7 answers

Is it true that curlier hair and cultural hairstyles are looked down upon in a professional setting? Is straighter hair preferred or is this a myth?

Asked Richmond, Virginia

People can manipulate their hair in many ways i.e dread locs, braids, kinky twist, afro ranging in multitudes of curls, etc. Working, in many cases, means being professional. This alludes to the concept of being groomed (good hygiene, tidy appearance). There is this notion that hair that is not straight or tucked in a bun/ponytail is highly discouraged. For people who manipulate their hair into dread locs, braids, or other cultural hairstyles, or simply have thicker curls, it is hard and sometimes even damaging to straighten their hair. It is just discouraging, and I need to know if hair can genuinely be a set back for applicants. #job-search #job-coaching #career-advice #professional-training

7 answers

Kim’s Answer

Updated San Antonio, Texas


The underlying question to your question is, "Is there racism and discrimination in the hiring practice?" The answer is "yes." Sorry. Certain occupations tend to be more conservative, and others, more permissive. One does not show up with green hair, piercings, and tats for a bank teller interview. However, it might be acceptable in other positions. The general rule of thumb is to go in conservative, and then learn what the culture is. I honestly do not know what other people have to go through to straighten their hair. It may not need to be straightened, simply worn in a more conservative style. I think what you wear, how you talk, and generally, how you present yourself, will combine to be more important than your hair. Besides, and I know this sounds rough, but, do you really want to work there if they are going to preclude you based on a hair style? You need to be able to be yourself, to a point. Dressing professionally should not mean having to deny your heritage and culture!

Thank you so much!!

Carole’s Answer

Updated Rancho Palos Verdes, California

Wanita: I agree completely with Kim the writer just before me. In saying that I would like to go into what might be acceptable and not acceptable: 1. While dreadlocks shouldn't prevent you from getting a job, you need to make sure your hair is clean and controlled no matter how you wear it. Remember that maintaining a professional image by carefully choosing what you wear, how much make-up you put on and if you tattoos are large and can be seen inappropriately. 2. Unnatural hair colors (pink green and blue) will be an issue for almost all employers. If you are applying for something in the arts area it might be ok, but not for the general professional world. If you have one of these colors you could always tone it down for the interviewing process, and make sure you know something about this company so you are prepared with the proper clothes, make-up, hair, shoes etc. After all ask yourself what is more important you hair color or a chance to land a job. 3. Personal expression is very empowering, but until you have landed a job with an employer who appreciates unique personal expression or you have become very successful it is best to stay more conservative and know a little bit more about the people in the company and how they see you. 4. Facial Piercings are distracting at best and against some company policies. If you have a tongue piercing that can be annoying to the interviewer. 5. Yes these answers might be somewhat prejudicial or discriminatory, but if you are looking for a job, it is up to you to try and be as prepared as you can to make a good impression and less about the color of your hair or whether it is curly or straight. For the interview you should follow these ideas suggested: Dress conservatively, hair neat and clean, practice answering interview questions with a friend, Research the company that you are interviewing with so that when it is your turn to ask questions you have some, make sure you have a good hand shake and very good eye contact with interviewer. Your personality will come out more when they ask you questions, so your job is to WOW them. Curly or straight is really doesn't matter as long as it is neat and clean for the interview and the color is more natural. Tattoos can be hidden and piecing can be left off for the interview.

Good luck with your job search and I hope you gained some insight into what interviewing is about. SELL YOURSELF TO THIS COMPANY


Thank you; I really appreciate your advice!

Raymond’s Answer

Updated Boston, Massachusetts

I agree with the previous two responses. You want to put your best foot forward but you shouldn't have to completely change who you are culturally.

Definitely no visible piercings and tattoos, bright hair color. Keep your appearance neat, clean and conservative.

Ken’s Answer

Updated Cleveland, Ohio

Hi Wanita!

Here is some information from Michigan State University, where I went to school. http://careernetwork.msu.edu/jobs-internships/appearance-and-attire/dressing-for-interviews.html

Let me know if and how this might help.

Desiare’s Answer

Updated Houston, Texas

This is a perfect question for me. I have worn my natural hair for over 3 years and changed jobs twice since. I have not had any problems here in Texas as far as interviewing or getting hired in a professional field. I make sure my hair is neat and clean, a natural color and it is not a huge Afro.

It should not matter how you wear hair as long as it is not distracting or dirty. You also have to consider the industry or organization that you work with. If you in the music industry, it may be acceptable to wear colored hair versus working for a law firm wear the attire is more conservative.

Maria’s Answer

Updated Quarryville, Pennsylvania

what a great question!!! I totally agree with the previous answers. If you feel uncomfortable interviewing with your current hair style, try a wig. That can be fun and give you a little confidence as well if you feel you look your best and what they expect. There are some companies that this wouldn't be an issue but you can't always gauge that so be conservative. You can determine what you can do and can't do once you get the job. I remember when EDS required all women to wear 2" heals, black or navy blue suits, nude color hose and no kick pleats or slits in your skirt. We've come a long way, baby!! Also, dress a little better than what the dress code is at the job. Ask the recruiter who sets up the interview. If they are casual, dress business casual. If they are business casual, dress business formal e.g. a suit or a nice dress.
I think we as women are always judged a little harsher than our male counter parts.
Best of luck!!

Michelle’s Answer

Updated Houston, Texas


During my 20+ career with AIG, I've had multiple hairstyles ranging from relaxed, braids, & locs and I never felt as if my hair has limited my career opportunities. As long as you present yourself in a professional manner and your appearance is neat, tidy and not outlandish, you will be successful.