I am a 21 year-old African-American and I am in my senior year of college. This
year I will start interviewing for jobs in the field of electrical engineering. My hair
is in a braided fashion and I am wondering if it would be to my benefit to cut my
hair off or leave it as it is? Please respond when you get the chance.
The Career Doctor responds:
First let me tell you this funny anecdote. A clean-cut student walked into my office last
month at the beginning of the semester and asked to speak with me. Not recognizing
him I gave him my yes-we-can-talk-but-only-for-a-moment look because I was in the
middle of a project. He chuckled and told me his name — one of my advisees since
he was a first-year student. But he was one of these guys who had long shaggy
surfer hair and often wore a ball cap. I had to do about a triple take before I recognized
him. And to his credit he said he cleaned up because he knew appearance
mattered in job-hunting. First impressions are critical.
So that’s the moral of the story. If your braids are tight and the rest of your
appearance is sharp I would think keeping your hair as is would work. I think
braids often look sharp. Of course I am also a firm believer in erring on the side
of conservatism so not being able to see your hair I would probably recommend
cutting it. You can always grow it back if the company culture allows it.
Better check with your professors and the career services office and solicit their
advice. If you have a mentor or former boss get those opinions.
Bottom line never give a reason for an employer to reject you.
Get more “dress for success” resources in this article published on Quintessential Careers: When
Job-Hunting: Dress for Success.