Do tech companies care about your hair?

Overall, tech companies don’t care about your hair color or length, around 70% of women use hair-coloring products so not hiring people based on hair would drastically shrink a company's potential pool of candidates.

It is important to feel confident at your job, it means you can bring the best out of the work you deliver and be your best self. If that means having your hair a certain style, length, or color, the vast majority of modern companies aren’t going to mind.

Tech companies are notoriously relaxed with dress codes and personal appearances. Gone are the days of the stuffy suits and uniform looks pushed by employers a couple of decades ago. Although there isn’t a federal law protecting the way people look against job discrimination, there was been a huge culture shift in the workplace.

Besides software engineers and other related roles are in such high demand that companies simply can’t afford to not hire people based on their hair. However, you can run into some issues depending on the specific company or type.

Let’s explore the situations where tech employers may care about your hair and discuss what you can do to overcome these hurdles.

Girl with dyed hair

Do tech employers care about your hair?

Tech employers don’t generally care about your hair. They tend not to discriminate based on appearance and give their employees free reign. They are renowned for a relaxed dress code and working environment to help foster creativity in the workplace.

However, certain factors influence whether businesses tend to care more about hairstyles and appearance. Let’s take a close look at what can influence a company's dress code policy and the impact this has on you.

Job type

A big factor in how you are expected to dress and appear at work is the type of job you do. For customer-facing roles, such as sales, businesses tend to be stricter on appearance. Coming in with bright red hair ahead of an important client meeting may not look great.

However, if you work in product and tech where you rarely face stakeholders from outside the business, then they are highly unlikely to care about your hair at all.

Company type

The type of company you work at is the most influential factor in how you are expected to present at work. If you are applying for a tech role at a big financial institution, expectations are different from those at a startup. Finance companies are renowned for having stricter dress codes and a tidy appearance comes as part of this.

Blue hair would undoubtedly stick out more in a law firm than at a unicorn startup. Even though you’d be working in the engineering department for both, what they expect in terms of appearance is completely different. It may not stop you from getting the job but just be aware around interview time.

Do tech companies care about hair color?

Generally, tech companies don’t care about the color of your hair, with nearly 70% of women regularly dying their hair it just wouldn’t make sense for them to discriminate based on hair color. The reality is that a lot of the top tech companies have a diverse staff which means unconventional appearances are part and parcel of the workplace.

Companies like Google pride themselves on being diverse and are among the top 10% of companies for diversity. They have won multiple awards including the Best Company for Diversity and Best Company for Women in 2021. With Google being one of the major players in the tech industry it sets the tone for other companies, diversity should be seen as a strength, not a weakness.

Also, software engineering is competitive both for employers and candidates. If one company is discriminating based on your hair color and the others aren’t, then they are going to miss out on the top talent in the industry. Remember that they are employing you for your software development ability, not how you look. You want to code, not be a model.

The only exception to this is if you are going for a sales position. Even tech companies like to keep a firm grip on how they appear to their clients. First impressions are everything so management likes to control how the business is presented. It doesn’t mean that tech companies won’t employ you in a sales role with brightly colored hair, it just may be more difficult if their company policy specifies something different for their sales team.

Can software engineers have long hair?

Software engineers can have long hair and it is unlikely that you will be discriminated against for not having short hair. A lot of women have long hair, so discriminating against men with long hair just doesn’t make any sense.

The reality is that you don’t want to work for a company that tries to dictate the length of your hair. It is similar to businesses that try and control whether you can have tattoos or not. You are only at work for a portion of your day and your employer shouldn’t have control over how you present for the rest of your time.

However, it is important to present professionally at work. It doesn't mean you need to wear a three piece suit or have short groomed hair. Most tech companies don’t have that as part of their dress code anyway.

It means that you should look presentable. You can have long hair and still look great, the same for dyed hair. You never want to look scruffy or unkempt. Unfortunately, when some people complain about a business targeting their long hair, it is because they generally look a bit tatty.

So, as a software engineer you can have long hair or even no hair, just make sure you look presentable in the office. That includes your clothes as well. No ripped, old, or tatty items of clothing go a long way.

Is it OK to have dyed hair for an interview?

It is fine to have dyed hair for an interview in the majority of cases. Outside of government, finance, and legal jobs, the dress code for work tends to be relaxed. A wall street banker with bleach blonde hair wouldn’t come across nearly as well as a software engineer.

I’d urge you against dying your hair before an interview at one of the old-school establishments like a bank or law firm. Outside of those, you should be fine to have whatever hair color you like. Tech companies celebrate diversity so it's highly unlikely you’ll be the first person they have seen with red hair applying for a job.

If the color of your hair does hinder the recruitment process, consider whether that is the type of company you want to work at anyway. Controlling your appearance that stringently is probably a warning sign of the things ahead. Brightly dyed hair may raise a few eyebrows but it shouldn’t prevent you from getting the job.

As a software engineer, the interview process tends to be about:

  • Cultural Fit
  • Work experience
  • Ability to learn
  • Enthusiasm for the role

You’ll much more likely be asked about your favorite programming language, than the clothes you wear. They’ll probably touch on why you are interested in software engineering, not the reasons why you dyed your hair.

Interviews are all about highlighting your strengths and weaknesses, they should never be about your appearance. If you are worried about the impact it might have on your chances of landing a job, hold off until you have the job.

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