WORK-LIFE BALANCE / OCT. 23, 2013
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Movember - To Mow or Not to Mow?

In a few days time, all over the world, normally clean-shaven men start doing something that they wouldn’t normally do, and which hasn’t been fashionable since Burt Reynolds and the 1970s – ‘grow a Mow’ – a moustache.

It’s arrival is no coincidence. It arrives to support charitable movement, Movember, which was first launched in 2004, to raise awareness of men’s health issues. Its aim is simple – men must stop trimming their bristles for the whole of November to raise money for the charity.

In the early days Movember had very little profile, and very niche participation. Fast forward to today though, and modern social media means the event has gathered almost as much a life of its own as the slugs on people’s upper lips.

The Movember Foundation has so-far raised nearly $200 million worldwide, and last year’s event was the one that broke all records: In 2012, it is thought that more 1.1 million people in America alone signed up to participate, raising upwards of $95 million.

But here’s the rub...

What do you do if you’ve signed up to raise money for the charity, but also have a job interview in the month of November?

Do you wear the mow, risking being seen as a non-serious candidate; do you wear it because it gives you something to talk about, and it shows that you care for different world issues? Or do you comply with long-standing interview etiquette, and get rid of it completely?

Already Movember is not without controversy. A few years ago moustache-sporting grads were banned from their graduation in New Zealand. But really, can you (and should you) be judged by the presence of facial hair?

Certainly, many employers still judge a book by its cover. Most not only regulate against too much hair, but some actually ban it – including sporting giants, The New York Yankees. Research also repeatedly finds that employers and customers find facial hair unprofessional.

So, what should you do? Clearly, you need to take a view, and consider how you will be seen – fairly or not.

Ask yourself: Do you have the personality to carry it off or will it make you look untrustworthy? Remember, most recruiters will unwittingly judge you within your first few seconds of seeing them – often even before you speak. Charlie Chaplin – perhaps the world’s famous moustache-wearer (after Hitler!) once claimed he only grew it because having one looked more comical. It’s no surprise it was followed by slapstick film star Oliver Hardy.

There is some good news though. If you have all the qualifications, and are sufficiently erudite, having a moustache shouldn’t be a game-stopper. But, remember that it’s your potential career on the line.

And, don’t forget, there is one situation you could always find yourself in that is in your favour. As one writer for the FT recently wrote: “The best-case scenario is that all my mustachioed colleagues score their coveted job interviews and find themselves sitting across the table from a mustachioed recruiter too.”

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