Can a Beard be Professional? (Or Will it Hurt Job Prospects)

From boardrooms to breakrooms, various states of bearded men can be seen making deals and getting jobs done. Can a beard be professional in the workplace? Absolutely!

A beard can be professional in today’s workplace. While some industries and job positions still favor clean-shaven employees, others embrace facial hair. Work environments that encourage beards include advertising, computer programming, engineering, and academia; however, lawyers, bankers, and corporate officers are still clean-shaven overall.

If you’re curious to know if a beard will hurt your job prospects, read on!

Is a beard considered unprofessional in 2022?

The beard has had quite the roller coaster ride throughout history. One minute it’s associated with protestors and radicals; commanding generals the next. Since the bearded landscape often changes, what’s the rule for the workplace?

A beard is still considered unprofessional in a few job markets in 2022. However, grooming policies are becoming more relaxed as attitudes and perceptions change.

Let’s look at current perceptions, statistics, and trends to consider when choosing whether or not to wear a beard in your work environment.

Surveys

What do people really think about the beard? Well, it depends on who you ask.

According to the researchers at PayScale, the younger you are, the more casual your workplace tends to be.

Data collected from over 16,000 employees, found facial hair to be the most acceptable form of self-expression in the workplace. Only 17% reported, beards being banned.

Studies show women often perceive bearded men to be of a higher status, older, and more aggressive than clean-shaven counterparts.

Definitely something to consider depending on your job role!

Statistics

A 2017 study of American men found that 33% always wore a beard, while another 27% did sometimes.

It’s no surprise then that these bearded men are currently in the workplace.

When asked about the formality of dress and appearance in the workplace, the above PayScale study concluded that 6.5% of baby boomers reported a formal culture, compared to less than 5% among millennials. 

Trends

Thirty years ago the era of alternative rock and grunge ushered in a new generation of scruff and goatees. Light beards like these were easy to grow on weekends and vacations, so you could feel like a rock star on your days off.

Slowly, a bearded culture change became evident and beards weren’t just for free time.

Beards have taken off in the workplace with the increase in on-again/off-again remote work and, the need to win employees by offering more flexible environments. 

Why is being clean-shaven seen as more professional?

Depending on his profession, you may have vivid memories of your dad or granddad starting every work day with a shave. This used to be the norm.

Being clean-shaven is seen as more professional because it shows you’ve taken the time to groom yourself. Beards are not preferred by everyone, so remaining clean-shaven has a wider appeal.

Beards get a bad rap for being dirty and untamed. A Vietnam vet might associate a beard with anti-war protestors. A client’s bearded, rotten scoundrel of a husband might have betrayed her, so the mere presence of a bearded man makes her cringe. You get the picture.

Experiences alter reality. It’s sometimes safer to eliminate any possible objection by grabbing a razor. Thankfully, perceptions are changing.

Should businessmen always be clean-shaven?

When it comes to appearance, there aren’t many absolutes. Standards are constantly shifting.

Businessmen shouldn’t assume they always must be clean-shaven. Beards can be appropriate in business. Employees should consider grooming policies, company culture, and the nature of their role when making the beard decision.

Look around the office, do you see other bearded men? Take note of the popular styles. Have an interview coming up? Check out the company’s social media accounts or website for a glimpse into what is or isn’t acceptable. Will you be at your desk all day or out making client calls? Doing a little investigative work can help you successfully navigate the facial hair debate.

Jobs in which a beard is considered professional

There are many work environments where facial hair is not only welcomed but encouraged.

These jobs tend to be more beard-friendly:

  • Graphic design/advertising – Artistic jobs tend to attract individuals who express themselves through their appearance. Graphic design and advertising firms often encourage the hipster vibe. Beards of all shapes and sizes can be seen on design teams.
  • IT/Computer programming – Behind-the-scene jobs like IT and computer programming usually don’t require a lot of grooming rules. As long as you are keeping the networks in good working order, beards don’t matter.
  • Engineering – Most engineers spend most of their work time in a room filled with schematics and equations. Long nights conducting tests and early mornings filled with troubleshooting don’t leave much time for daily shaving.
  • Academia – We all can recall a bearded professor from our college days. Students think the beards are hip, so the presence of one is sure to help with student relations. Academics spend the rest of their work time desk deep in research. Who has time for a shave?

Jobs in which a beard is considered unprofessional

Even with today’s acceptance of the beard, there are still certain environments where clean-shaven faces rule.

Jobs that are still likely to be clean-shaven include:

  • C-Suite – Take a look at the Who’s Who of Fortune 500 CEOs and beards are few and far between. The higher up you go in an organization the more clean-shaven it becomes. Tradition plays a big part in this phenomenon. Many high-level employees are older and adhere to the way things have always been done. 
  • Lawyers – Walk into a courtroom and you’ll likely notice a pattern among male attorneys – smooth faces. There’s a reason for that. Beards are often associated with the criminal population. Lawyers want to impress the jurors, not intimidate them.
  • Bankers – Banking is a high-profile client-facing industry. Bankers are often wheeling and dealing with high-level executives. Conservative dress and conservative grooming habits permeate this field even in a more relaxed culture.

However, attitudes are slowly changing, and you might see employees challenging the status quo.

How to wear a beard professionally

If you are in an industry where beards get promoted, good for you! 

A beard can be worn professionally as long as you keep it clean, trimmed, and in healthy condition.

Here are some tips to make sure both you and your beard achieve glowing performance reviews:

Keep it clean

No one wants to guess what you had for lunch by looking at your beard.

Keep your beard clean at all times. Give it a good wash before work.

Continue to keep it fresh by always having wet wipes handy to use after business lunches and coffee breaks. 

Keep it trimmed

Even if your company grooming policy allows for beards, length limits may be imposed.

Professional beards aren’t scraggly and untamed. Keep your beard trimmed regularly.

Sharp, clean lines around the cheek area and sideburns show attention to detail.

Keep it healthy

Your beard can be squeaky clean and trimmed, but if it’s in poor condition, it can look unprofessional.

Maintain your beard’s health by using good quality beard oil to add shine and lock in moisture. Use a beard conditioner for added hydration.