Sunday, July 19, 2009

A not-so trendy beard

By Greg Tarr
BLB Guest Blogger

After the Pens' impressive Stanley Cup championship run this year, even the most casual Pittsburgh sports fan is now well aware of the playoff beard. They just may not be that familiar with the layoff beard ... yet.

I'd been growing my layoff beard for about the past two weeks. I'm kicking myself for not starting it the day after. I planned on growing it a few days longer but my mom's uncle passed away Wednesday night and I have to go to the funeral home. So, time to shave. As you can see it's no great loss to society that this amazing man-beard is no longer with us.

Other than growing less than impressive facial hair I've been researching my next career move, riding along Washington County's finest roads, wrapping change and of course watching le Tour on Versus.

(Greg Tarr previously worked as a staff photographer at the Observer-Reporter in Washington, Pa. He can be reached by e-mail at


  1. Sorry, Greg, but the layoff beard idea has to be ditched. If I understand correctly, you are in a job search. A scruffy facial hair appearance might be fine for bike riding in the wilds, but not for presenting yourself as a professional.

    When do you know that you might encounter a potential employer? You are so right to take it off for a funeral. But, you would be just as right to have it gone when coming face to face with an employer. Don't count on that time to be in an HR office, under a controlled circumstance. It might happen that way. It might not happen that way. A job search is a full-time task, if you are taking it seriously. Perhaps it is more than full-time (e.g. 40 hours/week) because the network of contacts is where you are located, even when "off the clock." Networking is shown to be the most often way of getting job leads. Networking sometimes is done in a controlled setting, but not usually.

    Everybody forms a first impression when making a contact. There is no second chance for a first impression. For me, seeing somebody with a "layoff beard" does not speak well for first professional impression. In fact, I have a negative reaction to to the scruff for anybody who is in the public, claiming themselves to be a professional. Not paying attention to self-presentation says much about what that person believes about themselves (e.g. "I need this scruffy beard to be somebody that I'm really not."). I see it far too often in professional settings these days. A construction worker, a ditch digger, a shop welder, yes, these folks can make it work. But, in an office and professional setting, no -- doesn't work for me.

    It really doesn't work for hockey players either because of all the media attention. It makes them no tougher, unable to generate any more stamina, or demonstrate any greater skill.

    For the sake of your career, get out the shaver every day.

  2. I couldn't disagree more. In fact, I'm sporting my own beard right now. It is fashionable nowadays for men to wear beards, as long as its neatly trimmed. Of course, mine will be coming off when I get that first job interview (still waiting, by the way). Hopefully, it won't get too long or scruffy!

  3. You're right Roger. In fact you're so right that I'm wearing my three-piece suit as I type this response and I don't ever plan on taking it off. So I guess in your opinion men can't have beards and be professional at the same time? Ever hear of Chuck Norris?

  4. I kid, by the way Roger. Thanks for your input into the matter.

  5. I kinda think this post is being taken out of context, actually. I think Greg was trying to make a joke - a play on words, if you will - about the hockey playoffs. Now I will be breaking out the razor tomorrow before covering a local school board meeting while stringing for the Trib.

  6. The people who think facial hair in the "professional" workplace is a no-no are most likely the same ones who think people perform better if they wear a piece of cloth like a noose around their neck.

  7. I am at work with a "Batman" t-shirt on...

    But to my credit, I am wearing tuxedo pants and my "going out" thong...

  8. Mike, I think we are on the same page. The distinction is neatly trimmed beard vs. scruffy. With the picture, I think there is no question about the scruffy. No offense Greg, but you must consider it to be scruffy too, or it would not be gone for the funeral (honor and respect for the deceased is appropriate).

    I too have no problem with neatly trimmed beards. But, the trend today is the scruffy stuff I discussed earlier. Where is the scruffy style exposed? Consider: Politician, high-ranking business person (e.g. CEO, Board member, etc), lawyer before a court, a court judge, and so forth. Yes, we see some men sporting neatly trimmed beards, but none of the scruffy stuff.

    Some people can make a beard work, others not at all. Just as some men should not be in a Speedo, or a woman should not be in a short skirt, so too some men are not candidates for a beard. Knowing the difference is the important thing. Just being unshaven does not a beard make.

    Just because the scruffy look is trendy today does not make it worthwhile. Sloppy dress is also trendy, and it is not worthwhile. Do some people watching at the local mall. Many (most?) people look like slobs! What does that say about their self-respect, their dignity, their self-confidence?