18 Year Old, the Job Hunt, and Hair Length

Updated on October 01, 2010
K.D. asks from Cary, NC
15 answers

My 18 year old son has graduated from high school. He is taking a class at a Tech school but also wants a job. He has been looking ever since he graduated and hasn't had any luck. We have learned that it is mostly online applying nowadays. He has applied at fast food places, discount stores, drugstores, grocery stores, electronics stores, and video game stores. His only prior experience is volunteering at the SPCA for his high school internship and busing tables in the summer for his church at the fair. The only interview he got was with a major discount store and we were so disappointed when he didn't get the job. My main question is - do you think that his long hair, even though he put it in a neat ponytail for the interview, could have been one reason he didn't get the job? Any advice on the job hunt is welcome. We have been told that it is good to call the store a few days after submitting the online application, so we have started trying to do that. I also saw that he had an awful screenshot for his facebook picture and had him take that down, because we know hiring managers google people's names nowadays. Should he also stop by in person a few days after submitting an application? Should I do practice interviews with him to brush up his interviewing skills? I did kind of do that over the phone with him before his discount store interview.

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So What Happened?

Thanks for the advice so far, keep it coming. As to why he hasn't applied for a job before now - he struggled throughout school and so we thought his focus should be on passing his classes and graduating from high school.

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answers from Knoxville on

Appearance is very important and you only get one chance to make a first impression. I would do the follow up after the application is submitted. You do not mention if he wears facial hair but if he does and it needs to be neat and trimmed. If he is applying at retail stores look around at other employees, that will tell you about the look they prefer. Like wise if he has tattoos, they may need to be covered.. Good Luck!

1 mom found this helpful

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answers from Huntington on

I am a Human Resources professional so I hire people for a living. As a general rule, I don't think people are looked down upon because of having long hair. I will say that people with gaudy tatoos and facial piercings will find themselves disadvantaged because many of the people selecting jobs (ie, slightly older people), don't tend to view this as favorable. He needs to look clean and well dressed. Khakis and a button up shirt should be fine for the jobs he's looking for.

Please do not have him stop by after the interview. I hate to say it, but it can have the oposite affect. I am busy all day and to be frank, this is an interruption. I often get 50 applications for one entry level job. Ask for a business card and send a note, either written or email. if you mail it, send it immediately, so it arrives 1-2 days after the interview. All you need to say is thank you and express again how interested you are in the position.

Unfortunately many teens don't present well because of a perceived lack of social skills. Tell him to put the phone away...don't text in the lobby. Make eye contact. Smile, don't slouch. Don't mumble.

Have him think of a few examples for the interview. Even if he is not asked directly for them, if he can TELL how he has addressed something in the past, then it makes the interview more memorable. Experience does not have to be paid...think of leadership in extra curricular activities, at church, etc. Here are some good things to prep for.
* Time he took the lead on something (boyscouts, school project, etc.)
* A Time he made a bad situation better

Facebook is touchy. Some people look and some don't. Most decent employers do not write people off for expressing individuality, but when someone posts "so wasted last night", it can be hard to ignore.

Good luck!!!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from San Diego on

I remember (a long time ago) when I was 18 and looking for a job. I applied to several places including a bank for a bank teller's position and I soon realized that I wasn't getting the jobs. I had a good attitude for the job, but apparently I didn't interview well. My parents starting working with me on interview skills and it helped so the next time I applied for a bank tellers position I got the job. I remember that I asked questions about the job (showing my interest), talked about what I did before and why I was looking for a job now (going to college at night in my case). Eye contact is important and smiling is too. Watch out for those where do you see yourself in 5 years questions (do they still ask that?) and what would you do if questions. Interview skills are important and depending on the work location appearance is too. In this job market, when so many people are vying for any job any extra edge does help. Good luck to your son!
P.S. One more thing ... thank you cards. It leaves a nice touch when an interview candidate follows up with a nice thank you card (depends on the job for example at a fast food place I wouldn't do it but at larger stores where there is a lot of competition).

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answers from New London on

Yes, first impressions are so important. If two candidates came in about the same age, same experience, I would totally hire the one with professional hair and not the ponytail long hair. Ug, I know it is a personal choice, but someone who takes the time to have a hair cut is taken more seriously. Long hair has a stigma to it. Either pot head, laid back, unprofessional, doesn't take time to groom, etc. It is just one that an employer will look for. They want someone to represent the company. They also will look at the cover letter. Make sure it is written in such a way that is serious without going over the top, meaning, not written by a parent, but represents himself. No spelling errors, etc. What did he wear to the interview? How does he represent himself? Is he friendly and outgoing or introverted? Does he look down during the interview? Sometimes employers are looking for a nice, clean cut kid. And they do often times check facebook, myspace, etc.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from McAllen on

Well, as an employer myself I do look at how applicants present themselves, I do have a problem with long hair, only because in our line of work may be a hazard. I google every applicant and look at their facebook or social websites. There are 3 questions that to me are the most important during the interview.
3 strenghts and 3 weaknesses he has
Why should I hire him
What will he bring to the company
a couple other tips is to be natural, to answer honestly rather than what he thinks the employer is going to want to hear.
Also its important that he realizes that the job marked is not at its best and he needs to be patient. Has he given any thought at call centers? as far as I know those are always hiring.

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answers from New York on

Birds of a feather flock together. See who is already working at a particular store, do they look similar to your son. What is the culture at the company? If you only see short haired men, then there is your answer. The job market is tough right now. So it may take him a long time to find something and to be in competition against someone with short hair who do you think will get the job in that company culture.

On line there are various web sites with advice on interviewing skills. You are a great mom but you really need to begin to let your son grow up in this area. You can help but don't handicap him. In my family we go through interviewing and job seeking before they turn 18. At 18, the kids are equipped with everything they need for personal success if they just apply themselves.

He may also check with his Tech school of intership opportunites or even volunteer at the school so he can enhance his resume. If I were him I would look for a job similar to the direction of my future.

I hope this helps.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

I don't really think that the long hair has a huge impact on getting an entry level job or not. It may turn off some interviewers and parting from the long hair may take that potential barrier down. If he feels strongly about keeping his long hair, I wouldn't worry too much about it. More important is probably that it's in a ponytail, that the hair looks clean and that he has a decent cut, but even more that he is dressed well and that the clothes are pressed and neat and that they fit well. You don't want him to look like he is "dressed up" wearing dad's clothes for the job interview.
Also, you could practice interview skills with him, ask him potential questions, etc. and make sure that he comes across confident and that he has good answers to any potential questions. I think a confident looking and sounding person will get a job regardless of hair length.
Libraries and community colleges often have seminars for job seekers which may be useful for him.
But also remember that it is really tough right now and that there are many applicants for any given job. It may take some time until he finds something. Remind him of that, just so that he doesn't get discouraged.
Good luck with the job search.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Eau Claire on

Well my advice is do practice interviews, that always helped me. The hair could be another issue, but for now leave it be. It was a good idea to take the bad picture down from facebook. He should call a few days after submiting an application and stop into the store and they can give him more information on how or who to contact about an interview.

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answers from Dallas on

Appearance could be part of it. He also needs to try be self assured and friendly. How often is he following up on his applications? My son went through this and the only time he really ever got considered were for those jobs where he made an effort to follow up. If he goes in person to fill out an application - he should ask to speak with the manager if possible and call back later. If he fills one out online, he should follow up in a couple days by going in. It is harder right now for any type of job, so he will have to find a way to make himself stand out. If he has friends with jobs, that can be a great way to get in the door somewhere too. Tell him to hang in there, he will find one if he keeps trying.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Madison on

In addition to the great advice you were already given, another idea: your son may consider calling the person who did not hire him after interview, and very politely ask what they would recommend to improve his future job interviews with other places.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

First, immediately have him put a privacy lock down on his Facebook page. Call me crazy, but I've read quite a bit about online privacy and I want my online life to be visible to me and my selected friends ONLY. Never would I want the general public -- including current or future employers -- to be able to see what I'm up to online. There is actually a feature where you can end public exposure on FB.

Second, I always follow up with a thank you note after every interview. In it, I highlight why I would be a great addition to the organization and I thank them for their time that they spent with me.

Third, absolutely do practice interviews with him. Go online and google interview questions and go from there. Nothing is worse than being hit with a question that you've really given no thought to previously.

Fourth, the hair length really depends on the type of work he's seeking. Maybe if he scopes out the other employees at the desired work place first he can get an idea of what is acceptable in terms of attire and hair.

And good luck. This is a terrible job market right now and I've read that it is especially difficult for the newly-graduated.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Santa Barbara on

There is so much competition for the kids these days he needs to do action items to set him apart from the other hundreds of kids submitting online. Visit the locations once per week and talk with the hiring manager. Call and have him check in and ask for interviews. He needs to sell himself. The long hair could be an issue in some places (not so much out here). It may not seem fair but the long hair style might not be acceptable to the company. Good luck to your son!

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answers from Austin on

In regards to his resume, be sure to add something like this:

name of school..............expected date of graduation
*coursework in: list relevant coursework

Everyone else had really good advice about the other items. Just as a warning - it's no longer safe just to have your facebook profile lockdown. Many companies will require you to provide access to your FB account on the application. Not only will they look at what you have posted but also who your friends are and what they have posted. To be safer, never mention work/career related information online - PERIOD. Yes, you might think it's a privacy issue and that companies have no right, but since the legislation hasn't caught up with technology, as of today, you might be cut from possible employment if you don't provide that information. Good Luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Rochester on

I know a lot of adult males with long hair, some I can't even picture without long hair, and yes, this includes college professors, professionals in general, laborers, food service people, and musicians. :) Just keep it clean and pulled back.

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answers from Washington DC on

Kids have long hair. A long as it's neat and washed then it should be fine. It should be always in a pony tail when interviewing. It might help his chances if he cut it, but it really is his decision.
I would have mine cut it before the job interviews then grow it back after he gets the job.
Yes, yes, yes practice his interviewing skills and selling himself skills. You do not need to ask potential employers why thye didn't hire him. THey can't tell you anyway, he's an adult. So let him ask those kinds of questions.
Make sure the fb is only positive and if the other kids are writing slang and cuss words on it then have him take it down.

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