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Is having a beard a no-no for interviews at financial services companies?

20/09/2013

Last year an MBA student targeting roles in the financial services sector asked me if I thought he should keep his beard. The beard was closely cropped and actually suited him. He was worried he would look too young without one.

I asked our career coach specializing in financial services and the advice he gave was to play it safe and not have a beard if you are going for job in the finance sector, especially in London. He did temper this with the proviso that he was fairly traditional in his approach, but then we agreed that the City of London was a fairly traditional place; you don’t see too many people going to work in jeans and trainers. Compare that with an online or media business, where as long as your beard / trainers / jeans are trendy, a more casual look is definitely the norm. I have worked with Expedia and visiting their London offices I felt pretty “conservative” amongst the fashion conscious employees in Covent Garden!

Clearly a scruffy beard in any sector is not advisable but my view is that, as usual, it’s best to take advice from someone actually working in that sector as to what would be acceptable. If you really don’t want to take the risk then play it safe and go clean shaven. Of course you may have strong reasons for keeping the beard; but if you’re doing it just for fashion, think carefully.

Finally, if you feel that an employer who has an issue with a beard isn’t the type of employer you want to work for anyway – then good for you!

I would be particularly interested in views of career coaches and employers in different sectors and countries, so please post below with your views.

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