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?



  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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