I know this may sound absurd, but I feel like it's definitely a legitimate question...

To preface - I'm currently looking for full-time employment as a software developer, and I've progressed past the grueling phone/technical interviews with a handful of companies that want me to come in for in-person interviews next week. Most of these companies are laid-back tech firms in the SF Bay Area - not IBM in the 70's - but I still find it's best to come to an interview well-dressed and clean cut (even when some of the employees have nose rings and tattoos). I typically like to grow a beard, and also shave my head (I started losing my hair a couple years ago in college), but neither of these are a recommended look for an in-person interview. So I've been shaving my face and letting my hair grow out. No matter how ridiculous I feel, it's totally worth it for me because these are some of my dream jobs.

My question is essentially this: if I am offered a position with one of these companies, and I accept, how long should I wait after I start to begin growing a beard and shaving my head again? In my experience it's never a good sign when a new employee comes in appearing to be a completely different person on their first day, opposed to who they appeared to be when they were when offered the job. I'm sure most everyone has experienced what I'm talking about to some degree. Someone that seemed like they'd be a great hire, but once they started it was apparent they were only there to collect a paycheck. I just don't want to come across that way - I truly am seeking employment for much deeper reasons than pay...programming is my passion.

I would just like to hear some people's recommendation as to what a professional standard would be for a situation like this. I appreciate any advice!

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    Honestly, if you feel uncomfortable dressing/grooming a certain way to get a job, and that's how you intent to dress/groom after getting it - you should just come as yourself, but dress up just a nodge, but no more. – cbll Feb 5 '17 at 19:24
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    Possible duplicate of How to dress if there is no dress code? – mcknz Feb 5 '17 at 19:43
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    @mcknz - I'm asking a completely different question. I'm not asking how I should dress for an interview, I'm asking when it's appropriate to start personalizing your appearance AFTER accepting a position - in ways that aren't considered appropriate for a professional interview. – Pierce Feb 5 '17 at 19:50
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    @Pierce the linked question asks a similar question (how to dress after working for two months), and the answers to that question could apply here. Your question is definitely not absurd but I'm not sure it can be objectively answered -- it's going to be a matter of opinion. – mcknz Feb 5 '17 at 19:57
  • @mcknz - that's a good point, and I appreciate your input/recommendation. – Pierce Feb 5 '17 at 22:15

The best way to go about this is to view how your new colleagues present themselves in the office you're in. For example you don't really want to do something that stands out and draws attention to yourself that may be in a negative way.

I'd also check the companies dress policy if it has one as this usually states whether you can or can not dress/present yourself in a certain way.

If the above two points do not work I'd ask your line manager directly. They will be able to answer this question directly. This will give you the confidence you need in order to portray yourself in a positive way.

Remember do not make assumptions on this sort of thing as you are new to the organisation. Always seek advice from colleagues or management and remove emotion if you are told you can't dress in the way you want.

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  • "The best way to go about this is to view how your new colleagues present themselves in the office you're in." -Not always sound advice, unless you look towards the most successful colleague, and dress like them. – Donald Feb 6 '17 at 4:01
  • @Ramhound as he is new he would be unaware of who is classed as 'successful' hence why I said he should take a general census of the colleagues around him in order not to stand out from them. – Kyle Brown Feb 6 '17 at 9:27

For software development in the SF Bay Area, there is the unwritten rule of come to the in-person interview dressed in your normal day-to-day attire. I tend to ignore the advice to wear your normal attire and dress up a little more. For instance, I favor button down shirts, dark slacks/jeans and dark dress shoes. For years, I have interviewed with a beard for both software development and management positions, and I have not had an issue getting job offers.

When you start to work, I recommend tailoring your attire to:

  • Company requirements - I work at a startup in the SF Bay Area and we do not have one
  • Norms within others in your role or organization - I went from a software engineer role to a business one. I changed my attire based on norms within my group and the fact that I am now customer facing with business groups all over the world. I still sport a beard, but it's neatly trimmed. I trade my t-shirt for a button-down or a polo most days.
  • What you are comfortable with - Ultimately you should be happy with your attire. Shaving your head and growing a beard is fairly prevalent to where I would not be too concerned with doing it even at the interview stage.
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  • Thank you for sharing your relevant experience! It's quite helpful. – Pierce Feb 5 '17 at 22:17

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