You’ll never get promoted with that beard: 17 things your career counsellor didn’t tell you

By Colleen Clarke

You'll never get promoted with that beardHere are some of the key pieces of information I’ve learned over the years that are most often overlooked (or wilfully ignored) by career advisors:

    1. Expect not to have your phone calls returned. Construct a polite but confident voice mail message that will entice recruiters, HR professionals and hiring managers to return your calls. Once you leave a message with your phone number you really shouldn’t call back. Try not leaving a message if you want to call multiple times so you can reach the contact in person.

    2. Setting up advice calls, cold calling and trying to reach decision makers is a numbers game. They say it takes 39 no’s to make a yes. Always anticipate a yes but know that as a rule it is volume that reaps rewards.

    3. Friends may stop inviting you out to the theatre or to restaurants if they think you are financially strapped. Let people know your social capabilities and invite others out so they know you are still active.

    4. Recruiters do not always read cover letters, so don’t spend much time crafting them. Keep the message short and include whether you are willing to relocate and your salary range.

    5. The job of the Human Resource person in a company is usually to screen you out. Don’t discount the power of the screener as they have a huge influence over the decision maker. Be prepared and professional at all times.

    6. Help the reader of your resume out by citing an Objective and a Profile or Highlights of Qualifications. If the resume reader likes what they read in the Profile they will read the rest of the resume.

    7. Look great when you arrive for an interview, shine your shoes, have an up-to-date haircut, put a spring in your step, a smile on your face and get rid of hair in unattractive places.

    8. The more senior position you hold the less facial hair you should sport. If you look at pictures of Boards of Directors very few executives have moustaches or beards.

    9. The receptionist at a company is your first person of contact. They are often asked their impression of you when you interacted with them upon your arrival. Treat them like your new best friend.

    10. If you are called to do a telephone interview on the spot, ask if you can call them back in 10 minutes so you can free up your time and be in a quiet place.

    11. After the initial greeting in an interview, ask for a detailed written or verbal job description so you have the same concept of the position you are interviewing for as the interviewer.

    12. Every question you are asked in an interview has a purpose and is asked so as to uncover a skill or strength that will solve a problem within the position. Try to understand why they would want to know that before you set out answering the question.

    13. Potential employers like to know how you would fix their problems. After explaining your accomplishment on a certain skill, relate it back to an obvious problem or challenge that position possesses.

    14. Potential employers like to know you can think outside the box, you have a creative mind and have put some thought into their individual company’s position in the marketplace. For a second interview draft a 30/60/90 day outline of what you would anticipate doing in the job for those time lines.

    15. Always ask “Where do we go from here?” as the end of every interview. For your peace of mind it’s nice to know what the interviewer’s plans are moving forward.

    16. If at the end of an interview they tell you they will get back to you in x days, ask them if you don’t hear from them can you please call them. Ascertain whether they prefer email or a phone call for their favoured correspondence.

    17. Send a postcard , thank you card or a nice typed letter of thanks after each advice call or interview. Cards sit out on desks, letters get filed.

The list goes on and on. I’d love to hear from you if you have an incident to share that you were unprepared for because someone failed to enlighten you about some aspect of your job search. Ultimately it is each person’s responsibility to read books, attend networking meetings and talk to other work searchers to pick up tips that make your search easier and your interviews shine.

Colleen Clarke
Career Specialist and Corporate Trainer
Author of Networking: How To Build Relationships That Count, and How To Get a Job and Keep It

20 Responses to “You’ll never get promoted with that beard: 17 things your career counsellor didn’t tell you”

  1. Michael says:

    Great tips, time to shave the beard.

  2. Andrew says:

    “10. If you are called to do a telephone interview on the spot, ask if you can call them back in 10 minutes so you can free up your time and be in a quiet place.”

    Even better, screen your calls using voice mail with a professional greeting. Set up a time to call them if you have the option. That way, you will never be caught off guard, and always be prepared when you are in touch with potential employers.

  3. Dean says:

    As much as I am being interviewed; I am interviewing the employer; To get a feel for their corporate culture. If they don’t know what corpotate culture is; the interview is; it’s time to move on. These are “Going no where” jobs.

  4. Jill says:

    I have to disagree with #4. I was told by a previous employer that they had decided to hire me based solely on my cover letter – they didn’t even get to the resume.

  5. Julie says:

    I knew someone who was getting pretty depressed about his job search. One day, he asked me what I thought of his covers letters and his resume.
    Then I asked him why he didn’t use the same fonts for both documents.
    Two weeks lafter, he was called in for an interview.

    Fonts are a detail, really, but many employers will have doubts about a candidate that does not pay attention to such details…

  6. Garry S says:

    The written of this article is obviously a White Anglo Saxon protestant. The reason that you do not see people with facial hair ( point 8) ( religious Jews , Sikhs or similar) in Senior positions is because North American business tends to be highly predictable its marginalization of other groups. Go to Israel and you will see many beards in high tech and other highly technical fields. Ask yourself why is this and why is Israel the number two worldwide in venture capital sites and Canada does even come close. The writer of this article rely’s on old prejudiced for some cheap shots! Countries and corporations who think this way will remain choppers of wood and miners of gold and uranium. Other than the above I found the information in this article to be common sense that most people at senior positions have already sewn into their portfolios.
    Gentlemen time to update your outdated advisors.


  7. Alex says:

    Never had to shave my beard. Worked for me so far. The interviewer also had a beard.

  8. Ang says:

    This is an outrageously pathetic article. It really hit me and I had to respond back.

    Excuse me? What does this demonstrate? Being an effeminate clean shaven guy gets you better jobs? Being a Muslim or a Sikh with a beard, a real man who is not shy of his facial hair is bad for business?

    This is nothing but a culturally outrageous and demented attempt. This article should be taken down period.

    I have a beard and I have never had a bad interview thank God. Every offer I have thankfully resjected vs being rejected although in the beginning there were few when I was inexperienced that did not fare in my favour. That being said, if you believe the worth of a person is based on their ‘weight’ or having a beard…. you guys need to do some of your own HR check ups and ‘restructuring’.


  9. Ari says:

    During one of my first interviews for a summer job during school I walked in to find a prewritten test waiting for me. Be prepared and do some background reading/studying

  10. Chakravarthy says:

    Good Tips. Is it time to shave the moustache and probably the front and middle part of the head as well?

  11. kevin says:

    I think your best to take the phone interview on the spot? I,ve tryed the call back any never had the second chance. the interviewer has to many other canidates in front of them to call.
    In my case they probably just said,NEXT?

  12. Samantha says:

    I doubt about p.11 “11. After the initial greeting in an interview, ask for a detailed written or verbal job description so you have the same concept of the position you are interviewing for as the interviewer.”
    If I ask about description – it means maybe I don’t know the description, which I was supposed to clarify through a website or HR. It might be awkward.

  13. David says:

    First, I agree with those who say toast the no-beard tip.

    Second, another tip: Be prepared for inappropriate questions, even aside from the obvious ones (religion, age, marital status etc). One interviewer asked me how long I’d been looking for work and whether I’d gotten any offers. The correct answer would have been that I did not feel comfortable answering those questions.

  14. Carlos says:

    Easy people, workopolis is focused on jobs in North America. No jobs in India or Israel. The writer is just telling it as is, he is not the one making the rules. If you want to take it good, if not that’s cool too. In my company there are guys with mustaches and beards, but when you see the guys in important positions the majority of them do not have facial hair. I know if I want to move up the ladder in my company, I have to play the game and It’s up to me if I want to do it or not. By the way I am not White Anglo Saxon Protestant, I am from a minority group. I know that some things are not fair, but it is in my best interest to understand how things work so I can come with a game plan of what to do.

  15. Eryx says:

    You have to remember, career counselors make their money giving you advice that you’re not already following in your career or job hunt. If you’re already doing many of the right things, they have to come up with other so-called ‘advice’ or they aren’t going to hold onto many clients. This creates a situation where there’s a conflict of interest.

    The recommendations above are very cultural-centric and don’t take into account the diversity of culture that one may encounter in the real world. Its always safest to take any advice with the proverbial ‘grain of salt’.

    In today’s world, the average person is well connected to large amounts of valuable information on the Internet to help them in their job hunt and career, without paying someone who may or may not be giving you sound advice. Do your homework there first. Then if you feel you still need a career counselor, its your money. Just watch out for that conflict of interest.

  16. Manu says:

    Its disheartening to know that being a Sikh in canada …you cannot go up the ladder…I hope the thought process changes soon and having facial hair shudnt be a problem Request to the career counsellers…what way a beard guy go up the ladder …please discuss options for us….thanks

  17. Corey says:

    I have been told not use an objective line in resume as companies are more interested in qualifications for the job first.

  18. Redge says:

    I agree with the points presented here. Sticking to principles or compromising is a matter of personal choice. Employers are primarily interested in top notch talent. All things being equal, it can be the small things that make a big difference.

  19. Ray Sandine says:

    Great site. Keep it up.

  20. James says:

    I don’t know why the interview is relied on so much. The test and retest reliability is extremely low. It is one of the worst tools for employers to use to select a candidate. However, since it is still used so much my advice is for candidates (if they can afford it) is to take some acting lessons. This will be extremely helpful during the interview when one is presenting themselves. I have a niece that has done this and she is extremely good (one of the best) when being interviewed.


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