Does your hair define who you are…in an interview?
As you sit twisting away at your dreads, you wonder why you didn’t get the job you always wanted, knowing you were qualified and you made a great first impression. Not being able to put your finger on a specific reason for not being called back leads to immense frustration.
Did you ever think that it may just have been because of those beautiful locks flowing from your head? Believe it or not, what you have on top of your head can have a major impact when it comes to career marketing.
Truth is, as seasons and styles change, so do hair styles. In order to better prepare yourself for that elusive interview, you must consider hair do’s and don’ts.
On a personal note, I have come across many jobs where hair was the reason for not getting the job. Thus, the next question surfaces: What is so important about the way your hair looks that makes an employer decide whether or not they will hire you?
First and foremost you must recognize that “Corporate America” has dress codes, even for hair. Most hair issues revolve around old-fashioned blue collar Monday – Friday 9-5 jobs. Given the conservative nature, many companies are concerned about image in order not to be frowned upon by mainstream America.
Natural Hair vs Straight
Natural curly hair, aka Afro, is a way for African Americans, as well as other nationalities with the same hair type, to embrace their roots. Unfortunately, there remain many negative stereotypes revolving around hairstyles. For example, many employers believe that big natural curly afro’s women wear today says too much about the person. First impressions, wrong as they may be, suggest, natural curly afros indicate the person will act like a “wild individual.” While straight hair indicates “empowerment and confidence” to the person who is interviewing you according to an ORMC HR rep.
More now than ever, women are growing their natural curly hair into big beautiful afros. But are afros too much for the interview? It appears so as “Corporate America” seems to yell a resounding “yes,” the bigger the afro, the less likely you will get the job.
Truth is: According to Afro-State of Mind author Laurie Daniel Favors, many jobs and panels frown upon the idea of women wearing natural hair in the work place.
Should your hair make a statement? Often you see people topping bright hair colors such as pink and red, even darker colors like blue. But what is your hair telling the people who are interviewing you? Not to cut this short, but It may be best to minimize the shock factor by making sure your hair color won’t make the company feel as if they would be ashamed to introduce you to a potential client.
Career tip #1: Allow your hair color to should suit you, but not stand out.
My hair color was a main issue for me when working for an enormous company over three years. When I decided to dye my hair a color lighter or a color darker, I was told it had to compliment my skin tone in order to fit in with the company’s guidelines. It was made clear that if it did not, I would be forced to wear a wig while at work. Even during the interview process I was told if I got the job I would have to change my hair color upon starting.
Career tip #2: Read the fine print as hair color policies are often written in fine print within their employee booklets.
More jobs have become hair lenient when it comes to dreads as long as they are kept clean. When it comes to initial interviews, play it safe as others still oppose or carry negative perceptions.
There remain misconceptions when it comes to dreadlocks and many employers do not like the look of matted hair, seeing them as not befitting to part of their business appearance. “Young black men with dreads are often perceived as thugs,” said Dr. Gilo Kwesi when interviewed by Mary Mitchell on the topic.
Many of my friends have gone on interviews at a job that I used to have. During the interview they were asked if they received a job offer, would they be ok cutting off the dreads or removing the braids. Unfortunately, most of them did not agree to those terms and were denied the job because it did not fit in with that company’s “look” guideline.
Interested in a certain job that you know has a tendency to turn away people with natural, colored, or dreaded hair? Are you willing to do whatever it takes to get that job offer? If so, I suggest you stick a hot comb to the hair and color it a solid color. If you want to remain with natural curls, pull them back into a neat bun. If you are not willing to change your hair style to fit the company’s appearance guidelines, you simply need to find a job that best suits you and your hair.
When unsure of the hair policy, remember first impressions are critical, recognize you not being offered a job could be due to what’s on top of your head. One more hint, always research the company and the guidelines prior to applying to the job.
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