I started work a month ago, and i was wondering if it was professional if I started sporting a 5 o'clock shadow.

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    Is this question what you are looking for?
    – enderland
    Nov 26, 2014 at 3:47
  • @enderland not so much a beard, but a shadow- (not sure if there's much difference though)
    – Nick
    Nov 26, 2014 at 3:51
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    There's a lot of difference. A well-groomed beard is acceptable in many places the scruffy look is not, even if the latter is currently considered acceptable socially. Beard or cleanshaven is clearly deliberate; shadow is questionable.
    – keshlam
    Nov 26, 2014 at 5:38
  • There are no general rules. It's compmany specific. Find a company that matches your values - which seem to be individuality rather than conforming and strict everything.
    – James
    Nov 26, 2014 at 9:22
  • usually "i just came out of winter sleep" look should be avoided.but sporting a beard is not an issue.
    – amar
    Nov 26, 2014 at 9:53

2 Answers 2


Depends on your company's practices/preferences, and depends on your role in the company.

You can generally get away with more if you aren't dealing directly with customers or suppliers, or if you're officially in the Research division (where it's generally assumed half the staff is happily and productively insane, or at least are academic weirdos).

If you are working with customers, you want to aim for being someone they're comfortable with. If you're selling to executives, you want to look like an executive; if you're dealing only with techies you still want to look like someone they can trust technically. (Old not-quite-a-joke: There was a time when you could recognize an IBM repair technician by the fact that, when he took off his navy sports coat, his sleeves were already rolled up.)

As far as advice goes: Look around the office. If the look you want to sport is common among respected people with the same sort of responsibilities you have, you can probably get away with it. If you'd be the only one, probably not. If in any doubt, you can ask your manager whether this would be considered acceptable "business casual" or not; guidance regarding company culture is one of the things managers are for.

  • I work in the backend line of a bank, however my colleagues are mostly clean shaven so I was quite unsure hence the question-
    – Nick
    Nov 26, 2014 at 3:43
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    Banks tend to be conservative. As I said: if in doubt, ask your employer, not us.
    – keshlam
    Nov 26, 2014 at 3:46
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    +1 for generally assumed half the staff is happily and productively insane, or at least are academic weirdos
    – akton
    Nov 26, 2014 at 5:34
  • I've been in Research myself. Wish I still was; letting myself be pried out was a mistake.
    – keshlam
    Nov 26, 2014 at 5:35

The simple answer (especially as you work for a bank) is check your hr policy for dress code, it will have something to say on it.

But I will also suggest against it for the following reason:

A couple of years ago I was interviewing for developers at the insurance company I worked for. One guy came in, good cv, good suit, George Michael shadow. My immediate impression was someone who couldn't judge a situation well (a corporate in insurance is likely to be traditional at interview), and that set the tone, and he was out of the running from first second.

I thought later about why someone wouldn't have realised and then it hit me, he worked for a digital agency, likely dress down at work. He had dressed up in every way he could given he was returning to work after the interview (it was an early morning interview). Having a shave would have been obvious to his co-workers as going to an interview (of course I could be wrong and he just didn't get it, but he seemed smart enough otherwise).

So middle of the road is always good, easier to disguise if you need to.

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    So you simply struck him off since he didn't have a clean look-? wow first impressions are really important
    – Nick
    Nov 26, 2014 at 9:28
  • No didn't strike him off, but he made the wrong immediate impression, and was never able to recover from that. They say you make your decision in the first 10 secs, and I've only had a couple of cases in 20 years where a hire has turned out majorly different to the initial impression. Nov 26, 2014 at 9:34
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    So, looks are more important than actual skills? No wonder my online bank is often suffering from technical problems... Nov 26, 2014 at 12:10
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    It's not about looks (I deliberately didn't mention the tintin hairstyle he also had), some places expect a professional image. The role would have required interaction with, amongst others, the MD of the business area. He WOULD have an issue with the way the guy looks, so I was having to justify the hire in my head rather than just concentrating on skills, team fit etc. Like it or not it happens, places like Google do the same, just in reverse (why are you wearing a suit?) Nov 26, 2014 at 13:14

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