Job Seekers Need to Color Their Hair to Get Hired [Poll]

by Sharlyn Lauby on November 8, 2012

I ran across an interesting post titled “The New Job-Interview Dress Code”. The title intrigued me since I’ve written about this subject a few times. I was reminded of the article when I saw the latest Bloomberg Businessweek post-election magazine covers:

interview, job, job interview, gray hair, color, poll, dress code

In reading the dress code piece, I’m not sure there was any really new information about dressing for interviews. But close to the end of the article, they mentioned gray hair.

And they suggested that in order to get the job, you have to color your hair if it’s naturally gray.

I’m struggling with this advice.

[Insert sarcasm here.] I know this will come as a shock to you guys…but I color my hair. I know, gasp! I do it because I like it. More importantly, Mr. Bartender likes it. And occasionally, my friends and acquaintances tell me it looks good. It’s one thing to color your hair because you want to. It’s another to tell someone it might be a requirement for steady employment.

Besides, as the article points out, there are lots of people who look fabulous in silver, white and salt/pepper hair. Why should they have to color it?

So what do you guys think? Do me a favor and weigh in on the one question poll below. I’ll post the results in a week or so.

{ 13 comments }

RR November 8, 2012 at 5:22 am

That is actually a type of discrimination in my opinion and it’s absurd.

Pulasthi November 8, 2012 at 5:47 am

No! Hair color doesn’t matter during a job interview. Experience and career matters for a job

Sharon November 8, 2012 at 10:12 am

It should not matter what color a candidate’s hair is but unfortunately, it makes a difference. Conscious and unconscious bias against older workers exists even though it is offensive and may be discriminatory based on age.

Carol November 8, 2012 at 10:21 am

Age bias, conscious or not, is always a possibility. However, if you’re going for a job where a senior, seasoned person is desirable, it may be to your advantage to have gray hair. In some groups it conveys experience and thus credibility.
If you are competing for a job in a field populated by younger people, hiding the gray might be more appropriate.
So, it depends on the position and the competition, I would say.

Michael Sabbag November 8, 2012 at 10:51 am

I think that coloring your hair is no different than wearing a suit rather than jeans. It creates a different perception in those that view you. Unfortunately, the first thing people learn in a face-to-face conversation comes through their eyes before they have a chance to learn anything about you.

What’s also interesting is that early in my career, I was told that I looked too young and would not be taken seriously as a consultant. Now I have to color my hair so that I don’t look too old. Ironic!

Kayleigh L November 8, 2012 at 11:41 am

I wish there was a “It should not matter and no one should have to do it, but that is the way it is.” option on your poll.

Sharlyn Lauby November 8, 2012 at 1:57 pm

Thanks everyone for sharing your thoughts. You’re bringing up exactly what troubled me. It shouldn’t be an issue…but somehow it is. And gender might be a factor. It’s interesting watching the poll results.

Phyllis Mufson November 8, 2012 at 5:04 pm

My hair started graying at 14 and I’ve never colored it. I haven’t had problems getting hired although I’m well into the age-range that’s supposed to be a target for ageism. I think looking current and vital trumps efforts to look young.

Shiela Gomez November 8, 2012 at 7:27 pm

As a hair pro, i feel you should really color your grey as a woman, men can get away with grey hair. First, for women. Grey hair makes your facial skin look dull and washed out thus making you look run down and gives off a not-so-energetic impression to your prospective employer. It also looks like you really want the job when one prepares for the interview by looking your best. For men, having grey hair is fine as long as you keep it short and styled (gel or wax). In political circles, it is a sign of wisdom. The impression is you are experienced and knowledgeable enough to run the office. On the other hand, for some, there comes a time when grey simply makes you look old. They will doubt you for your capabilities because you might appear unhealthy for the job. So men, here’s your guide: 70% scattered grey you can get away. 100% grey you should color but please avoid black or darkest brown because it really does look like fake hair. Try camouflaging your grey instead of covering it.

Finally, nothing beats a good-looking tan, especially if you are going for a natural hair color look.
Shiela Gomez recently posted..We’re moving up in the world!

Sharlyn Lauby November 9, 2012 at 8:52 am

Thanks for the comments!

@Phyllis – You bring up two very valid points. 1) some people look awesome with silver hair color and 2) hair style is an equally important factor.

@Shiela – Thank you for bringing in the perspective of a hair professional. It’s easy to forget how our hair color relates to skin tone and overall image. And since you’re the person who colors my hair…I’m glad to know that you consider how I will present myself to clients when we talk about my hair. ;-)

Sal Duque March 15, 2013 at 4:54 pm

Real men don’t color their hair! Makes me wonder about why men recently have been put in a position to have to color their hair. It appears that experienc no longer is as important as it was once.

Looks like a illegal generation war going on!

Sal Duque

Shelly March 25, 2013 at 7:00 pm

This is the most ridiculous requirement I have ever read! I have load of gray hair coming in and I refuse to color it. It is time consuming and costly. If we woman do not embrace our gray hair, how in the world do we expect anyone else in society to do so?
Shelly recently posted..Settling Into My Change – Fifty Is The New Fifty (Part Two)

Sarah April 9, 2013 at 4:05 pm

@Sheila You have it exactly right. I’d suggest anyone to go to the library, check a book out on personal color palates and take it seriously, even men to a point. Ties and shirts do count. Understanding your body type and color palate is critical in this very competitive job market. Why do or not do anything that might hurt you in an interview? Color your hair, people, but keep it natural. That might mean going to a professional to get it right. Think of it as getting a suit tailored. Ethnicity plays into this somewhat. I have about 50% grey hair and everything else is black, so I have a hard decision at 55. Dye it to the darkest shade so I’m not fighting roots all the time which can really look tacky, or lighten it a little to to give me a more youthful appearance. I’m a winter with slightly sallow skin tone so I shop for cool colors within what is exceptable for my career goals. More important than grey hair which is an easy fix is weight.

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: