Day 280: Beard or No Beard?

I need some input on physical appearance in the context of academic job interviews, videlicet (I guess in the US you say viz) facial hair. I am contemplating shaving off my beard. What began as an exercise in laziness now has taken on experimental forms and I do want to see how long I can grow it. However, I am getting mixed reactions on my beard (including from myself). I personally find it rather annoying, except for the times I go running by the lake (makes my face warmer, which is important when running in Chicago) and when I want to be cozy (old jeans, flannel shirts, a book and, well, my beard as face blanket). Then, I heard that beards are all the rage for Hipsters at the moment (guess I haven’t been over in Wicker Park in a while). Some of my students told me they liked it, but then those students also live in Wicker Park. At the conference this weekend, someone told me that I looked like an 18th century German thinker with the beard while giving my talk, which, I believe, is in the US still an insult (regarding the difficulty of Hegel’s Phenomenology and such–which was technically published in 1807–but I think the remark was intended to go into the Hegelian/Marxian, hence 19th century, rather than into a Kantian, direction–actually, I have no idea, if Kant had spectacular facial hair at some point). So: I cannot really decide and figured I would make my decision contingent upon the job market.

Should I get some interviews, I wonder if beardless, or very beardfull would be the better way to go. Do schools want young and fresh (i.e. cleanly shaven), or serious and contemplative (i.e. bushy bearded). I guess it depends on the school–for some traditional programs I should probably add a pipe to the beard and for other schools I should shave and show off some of my tattoos (well, actually that may not be the case except for two schools I am applying to that do VERY non-traditional stuff).

So, I may just defer to the majority. Any suggestions: beard or no beard for the job market?

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7 Comments

  1. are there any pics to be found anywhere so that one can compare? e.g. facebook.

    I’d always go for NO BEARD. beards are such a turn-off.

  2. lovely, this ist exactly the kind of superficial nonsense discussion iI was in need of to distract myself from case studies a la ’72-year-old man with a history of peripheral vascular disease and recurrent chest pain presents with….’
    so, on to the important stuff: it’s a little hard to imagine what you look like with a beard, but I seem to recall that you were able to pull off a goaty pretty well. however, you have a nice face so you might as well show it and – more importantly – employers like being able to see (and judge…) a possible future employees face: it creates an illusion of trustworthiness…no hair behind which to hide inappropriate thoughts (e.g. about the employer)! so i would say: no beard until you’ve got the job.

  3. I can’t believe my beard went from “18th century German thinker” to “turnoff” and “superficial nonsense” in only a matter of days. Now there are at least two men with chest pain.
    🙂
    Despite my pain, I shall be putting up some pictures on facebook in the near future. However, I have the feeling I will have to shave soon. Too bad–at last people had started to take me seriously (especially in class stroking my beard/chin while lecturing provided my claims with an added note of gravitas). Also, how will I ever get my dream job as an Aleutian fisherman without a beard?

  4. i sincerely hope your chest pain is of a different sort than my patient’s – especially at your tender age his pain in you would worry me deeply…
    at any rate, there was more of the ‘nice’ than of the ‘rude’ in my message – and i would think twice before putting a picture up on the net – never seems a good idea somehow…i would be weary of even just using my own name on the net, not to mention putting a picture up (am i too paranoid?). or is ‘facebook’ some sort of limited access page? sorry, i apparently don’t spend enough time on the net, i never know these things, didn’t know what a blog was either before i came across this one (embarassing, i know!).

  5. Go without the beard.

  6. There are only two situations in which a beard is acceptable:
    _you have very sensitive skin and can’t shave that often (in which case the ‘beard’ should not grow beyond the half inch of stubbles)
    _you are slightly obese and don’t like the sight of your neck bulging out below your chin (that’s when a full beard is recommend)

    For all other situations: Shave off that fuzz!

  7. Since you asked..first impressions are important, and reactions to a beard are always raising questions, while clean-shaven is the norm, not an issue.

    If you have rare skills, keep the beard. If not, lose it and later pry for reactions to a re-beard. I haven’t had a beard since my 20’s, and don’t really miss it. Nor long hair. They both make me look older, anyway.


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