 2011 at 12:18 pm

I used to have a goatee when I was working in D.C. This did not sit well with them. The boss at one of my jobs actually took me into his office and told me that if I ever wanted to succeed in the town, I would need to shave off my goatee. I decided that being successful and supporting my family was more important than having my beloved facial hair, no matter how awesome and perfect it was. So I shaved, and noticed a definite change of attitude from those around me. I was taken more seriously, given more respect, and complimented much more. This was nice, of course, but it is my opinion that facial hair is manly, and I like being manly, so it was bittersweet.

I left D.C. for a better paying job up north. While the job is helpful, I still want to go “home” to DC. However, while I am up here, and especially while it is freezing cold, I decided that it was a perfect time to grow a beard. People have complimented it, and I love it.

I guess my point is that, in addition to your clientele, it is important to look at the culture and history of your home and business. Washington, DC, despite its debauchery, is a pretty buttoned up and conservative place (in terms of appearance and manners, if not politically, more’s the pity), and Western P.A. and Eastern O.H. are relatively conservative places politically, but more laid back about appearance. I would suggest anyone deciding to grow facial hair analyze these factors.

86 Angelo January 28, 2011 at 12:25 pm

I am an HR Representative for a detention center. We allow our employees to have facial hair as long as it is neatly trimmed. I think it mainly depends on the audience. If most of your customers or constituents are older and clean shaven, it might be beneficial for you to mimick that because it is typically a generational preference. I personally always have a goatee at the least (otherwise I look like an overstuffed chipmunk….no joke;)
Inasmuch, I believe if you have neatly trimmed facial hair and you keep steady maintenance, you will have no problem. Good luck my friend.

87 Jonathon Hill January 28, 2011 at 12:32 pm

Length, thickness, and grooming matters, and how it coordinates with your hairstyle.

Since I grew a beard two years ago, many people have told me that it looks great and that I look much older now. That has been very helpful to me because I am heavily involved in both politics and in business, and in neither arena are young people taken very seriously.

I am currently 25 and between the beard and early graying, I probably look at least 5 years older.

If your friends and family like the beard you’re probably on the right track.

88 J D Armstrong January 28, 2011 at 12:34 pm

#1 rule, keep it well groomed. You aren’t going to wear your shirt un-tucked and disheveled are you? So keep the beard in as good as shape as the rest of your appearance.

Some other things to consider are location and industry. First look at the people around you. If everyone you work with in your industry and location is clean shaven, then the beard might be out of place. For example, when I lived in Texas no one had a bear or moustache (I have a moustache now). When I visit Texas I get some odd looks because of my moustache (large handlebar style like the AoM logo). However, where I work and live now in Colorado there are numerous men with moustaches and beards and other facial hair. I get compliments when I am noticed instead of glares. Overall I think places like Texas where you are likely to get more criticism are becoming few and far between. Overall it seems like facial hair is becoming more acceptable. So in general I would say go for it, grow that beard and be proud of it!

89 Jon January 28, 2011 at 12:38 pm

A well trimmed beard, to me, shows me a man that isn’t afraid, but still takes care of details with care and precision. Beards are a bold statement when well groomed.

90 Ethan January 28, 2011 at 12:40 pm

I would agree with a lot of the above commenters that most of the time well manicured facial hair shouldn’t be a problem, but it is alos dependant on your position, the company culture and who you are interacting with. I work in the construction industry in Alaska, and sitting around the table at any project meeting, it is the clean shaven guys that are in the minority. Since I started at my current job I have gone from an abe lincoln to a full beard and it has never been an issue, even when i let it get pretty long and unruly in a misguided attempt to see how long I could grow it out. The tranistion period between clean shaven and bearded or between styles is probably the only time you would have an issue, so as long as you schedule that around job interviews or important meetings you shouldn’t have a problem. We just need a President with a full beard to bring it back around. I tell everyone that comments on my beard that every guy should try it at least once.

91 JoshuaM January 28, 2011 at 12:44 pm

My office allowed it – I once worked for a company that allowed no facial hair – and I welcomed the opportunity to grow a beard. I changed my mind after a few months when I realized I wasn’t getting lovin’s from the wife and people ththought my mother and I were an item.
Also, I have to say that since I started shaving with a safety razor using natural shave products, I’ve actually enjoyed shaving a lot more.

92 M. Steve January 28, 2011 at 1:02 pm

As a once seasonal, now year-round, beard sporter, I will echo the above statements regarding environment, grooming, and confidence. I am fortunate to work in IT, and though I am customer-facing, my beard has never been an issue. I maintain it with twice-weekly trimmings, and shaving/shaping when needed.

I wholeheartedly recommend a quality electric beard trimmer, ideally with a vacuum feature. I am able to keep my beard trimmed evenly in just a couple of minutes a day. This also leads to consistency and symmetry in my appearance. If you want a beard, consider the outlay ($50-$75) as a down payment for increased manliness.

93 Ryan January 28, 2011 at 1:04 pm

As a professional software developer, my beard is not only something that is tolerated, but boosts my credentials, and it seems like the longer it is the more seriously people consider my opinion. When I cut my hair and trimmed my beard I actually got quite a bit of flack, as if I had lost my “guru” image. Granted, the software industry is probably quite a bit different from other industries in this regard, but I think it does go to show that it very much depends on what you are marketing yourself as and how your target audience is going to respond to that. Most of the greats in my field weren’t known for their keen sense of personal aesthetic, so having a good sense of style/being well-groomed may actually harm your income potential more than it helps in extremely technical positions.

94 Kevin January 28, 2011 at 1:06 pm

I’ve found facial hair can be useful in office situations. I usually keep it at about 4 to 5 day’s length. I happen to be 22 and talented at what I do, and the beard affords me a greater degree of respect at work. When I’m clean shaven, I look too young for my talents. Some of the more senior office members, especially those I’m only around incidentally, assign more credibility to me when I look a bit older. That being said, I’ve found that beard or no beard with women is a per-case basis. I shave for a first date, its a safer bet; but I have dated girls who really are all about the stubble look.
No matter what, keep the beard clean, shave around the neck and high up on the cheekbones.

95 Jeff January 28, 2011 at 1:31 pm

It depends on the business and it depends on the culture and background of the customers. In some cultures, beards are not only fine, they are religiously prescribed. You won’t see a Sikh with a turban who doesn’t have a beard, nor will you see a Jew with wearing a streimel not wearing a beard.

Generally however, in North America, beards are not part of the middle class/upper middle class look. They once were. They may be again. But they aren’t at the moment.

96 Richard January 28, 2011 at 2:01 pm

I agree that opinions in general are changing towards facial hair, but it’s important to remember that your work environment will and should play a larger role in how you look. For better or worse, certain jobs require dress protocols. Breaking those rules just to show your independence is unprofessional and often looked upon as immature as well. Facial hair will work in many of these professions so long as it’s kept as well as your hair-do; who amongst us would look good with nicely trimmed hair and then a crazy, scraggily beard?
Personally, I work in the medical field and have a beard/’stache combo. I keep it clean – neck shaved, cheeks shaved, and facial hair trimmed daily to avoid “scraggliness”. I’ve never had a problem with my superiors, or my patients, and I think a large part of that is because I am fastidious when it comes to grooming.

97 Matt Krachunis January 28, 2011 at 2:05 pm

I was in the US Army for 6 years- no facial hair
I was in outside B2B sales for a Fortune 500 for 4 years- no facial hair
I have been a full time pastor for 3 years- Facial hair (well trimmed goatee)

In my Psych class in college they showed us data that said that people with facial aren’t as trustworthy. I’m not sure I buy that. I think this is the most important part- TRIMMED and GROOMED. Sharp edges, short cut. It says you’re African American, and I say if you’re beard looks like Seneca Wallace (i’m a hawks fan) DO IT. His was full, but trimmed and looked really handsome. I think its possible, but trimmed and groomed.

98 Gray January 28, 2011 at 2:13 pm

Keep it neat and it will always be professional. If you are worried about getting a job because of having a beard then this is not the job for you anyway. Start your own firm and quit letting others decide your fate. Grow a beard, be a man, go your own way in this life.

99 Gerard January 28, 2011 at 2:16 pm

whether or not you choose to wear a beard is a choice that will directly impact your degree of success in outside sales. sorry guys,,,but I have always been told and have noticed it for myself, that you are trusted more as clean shaven man. You can wear a beard but your sales will probably go down. Also if your clients experience any problems with your product, they are more likely to believe your explanations when you are clean shaven. I have been in the sales and service industry 34 years and have noticed for myself that I experience higher gross sales in a month when clean shaven.

100 Bearded Librarian January 28, 2011 at 2:20 pm

Not really, at least not in academic environments.. I get nothing but compliments (especially since I twist/braid the beard). As Brett himself said, growing a beard can become your calling card. Amusingly enough, I also shave my head. I grow the epic beard and am a member of Team Beard USA, so this thing growing on my face isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. :)

I disagree about beard trimming. Not for religious reasons mind you, but if you are going to grow it, while grow it half-ass? :)

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post:

Site Meter