Is Long Hair Considered Unprofessional?

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is long hair considered unprofessional

If you’re a male with long hair that is getting ready for an upcoming job interview, or if you’re joining a new professional work environment, you may be wondering “is long hair considered unprofessional?”

Historically, there has been a stigma around long hair for males in the workplace. However, normal standards of professionalism are evolving at work, particularly as we move more towards a remote work environment.

To that end, this article is going to offer my perspective from over a decade in the corporate environment, including many years as a people and hiring manager, about whether or not long hair is considered unprofessional for males. It will also answer other common questions around long hair and job interviews.

Let’s get started.

Is Long Hair Considered Unprofessional?

In general, long hair is considered professional in most work environments, as long as it is kept neat and is part of an otherwise overall professional appearance.

Note that the above statement is a general one, and it’s going to depend upon your work context. Here are a few things to consider when evaluating whether or not long hair is going to be considered professional in your work context:

1. Is It a More Traditional / Old School Environment?

business suit

If you’re interviewing with a new company and are not sure how the interview team will react to your long hair, go take a look at the company’s website. Look at some of the employees on LinkedIn. You can generally get a baseline sense of the way that the company’s employees present themselves on those two platforms.

If you see others with more modern styles and long hair, you’re in good shape. If everyone has short hair and is clean shaven, then you’ll be at more risk of your long hair being perceived as unprofessional.

2. Does Long Hair Pose a Safety or Hygiene Risk?

An instance where long hair would likely be considered unprofessional is if it causes some type of safety or hygiene risk.

For example, if you work in the food industry in some capacity and there’s increased risk of getting hair in somebody’s food. In situations like that, your long hair presents a greater risk of being perceived as a problem.

3. Is It a Customer-facing Role?

customer meeting

Another instance where there’s increased risk of hair being considered unprofessional is if you’re in a customer-facing role.

Again, this is more likely to be the case if you’re in an old school and/or more traditional type of industry but it could come up in more modern ones as well.

In general, the big thing is that you need to have an overall neat and professional appearance so if your long hair fits within that, it’s more likely that you’ll be ok.

What Long Hair Styles Are Considered Unprofessional

unprofessional hair style

There are certain characteristics of a long hair style that may be likely to be considered unprofessional than others.

Here are a few characteristics that are more likely to be considered unprofessional than others:

  • Hair that is dyed an unusual color (i.e., orange, pink, blue, etc.)
  • Hair that is extremely long (i.e., well below the shoulders)
  • Hair that is unkept (do you look like a rock and roll star?)

The general rule of thumb that you need to follow is that your hair needs to be a part of an overall professional appearance.

Particularly if you’re in a customer facing role, you need to introduce yourself professionally, present yourself professionally, and represent your company in the most positive possible light. Your hair should not take away from your ability to do that. If you keep that in mind, and keep an overall professional look, you should be fine.

Is Long Hair Allowed In Corporate?

meeting room

In general, long hair for males is allowed in corporate environments, as long as it is kept neat and is part of an otherwise overall professional appearance.

However, there are instances where it may be an issue, such as if it’s an old school environment, your hair could pose some sort of hygiene risk, or it’s a customer facing role.

If your concerned about it, and your long hair is important to you, be sure to ask about the company dress policy during the interview process.

Does Long Hair Affect Job Opportunities?

In general, long hair should not negatively affect job opportunities, as long as it is kept neat and is part of an otherwise professional appearance.

Additionally, if it is a context where long hair could negatively affect your job opportunity, that provides a good chance to evaluate if working in a context like that is something that you really want. 

As long as your long hair is kept neat and professional, it’s totally reasonable to have long hair at work. And if a company is more interested in your appearance rather than the skills that you bring to the table, it may not be a place that you want to work anyway.

Can I Go To a Job Interview With Long Hair?

Yes, in general, you can go to a job interview with long hair as long as it is kept neat and is part of an otherwise professional appearance. 

Now, a couple of things to consider.

First, the neat and professional appearance is extremely important. You absolutely do not want to go to an interview looking like a metalhead. 

To that end, here is a great video from Adam’s Hair Stuff on how to style long hair for a formal interview or event:

The second thing to consider would be the culture of the company. Go take a look at the company’s website and LinkedIn and get a sense of how the males at the company present themselves. If everyone seems to have short hair and a very buttoned up look, that might be a sign that short hair is a better way to go.

Do I Need to Cut My Hair for a Job Interview?

job interview

In general, no, you don’t need to cut your hair for a job interview. However, your hair absolutely should be neat and part of an otherwise professional appearance at a job interview.

As an interviewer, the way that I think about it is that the person that I’m interviewing is trying to present themselves in the best possible light at that interview.

With that in mind, I tend to be pretty unforgiving when it comes to punctuality, professional appearance, and communication during interviews. My thought is that if they can’t show up on time or present themselves professionally during a time when the stakes are highest, how can I trust them to do so as an employee.

So keep in mind that presenting yourself professionally at an interview is extremely important. And if you can do that without cutting your hair, then you don’t need to cut your hair.

Can a Job Not Hire Me Because of My Hair?

A job can choose to not hire you because of your hair. Most employers maintain dress codes and grooming policies and if your hair does not meet those, then a company can choose not to hire you. That’s particularly true in cases where the role may be customer or public facing in some way. 

In fact, company hiring policies around hair have even been challenged in court in some instances and the courts have generally sided with companies in saying that they can choose not to hire someone because of their hair.

Note that the biggest area that a company can get into trouble when it comes to hiring practices is around discrimination based upon race, sex, religion, age, or another protected class.

Do Employers Care About Hair?

thinking person

Employers care about a professional appearance, especially if your role is public and/or customer facing in some way.

In general, an employer is not going to care about your specific hair style too much, as long as it is part of a neat and professional look.

Jobs That Don’t Care About Long Hair

There are certain types of job that aren’t going to care about long hair, or are going to care about it less than other types of jobs.

Here are examples of jobs that are not going to care about long hair:

  • Computer programmer
  • Retail
  • Construction 
  • Social Work

Basically, jobs where you are not customer facing and/or it is not a traditional white collar environment are going to be less likely to care about long here.

For additional ideas, here is a great video from Thomas In Action who talks about great jobs for long hair styles:

Conclusion

It used to be that there was much more of a stigma about long hair in the workplace for males. However, in more modern times, companies are much more open to different styles.

So, to the question of “is long hair considered unprofessional,” as long as your long hair is kept neat and is part of an overall professional appearance, your long hair will be considered professional and you’ll be fine in the workplace.

About the author

Dan Slocum

Dan is the founder of Best Fit Work and is a business professional with over 10 years of experience. He has been a hiring and people manager on multiple occasions, and has also gone through the hiring process himself at a variety of different companies. Dan serves as a career counselor on the side. He writes to share content, tools, and resources to help people discover and thrive in their own best fit work.

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