/ Brightly coloured hair and getting a job

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tlm - on 18 Jun 2013
So, my niece likes to colour her hair pink, purple, blue - it is an ever changing rainbow!

When she was at school, they say that you can only have 'natural' looking colours, and lots of people have told her that it will be a problem if she ever is looking for a job.

She thinks that it would depend on the type of job, and that for some artistic jobs, it might even be an advantage.

So my question for those of you who actually interview and select job candidates is: would pink or purple hair affect your choice of candidate, and for what type of job?
Little Brew - on 18 Jun 2013
In reply to tlm: My friend also goes for the Multi hair colour, but as she is a teacher she only does this out of term time now as the school 'frown on but not ban' this behaviour.

as for job interviews, for a shop position or a phone sales, cant see the issue, a receptionist or a bank teller, I see an issue being raised.
Skyfall - on 18 Jun 2013
In reply to tlm:

It's the old thing isn't it - it really only matters whether it is an issue for the particular role. Dependent upon how well the candidate presented themselves, it might be a disadvantage for a traditional professional role (lawyer/accountant etc) where your customers are largely conservative, or at least expecting a conservative approach when they seek your advice. I say "might" because there are plenty of other reasons why it might not be an issue even for those jobs - nowadays it does tend to be more about how good you are at your job - but image itself does sometimes come into that. Thankfully many other parts of society are much less traditional and I doubt it would matter overly for most jobs.
Trangia on 18 Jun 2013
In reply to tlm:

As a past employer (service industry sector) I'd suggest not for interview, although as has been said it depends on what the job is. Getting a job is the top priority, she can always enquire afterwards what their policy is, but my instincts say in the current employment market don't risk reducing your chances for the sake of your hair colour, unless youare really confident it will sell you to them.
franny on 18 Jun 2013
In reply to tlm: Hi, I work as a quantity surveyor in a managerial capacity and have to deal with quite high profile clients and I have had permanent pink streaks in my hair whilst working in this role, nobody commented.

One of the PA's also colours her hair different colours regularly and nobody says anything.

Although saying that I wouldn't have done it if I was going for an interview and would also say that I think it makes a difference if it is done properly or not, as some peoples coloured hair can look really messy.

If I was interviewing, overall it wouldn't make a difference to me as I would be more interested in their personality and their qualifications, although I may be more open to peoples choice of hair colour than some. I do think its more common than it used to be.

Hope that helps.
lanky_suction1 on 18 Jun 2013 - whois?
In reply to tlm:

When I had my nose pierced (aged about 18 I think), my mum always told me it had ruined my chances of ever getting a job. I then became a teacher - just like my mum. This was a long time ago, and some older colleagues mentioned that it was 'frowned upon' but they never quite dared to ask me to remove it outright! I didn't stay long in the sort of places where it was considered unacceptable, and eventually it became more 'mainstream'.

Like the answers above, it definitely depends on what type of jobs she will be going for. It is unlikely that she would be happy in the sorts of careers where it would be a hindrance though! Brightly coloured hair has also become a lot more mainstream, you see people of all ages and walks of life with coloured hair.
EeeByGum - on 18 Jun 2013
In reply to tlm:

> So my question for those of you who actually interview and select job candidates is: would pink or purple hair affect your choice of candidate, and for what type of job?

Absolutely. In the same way that a candidate wearing jeans and trainers would get short thrift. Sadly, at the end of the day, if you want to work for a professional organisation, being an individual doesn't really count for that much.
Quiddity - on 18 Jun 2013
In reply to tlm:

How old is she out of interest? Overall I would be inclined to say let her be herself and find a career that suits that, rather than encouraging her to be a drone, which tends to be the advice that schools give out.

When I interviewed/employed people I would be actively favourably disposed to interviewees who display a bit of individuality provided they had made an effort and looked professional - being and looking professional is not the same as looking the same as everybody else. That being said I worked for a small company in quite a young industry, I quit a larger company to work for them because it was too corporate - there is definitely more pressure to conform in general in a corporate environment.

For the record I look reasonably alternative, I got promoted into a position as account director in a digital marketing company, in charge of the relationship with some very big corporate clients, and I don't really think hair/piercings etc. were ever particularly a problem.

In a big metropolis eg London it is much less of a big deal than it would be in a small town, I imagine.
SGD - on 18 Jun 2013
In reply to tlm: The woman opposite me has Blue hair (not a blue rinse ). She always dresses in a way that compliments the colour of her hair and therefore it looks professional rather than individual.

No one bats an eye lid when they see her because it doesn't really stand out. But I think if she decided to start changing the colour on a regular basis it might start to raise a few eye brows.

I work for the NHS
Axel Smeets - on 18 Jun 2013
In reply to tlm:

This week my time has mainly been spent interviewing for two positions at our firm. A graduate tax trainee role (with study support for professional exams) and a qualified tax senior role.

Call me 'hairist', but if someone came for an interview with brightly coloured pink/blue/purple etc hair, they'd be extremely unlikely to get a second interview.

I'm sure someone will be along shortly to tell me what a terrible person I am.

Fortunately, we've had some excellent candidates and we'll be holding second interviews on Friday for the graduate position. Narrowed it down to two people.
tlm - on 18 Jun 2013
In reply to Quiddity:

She is 16, and at the moment is thinking of applying for part time jobs in high street clothes shops. She is very articulate and mature for her age and does think about the issues involved, but we both thought that this was a good place to get a wider range of opinions from people who actually do the employing.

Other people, such as school, her mum etc tend to have a more conservative view and a bit of a vested interest, so she doesn't get don't get such a balanced view.
The Lemming - on 18 Jun 2013
Ramblin dave - on 18 Jun 2013
In reply to tlm:
Depends on the job and depends on the person, I think.

I'm in software R&D and I don't think we'd bat an eyelid at something like that in a developer - we'd be more surprised if someone turned up without any noticeable eccentricities. The same would go for (say) a Shoreditch based design outfit or something.

And the person makes a lot of difference as well, I think - if someone's well turned out and businesslike then coloured hair will seem like an interesting quirk, whereas if they're more sloppy and less professional then it'll probably make the impression even worse.

Trangia on 18 Jun 2013
In reply to The Lemming:

Possibly if he was training the All Blacks to perform the Haka
owlart - on 18 Jun 2013
In reply to tlm: There's a lady (20's?) I see going to/from work up the road from me at HSBC's Invoice Factoring offices here that has the most gorgeous shade of red hair, and always looks immaculately presented.

If colouring her hair is a part of her whole personality, would she want to work for someone so blinkered that they put hair colour above ability to do the job?
Quiddity - on 18 Jun 2013
In reply to tlm:

I know quite a few obviously alternative looking people in quite high-end careers, eg. in media, IT and finance sectors - they all have found ways to dress up their appearance to look professional without compromising who they are as individuals.

I have on a couple of occasions been briefed for interviews by people I know, who more or less told me to tone down my appearance for the interview (I have long hair and a couple of piercings, nothing particularly extreme). I didn't, and was offered the job on both occasions. In my view, this is who I am - if they have a problem with that, they probably have a problem with me as an individual and it isn't a company I would want to work for - interviews are a two-way process after all.
Quiddity - on 18 Jun 2013
In reply to Ramblin dave:

> And the person makes a lot of difference as well, I think - if someone's well turned out and businesslike then coloured hair will seem like an interesting quirk, whereas if they're more sloppy and less professional then it'll probably make the impression even worse.

^ This. An articulate and professional attitude goes a long way.
Needkraken - on 18 Jun 2013
In reply to tlm: I have had many different hair colours through university and past that, when going for industrial placements (I work in chemistry) I had note bright but quite vivid purple hair, got though to the last 2 but missed out due to grades.

I got a summer job at a big drugs firm with red hair and my current phd role with that, since then I've gone through bright green and too orange.

There are some, especially retail based, that like a more individual look so it depends on the job etc. If I was going for a corporate job I'd tone it down and when I finish my funding here I'll aim for a slightly less vivid hair tone but it's not quite the same as it used to be
Andy Hardy on 18 Jun 2013
In reply to The Lemming:

Only if he was straight afer this bloke

To the OP: working in a clothes shop on a Saturday having bubble gum pink hair - probably no issue.
Tall Clare - on 18 Jun 2013
In reply to tlm:

I think that it shouldn't be a problem in high street clothes stores - I've been served in the likes of H&M by people with blue, pink, purple hair. As others have said, having a good conscientious attitude is more important in that sort of environment.

I've worked in the arts in the past, with people with hair coloured in all sorts of ways. As long as it's clean and neat (i.e. doesn't smell and, even if it's dreadlocks, doesn't look like a rat's nest) then it shouldn't be an issue, to my mind. No worse than the women in more corporate roles who peroxide their hair.
Alex90 on 18 Jun 2013
In reply to tlm:

I work in IT and I contract for an investment bank, in general you wouldn't get through an interview here if you had multi coloured hair.

Everyones pretty boring here though...except from me!
James Malloch - on 18 Jun 2013
In reply to tlm:

I'd say do what makes her happy. I personally wouldn't want to change myself to make others happy. Done it before and didn't enjoy it.

If she's just young and looking for a PT job on the High Street then I'd imagine she would be fine.
ice.solo - on 18 Jun 2013
In reply to tlm:

i did green and orange for a few years (well into my 30s) and found it rarely an issue with employers, but more a problem with clients. right or wrong, many associate it with drugs (even tho a legion of old ladies die their hair colours even teenagers wouldnt and its cool - unless i dont know something about old people).

a problem i found was keeping it looking good. doesnt take long for colour to look ratty, so need to put in the effort of redying, and the process isnt too good for the hair. fun for a while but gets expensive, tho bleach rather than colour is easy.

personally id not care what colour someones hair was so long as it didnt make for safety issues (like long hair, dreadlocks etc can).
Richard Carter - on 18 Jun 2013
In reply to tlm:

I've experieced three industries and I've found myself moving across a sliding scale of conformity...

Computer games programming: Lots of crazy stuff here, I was too normal and I'm a weirdo!

Photography: Again lots of the people I worked with had brightly coloured hair, tattoos, etc. The only area I'd say where it was less pronounced was wedding photography, the clean cut look was a lot more common there unsuprisingly.

Accountancy: Suits and natural hair, no visible tattoos, etc.

I've hired about 50 people (not all at once!), I'd consider having brightly coloured hair a plus point. That said, I do value individuality quite highly.
snoop6060 - on 18 Jun 2013
In reply to tlm:

My missus has multi coloured hair and is now an English Teacher. That said, she did tone it down (really dark red) for the interview.

In her school, they are mega strict about what the pupils can do with their hair but it doesn't apply to staff. Which I find odd, I don't think schools should be able to tell kids how to cut their hair.

It certainly doesn't matter in my line of work (IT), though its an odd industry where jeans and trainers are generally accepted office attire.
John_Hat - on 18 Jun 2013
In reply to tlm:

Depends on the job and the person. For "artistic" roles I would imagine it would be pretty accepted, less so for professional roles.

Whilst I personally wouldn't give a toss about interesting hair colours (I'm an accountant), there's always the chance of being interviewed by someone who will drop her from selection entirely based on her hair colour, so yes, I would advise her against.

On the other hand, a close friend of mine works as financial director for a large global firm and earns a staggering amount of money. She has bright red hair. However she's also stupidly good at her job, and started with a relatively normal red tint and then built up to her current dayglo-pillar-box-red hair colour over a period of about a year.
johncoxmysteriously - on 18 Jun 2013
In reply to tlm:

I’m a solicitor, and they wouldn’t get through the door. Same goes for visible tattoos and other forms of self-mutilation. I’d say that was pretty much the norm in law firms.

teflonpete - on 18 Jun 2013
In reply to tlm:

I'm the chief engineer in a cinema film laboratory and it wouldn't bother me personally at all for hiring her in engineering or a production role. Our HR director wouldn't be bothered about it for those departments either. Facial tattoos or excessive facial piercings might present a problem but occasional nose and eyebrow rings are no problem. Accounts and customer facing staff have to be fairly conservative (although informal) in their appearance at our place.
John_Hat - on 18 Jun 2013
In reply to tlm:

As I think was said above, it's not necessarily the company its the clients.

Where you are in a situation where you work with a limited number of people then its less of a problem, clearly.

If, however, you are being sent out to clients and potentially in meetings with hundreds of people per year, the chances of someone taking exception are vastly multiplied, and hence can totally see why a company would have an adverse reaction to hair colour if by employing someone they are risking their income.

I would suggest if she is intending to end up at a professional services firm (solicitors, accountants) then I'd head for a normal hair colour, to start with at least.

In terms of high street store assistant, can't see the problem.
PopShot on 18 Jun 2013 -
In reply to tlm: I wouldn't employ anyone with brightly died hair or tattoos. It simply gives a bad impression.
owlart - on 18 Jun 2013
In reply to PopShot: By far the best Social Worker we ever had attached to the school when I was teaching had different coloured hair every week and enough piercings to make a metal detector go haywire! She was far better and much more able than any of the more conservatively dressed ones we had either before or after her. She might have given a bad impression to people who are only interested in looks, but she could do a damn good job.
ThunderCat - on 18 Jun 2013
In reply to PopShot:
> (In reply to tlm) I wouldn't employ anyone with brightly died hair or tattoos. It simply gives a bad impression.

Quite sad that the 'judge a book by its cover' attitude exists.

(Sorry - I'm not picking on you in particular - it's the norm at my company too)

I wonder how many psychopaths, sex offenders and total bastards manage to get through the door because they have shiny shoes, neat haircuts and creases in their trousers, and how many otherwise decent people get the door in their face because they are a bit flamboyant.

Scarab9 - on 18 Jun 2013
In reply to tlm:

There's a whole host of things you're not meant to or are meant to do in an interview. I've been to an interview where they were very strictly looking for a certain type of person - it was a sales job with good money involved and they were very arrogant, driven, and obviously found appearance to be important.

Now I'm not saying they were bad people or even criticizing them, but personally that's not the sort of place I want to work! I didn't that job - I think it's the only one I've not got if I've made it to interview stage - and I've never felt a moments regret.

Why not consider the correlation between the desire to overtly express yourself by your appearance to the desire to do so by personality and how you act day to day?

Basically what I'm saying is, if someone isn't particularly into being like everyone else, they're probably not going to be happy working somewhere where it's required.

Also if she's 16 getting a PT job I'd say this is even more a point! If she wants to get a corporate job where appearance matters later she can always stop dying her hair.
Wiley Coyote2 - on 18 Jun 2013
In reply to tlm:

I would not have employed anyone with visible tatoos, piercings or extremely coloured hair. We dealt with the public and some would take exception to that kind of appearance while I can't imagaine many would have taken it as a positive sign so there would be potential downside and no discenible upside to it. I'm not even sure it does .show individuality as some have suggested - merely conformity to a different 'tribe'. She needs to remember that when she goes for an interview she is selling herself and it's a buyer's market at the moment.
Fat Bumbly2 - on 18 Jun 2013
Back in 1980, purple hair was an asset when looking for a job defending Earth.

(feet like waterwings probably were not).
csambrook - on 18 Jun 2013
Tell her to relax, dress smartly (like she's making a bit of an effort) and be friendly, upbeat and polite. Above all don't worry about the hair colour.
Yes, having unusually coloured hair might be a problem for a (very) small number of employers. Does she really need that particular job so much that she's prepared to work for someone who's so repressive? Remember that an interview is a two-way meeting.
I have never, and would never, let something like hair colour or style get in the way of employing a good candidate. Quite simply they are too hard to find to throw one away on such a silly prejudice. (I employ people in technical design and manufacturing roles from apprentice to senior software and hardware designers).

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