If a candidate is very hairy on the chest and back, should they just shave right down every day to below their collar line?

Recruiting Animal

This question actually came up on last week's radio show with a hilarious response by guest recruiter Joshua Letourneau...check out my music list for the audio clip, provided for your listening pleasure courtesy of the host himself. Thanks, Animal!

Dear Recruiting Animal,

This is an interesting question because one person’s preference is another person’s turn-off, and personal hygiene is -- well, personal. I'm glad you brought it up, though.

I used to think that hair had nothing to do with hiring decisions, until I had a candidate whose toupee slid down the back of his neck in the final interview due to excessive sweating. He did not get the job offer. Neither did the candidate who shaved and waxed his head until it was shiny, because the hiring manager had a distinct bias against bald men (something to do with a messy divorce, I later discovered). Chemistry is funny that way.

But before you begin stocking disposable razors in your bottom desk drawer, take a moment to look at the bigger picture of the match you are trying to make. How diverse is the environment you want to place the candidate in? Is it a more casual or formal dress code? Is the hiring manager a stickler for details, or more strategic in focus? These can give you some hints about whether or not you're proposing a good match.

On the candidate side, this is another time to watch carefully for trends of similar behavior. Are teeth unbrushed? Does clothing look stained or slept in? Is there a pervasive odor from all of that hair? People grow long hair for lots of reasons (self-expression, medical conditions, forgetfulness, laziness)...regardless, we're not talking about hair growth here, but one’s personal choice to keep it under control.

A good rule of thumb for personal appearance is that if a problem can be fixed easily (like spinach in your teeth, or hair that can be trimmed), you mention it to the person. And if it can't, you leave it alone. If you absolutely must have The Chat with a candidate about personal hygiene, here's a tip: be direct, and be respectful. The classic outline for an intervention goes something like this:

This is what I see. You've got a lot of body hair.

This is how it makes me feel. I'm concerned that this will draw more negative than positive attention to you in the competition for this job.

This is what I want. It's my job to present you with opportunities for which you can be a top contender. I know this employer pretty well, and recommend that you keep your hair trimmed below the collar and wrist lines if you'd like to be considered seriously.

And here are the consequences if you choose differently. Of course, it's up to you to trim or not. If it's important to you to keep the body hair, then maybe this isn't the right opportunity for you. Let's move on and look for something in a more diverse environment where the hair won't be a distraction.

And if pervasive odor is part of the problem, you might consider having the conversation over the phone.

Got a question you'd like answered in this weekly forum? Submit it here.

Views: 290

Comment by Recruiting Animal on April 16, 2008 at 11:00pm
@Rayanne. No but maybe your underarms
Comment by Steve Levy on April 17, 2008 at 3:34pm
Animal, I'm coming up to Toronto with a new package of triple edge razors.... I'm not kidding.
Comment by Recruiting Animal on April 17, 2008 at 3:39pm
Give 'em to Rayanne. She needs some coaxing not to go the mannish on the legs.
Comment by Recruiting Animal on April 17, 2008 at 5:29pm
Rayette, do you want to come on the Recruiting Animal Show on Wednesday to tackle the issue of body hair on recruiters? Shannon Underhill and others have accused me of being soft on the guests but but I have to warn you that I believe my show to be the hardest hitting hot seat in the world of recruiting radio. (I just lost my scheduled guest). You can reach me at
Comment by Joshua Letourneau on April 17, 2008 at 5:42pm
I know some women that actually do squats & lunges in the gym . . . and trust me that nobody is worrying about leg hair :P
Comment by Joshua Letourneau on April 17, 2008 at 6:00pm
Well, I'm pretty sure! I'm not saying lifting heavy weight . . . I just mean working legs instead of only walking on the treadmill for an hour :) If they're not women, I think I may need some therapy!
Comment by Steve Levy on April 17, 2008 at 7:35pm
Animal, you seem to be intimate with the follicle level of Rayane's armpits and legs; talk about being a relationship recruiter...
Comment by Steve Levy on April 17, 2008 at 9:04pm
As one can see, I have managed to transcend this level - at least from the neck up...
Comment by Recruiting Animal on April 18, 2008 at 12:23pm
Vin, you know what they say about learning a language. Recruiting is networking, networking is communication and communication depends on the language of recruiting.


You need to be a member of RecruitingBlogs to add comments!

Join RecruitingBlogs


All the recruiting news you see here, delivered straight to your inbox.

Just enter your e-mail address below


RecruitingBlogs on Twitter

© 2023   All Rights Reserved   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Privacy Policy  |  Terms of Service