Question: Scared of looks from job interviewers…

A reader asks…

I’m going bald for charity in a few days and I’m currently looking for a job. Is it cowardly to be scared to death about looks from my future interviewers and employers? I want to do social work and work with people. Am I supposed to be afraid of being unemployed because my image would not suit the social norm?

Please post your response in the comments below.

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Posted by on August 27th, 2010 at 08:00 am

Category: questions 15 comments »

15 Responses to “Question: Scared of looks from job interviewers…”

  1. Sammy

    Went I went looking for a job this past summer (I’m in high school), my mom was really mean about how androgynous I looked- hadn’t told her I was trans yet.

    She made me wear uncomfortable clothes and I didn’t look or feel like myself at all. If you feel and act like yourself going into a new job situation, its much easier to reconcile people to your distinct style, no matter what it is.

    When people hire me its because I’d be a good fit for the job, not because my hair is a certain way. Sure, it might cause them to be curious or a little reserved, but just break it down by being friendly and confident.

    I know how competitive the job market is, but if a potential employer lets something as simple as baldness dissuade them, then they’re not people worth working with in the first place.

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  2. Pixie

    It’s not cowardly, people can judge. BUT think of it this way – would they really be people you want to work with if they judged you based on that?

    Also, if they look uncertain, mention it’s for charity. This might even help you!

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  3. Leni

    It depends on the job and the country. I think unfortunately sometimes you have to conform to the norm if you want to keep the job. Or express yourself subtly. Think about it this way – many people have to wear uniforms, have a dress code at work, do not express all the details of their personality at work. Or if it bothers you so much or it’s impossible for you to conform even slightly to the norm, you want to be 100% yourself at all times and be comfortable(which is understandable, but let’s get real, hardly ever anyone can be, no matter the gender) try to find as tolerant work environment as possible, like working in a LGBTQ center or something…You can do social work there. Once you find a job try to be professional at all times, so that people can judge you only on the basis of your magnificent performance. Then maybe it will be easier for them to overlook/appreciate all of you.
    Good luck

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  4. Astra

    Pixie is right, if you tell them it’s for charity, it probably will help you, especially in the social work you mentioned.

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  5. Null

    Try to be optimistic. :D I am perceived as female and I recently shaved my head. I fully expected a lot of rude comments and assumptions due to it, but instead I had people from all walks of life, from teens to seniors, telling me it looks gorgeous and very bold. So you never know! And if you say it was for charity that will probably make people be nicer right off the bat.

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  6. Jen

    I also shaved my head for charity a few years back and of course I was worried about how people in my small town might take it. One of the first things I realised was that gender norms were working in my favour for once – because if you present as female but have a shaved head, people actually assume that it was either for charity or that you recently finished chemo – because it doesn’t occur to them that a girl might just WANT to have a shaved head.

    when it comes to interviews, I agree with the above – plug the charity angle! (Be subtle of course). It may seem a tad cynical but come on, it’s the job market and there’s a recession on. There are probably people who shave their heads so they can lie and say it was for charity. At least you’re legit and have actually helped people!

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  7. Reagan

    Social work is one of the few places where people actually don’t give a shit about what you look like on the work floor. So don’t worry too much about it.

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  8. Simon

    I don’t know. I haven’t gone job searching yet (eek, last year of college starts on Monday).

    But when I was home a couple of weeks ago, my mom told me that “nobody will want to hire a girl who dresses like a boy.”

    I’m sorry but I’m 100% sure I wouldn’t want to work for anyone who wouldn’t hire such a person. (Although that’s not even how I identify anyway.)

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  9. Anna

    I’m biologically female and usually present on the girlish end of androgynous. I’ve shaved my head twice; once for fun when I was sixteen, and again in April for charity. No one has questioned my competence yet — I feel like punctuality, politeness, and a tidy, rather than traditional, appearance are the important things, though I obviously can’t say this will be true for every interviewer, coworker, or client.

    And of course there’s nothing wrong with being afraid! Shaving my head the first time was a spur-of-the-moment thing, and once I actually realized what I’d done, I was terrified of what people would say — at first. Before long, I felt beautiful.

    Good luck and best wishes, fellow reader. <3

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  10. Len

    I often feel afraid of people treating me like shit because of my looks, I’d rather just have them leave me alone as I do with them. If it’s cowardly, you’re obviously not the only coward (I’m probably worse than you). But please don’t be afraid. Tell them it was for charity if they give you weird looks, but yeah, as others mentioned, be subtle about it. Or direct if they ask directly. Maybe they’re gonna think you’ve finished chemo and won’t ask at all. Please, don’t let social norms scare you. Those preventing individual expression need to be fought against and broken. I wish you luck.

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  11. Anonymous

    Thanks for posting this and all the replies it’s gotten. I went ahead and did it. The interviewer casually asked about it because one of her colleagues did it too. I didn’t get the job though..

    Simon: I understand where you’re coming from. My mom gave me shit even though I was doing it for charity and I was also sure that I didn’t want to work for people who judge my working abilities based on my looks.

    I’m still unsure about being completely ‘myself’ in terms of presentation though. In my head, I really just want to rock a mohawk with lots of tattoos and still be able to work in the human service sector (someday, eh?).
    I tend to worry about such things because I’m living in a conservative country where most people still like to be in their comfort zones. I agree with what most of you are saying though. I’m trying to be subtle, but it’s difficult because I DO stand out(biological female in ‘male’ clothes, blah blah), whether I like it or not.

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  12. Samson

    I’m sorry you didn’t get the job! Good luck with future interviews, though!

    I’m about to go into teaching and I’m also dealing with image/presentation issues–I feel like parents/schools want you to be SO sanitized and “wholesome.” Empathetic hugs to you (if you like hugs)!

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  13. Anonymous

    Thanks!
    Have you got the job yet? It’s tough, but once the kids like you/think you’re cool, you should be fine (some kids are more clingy than others so beware haha). As for parents, as long as they know their kids are learning something from you, you should be fine as well. I still have no idea how to deal with the school situation though but I get what you’re saying.
    Of course I like hugs! -hug-

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  14. Maximillian

    Well from one bald social worker to (potentially) another: social work is one place where being yourself is pretty much unmoderated. Go for it. I was bald at my interview and am transitioning whilst in my job. It’s s fairly understanding industry from my point of view.

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  15. Samson

    I have not got the job yet! I’m in grad school getting my licensure. I start poking around in the schools and student-teaching this year, though.

    Hugs, then! Hugs all around!

    [Reply]


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