Pink Hair & Green Money
May 22, 2009 2:21 PM   Subscribe

If potential employees find my Flickr page and find out I have pink hair, will it hurt my chances at getting a job?

I'm moving to Chicago in a few months and am planning to dye my hair natural brown before I leave so that I'm looking all fly and professional for interviews.

However, I'm slightly worried that they're going to find the four thousand self-absorbed photos of me out there on the internet and go hire someone more normal looking.

Are they even going to find my Flickr page, or how can I keep them from doing so? Everyone always says potential employers find everything you've ever possibly posted to the internet. However, I'm not sure they actually will. Pretend my legal name is Juliet Banana Smith; searching the Juliet Smith (which I am using on resumes) doesn't bring up much, searching Juliet Banana brings up my Flickr site and every time it's ever been linked. Only a few applications require me to tell them my middle name.

Should I try to show them I'll be less weird looking? Katala suggested putting a photo of yourself on your cover letter here. It sounds kind of vain, but I was thinking of sending snail-mail follow ups to jobs I've applied to online to make it seem more personal anyway. I do have professional, well-lit, modest portraits of myself with normal hair.

Would you not hire someone because you found out they had pink hair? I'm fully aware of how shitty the economy is, and fashion is not worth unemployment. Preemptively dying my hair or disabling my Flickr account seems kind of extreme, but if that's the smart thing to do, I'll do it.
posted by Juliet Banana to Work & Money (43 answers total)
i have a two different answers depending on your mindset:

1. mark your flickr photos as private. problem solved.


2. if you like having pink hair, you'll want to work somewhere that doesn't care if you have pink hair.
posted by SeƱor Pantalones at 2:25 PM on May 22, 2009

Can you change your name on Flickr (or in your Yahoo profile) to something more... fanciful?

Attaching a photo is not vain at all. (In Europe at least) it's completely normal.

And set the photos as private until you get the job. After that, they can suck it.
posted by dunkadunc at 2:30 PM on May 22, 2009

Speaking as someone who hires people here and again, I wouldn't give a fancy fuck if you were bald, as far as that goes. I also do not webhunt people who apply with me, just because I think that's kind of shitty. But if it's going to stress you out, couldn't you just set your privacy options in Flickr to disallow your photos (and for that matter your profile) from being seen via public searches? It's hiding without disabling, if that's a worthwhile distinction. You can always flip it back to Hello, World! when you get hired somewhere.
posted by Skot at 2:30 PM on May 22, 2009 [4 favorites]

Are they even going to find my Flickr page, or how can I keep them from doing so?

You have no way of knowing which, if any, potentials employers are going to google you, but I would suggest that for job applications that ask for your middle name, you give them your middle initial. I'm assuming a google search of "Juliet B. Smith" will return results similar to "Juliet Smith." Is this the case?

Should I try to show them I'll be less weird looking?

When I receive resumes or portfolios that have the applicant's picture on them, I'm a little weirded out, frankly. I may or may not be atypical in that respect.

Would you not hire someone because you found out they had pink hair?

Depends on the industry, the company, and the position. I work at a pretty laid-back company in a creative industry, and for the most part nobody here could give a flying fuck what color (or colors) applicants' hair is. Other situations may vary greatly. A big, old corporate law firm in Chicago, for example, might care a great deal.
posted by dersins at 2:31 PM on May 22, 2009

I dunno, I guess it depends on your field, but I'd hire you with pink hair.

Frankly, I'd just circumvent this issue by not including your middle name on your applications. Assuming you get hired somewhere, you can put it on the HR intake forms, but they don't actually need your middle name for a normal job application.

(I know, I know - they're asking for it. But I swear to God, not including a middle name is not going to lose you a job.)
posted by DarlingBri at 2:33 PM on May 22, 2009

Do not attach a photo to your application. In the United States, this is very uncommon, and employers in most fields will think it's weird. (Also, because employers are bound by antidiscrimination laws, most prefer not to know what candidates look like before interviewing, as it protects them from charges of discrimination on the basis of race, disability, etc.)
posted by decathecting at 2:38 PM on May 22, 2009 [10 favorites]

Katala suggested putting a photo of yourself on your cover letter here.

This American was taught to never, ever do that, from both sides of the table, as it opens the potential employee to discrimination and the potential employers to charges of discrimination.

I would leave it off and let your skills shine. They'll see you if they call you in for an interview.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:38 PM on May 22, 2009 [2 favorites]

Took a quick look through your Flickr stream. Depending on the business, you'll come off as either the coolest person ever or a self absorbed drama queen.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:44 PM on May 22, 2009 [3 favorites]

Post a bunch of photos of yourself with brown hair. Even if somebody does find your Flickr account, they probably aren't going to surf too deep into your photo stream unless they're super bored. Even a company that cares whether you have pink hair would be less likely to care if you ever had pink hair as long as they see you look professional now.

Don't, as others have said, attach a photo with your resume.
posted by willnot at 2:47 PM on May 22, 2009 [1 favorite]

Bar the entertainment industry, and perhaps a few other niche areas, NO employer in the United States wants to receive a resume or application with a headshot attached, lest the applicant have grounds to sue them under discrimination laws.

As for whether pink hair is a dealbreaker: that's entirely dependent upon the industry and the company culture.

Corporate law firm or investment banking firm? No way that pink hair will fly.

Advertising agency or design firm? Possibly.
posted by dfriedman at 2:51 PM on May 22, 2009

I would do this:
1. Make your Flickr account private.
2. Set up a LinkedIn account, with your resume and a photo of yourself.

My reasoning is this: They might look at your Flickr, so why take the chance? It's not such a big deal to change it, after all. Your photos look fun, but I would never say they look like the young professional ready to take the corporate world by storm. You might have to pick - green money or (not and) pink hair.

But, if they do look you up, hopefully they will look in a site like LinkedIn (that is, geared toward work), and on that site they will see you with lovely non-pink hair.
posted by Houstonian at 2:53 PM on May 22, 2009 [1 favorite]

(And PS -- on your Flickr, you've actually shown your name-change document.)
posted by Houstonian at 2:55 PM on May 22, 2009

I wouldn't put the photo in the cover letter.

This is deep in the land of "it depends". I've Googled people I was going to interview, mostly to see if their name was on any papers out there, but I never went to great lengths to track anyone down. Personally, I'd hire you for a job if you showed up at the interview with pink hair assuming you also demonstrated some level of competence or at least seemed to have a clue.

Come to think of it, we have a lady downstairs who often has a reddish pink streak dyed into her hair. Her hiring had more to do with her mass spectrometry ninjitsu. The PhD probably didn't hurt.

I'm guessing the there is little correlation between the people who wouldn't hire you and the people whose Google-fu is up to the task of figuring out you once had pink hair.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 2:58 PM on May 22, 2009

I'm not sure how conservative Chicago is. I live in the South, and pink hair wouldn't go over well here. I used to have my eyebrow pierced, and I know I wouldn't have gotten my current job if I still did.

If you can't get totally rid of the pink hair pix, can you make sure some pix of you with normal hair come up first? That way it looks like more of a past phase than current.
posted by radioamy at 3:01 PM on May 22, 2009

I think some people missed that you were going to dye your hair brown by the time it comes to interviewing in person- that you aren't planning to show up to work with your hair still pink.

Honestly though, I think potential employers would care more about crazy drunken photos than pink hair, but if you're worried about it, there's certainly no harm in making the photos unsearchable either.
posted by tachikoma_robot at 3:02 PM on May 22, 2009

Having looked at your Flickr photos I think pink hair is the least of your problems. Good advice for all job seekers is to put your best self forward and also make that first impression a good one. You don't want them pre-judging you. You want to get the interview, show up, wow them and then get paid for an honest day's work. If you are applying for jobs as a crazy club DJ or someone who fluffs up an audience for the crazy club DJ then your photostream is fine. Otherwise, maybe make it private for awhile.
posted by amanda at 3:03 PM on May 22, 2009 [4 favorites]

(And PS -- on your Flickr, you've actually shown your name-change document.)

With her last name redacted.
posted by Jaltcoh at 3:04 PM on May 22, 2009

First of all: Sorry about the suggestion about attaching the photo!

I'm going to second the concern about the crazy drunken photos- it's not even so much the pink hair so much as just how... well, like Houstonian said: "I would never say they look like the young professional ready to take the corporate world by storm." You might just want to set the whole photostream to private until the hiring process is over.

As well, I know it's not related to the hair but having an (obviously self-chosen, pointedly cutesy) last name like that is not exactly the best way to seem serious to an employer. Yet again, if you're going into something creative, they might realize you're kooky and creative and jump on your app: If it's a law firm, not so much. As well, you might not want to have your real name shown on your photostream, so as to avoid this sort of concern in the future.
posted by dunkadunc at 3:09 PM on May 22, 2009

If I were interviewing you, I might do some googling but I can't tell you for sure if I i would find your Flickr stream. However, if I did, I don't think the pink hair would be a deal-breaker but the sheer volume of hipster pics might give me pause, depending on the field we were hiring for. And after seeing the first couple pics, I would definitely keep scrolling just out of curiosity. Unless it's a club or a fashion-oriented job, I have to admit I might think twice. I'm old, so take that into consideration.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 3:13 PM on May 22, 2009

FYI, it is really easy to get from Googling your real name to your Flickr name, via things like your and Facebook accounts.
posted by matthewr at 3:15 PM on May 22, 2009

Corporate law firm or investment banking firm? No way.
I know a lawyer with purple hair. And another one with more facial piercings than I have face.

It all depends where you're applying, really. In some cases it might be a bonus in fact, such as creative fields or any business that likes to think of itself as alternative.

Having looked at your Flickr photos I think pink hair is the least of your problems.

Bah. Again, it all depends where you wish to work. I hire for creative firms and just about everything about our beloved JB would go in the "plus" column for me. There's nothing worse than a personality-free hire. They're the ones with bodies in the basement.
posted by rokusan at 3:20 PM on May 22, 2009

Hmm, I thought you were going to have a whole head of pink hair, but you just have pink bangs. I'd say that's no big deal. If they won't hire you because a lock of your hair was pink in the past, I'd say you really don't want to work there.
posted by oneirodynia at 3:23 PM on May 22, 2009

Possibly more of a problem: smokes that look like one-hitters.
posted by oneirodynia at 3:24 PM on May 22, 2009

Just so we're clear, I'm perfectly aware my online persona screams I'M WEIRD DON'T HIRE ME. I'm in the process of cleaning it up and separating my private life from public life, hence the question.

I've spent pretty much my whole life oversharing and in some cases, trying to become more viable and easy to find. It's nice when people you've never met know your name. It's not so nice when you you realize it all can be held against you in a job hunt. I appreciate the help figuring out what is easy to find, what isn't (this isn't a challenge, but believe me, there's worse things out there none of you have seen), and what should probably be marked as private or deleted.
posted by Juliet Banana at 3:26 PM on May 22, 2009

(viable=visable. posting questions always makes me nervous)
posted by Juliet Banana at 3:27 PM on May 22, 2009

Nthing: Do not put your picture on your resume (unless you're a model or an actor). It's common outside the US but bad mojo here since it can lead to discrimination lawsuits. I've never seen it done here.

Your pink hair may or may not matter depending on your field & employer. There isn't any way to answer without more information.
posted by chairface at 3:29 PM on May 22, 2009

I'd say, if you don't want to make your account private for the time being...if you're gonna dye your hair brown soon, post some new photos with your new brown hair. If you're gonna wait a while to dye your hair back to brown, well...that photoset where you're on the light brown sofa? With brown hair? Re-upload those with today's date. Now you have brown hair!

Also, like you said, they probably won't find you, esp if they don't know your middle name. If they do find you, hopefully they will realize that you're having fun on flickr.
posted by AlisonM at 3:35 PM on May 22, 2009

LinkedIn with conservative, professional-looking photo. That way, even if they find your flickr account and become aware of that side of your personality, they're equally aware that you are capable of presenting yourself as a professional adult. I'd be wary of any employer who expected you to never have fun or be creative when you're not at the office.
posted by Meg_Murry at 3:53 PM on May 22, 2009 [5 favorites]

Three things here:

I poke around online when I am thinking about hiring someone (to not only try and get a snapshot of their background, but also to get an idea about their demeanor and how they might be to work with). If someone is fun and competent they get double points from me.

Also, when I "google" people, I actually "pipl" people instead. You might try that as well, just to see what is waiting there for you.

Generally speaking (my observations only), the places that are going to be motivated and techno-savvy enough to find you out there on the intarwebs are also going to be the places that will care less about your hair. Places that traditionally care more about this sort of thing typically don't do these kinds of searches for the discriminatory reasons outlined above.
posted by milqman at 3:57 PM on May 22, 2009

I love your pictures. But, if you're applying for jobs where you're afraid of them not hiring you for your pink hair, then you should really really make your Flickr pictures private, because bikini tops and stripper heels and all are cute, but a you don't want a future employer making decisions off of those pictures. If pink hair isn't professional enough, the other pictures definitely aren't. They might not look you up online, they might not even find the Flickr pictures, but you don't want them taking the chance. They're more likely to come across facebook and myspace, so make sure you clean up those pictures too.
posted by KateHasQuestions at 3:57 PM on May 22, 2009

Anecdotal data point: I have a very google-able, very goofy blog. I recently was hired at a very professional company. My new boss told me that she found my blog--her only concern was that I would never, ever write about my job in it. Which is, of course, completely reasonable. She did say she dug my pics in a Vulcan outfit (with pink hair).

Honestly, I've had jobs where I felt obligated to hide any funky part of myself--for example, not only did I cover my tattoos at work (of course), but I also hid the fact that I had any from my co-workers for a very long time. This made me feel . . . uncomfortable and neurotic. I'd honestly rather work in a place where it's known that I'm a little funky and a little goofy in my off-time, rather than completely sublimating that side of myself. YMMV, of course.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 4:17 PM on May 22, 2009

Having looked at your pictures (which are great, btw), I would make the flickr account private. Not just because an employer might find it and not hire you because of it, but also because an employer might find it and hire you because of it. That's a situation you don't want to be in.
posted by darksasami at 4:53 PM on May 22, 2009

Currently employers hold the power when it comes to the job search. There are a lot more applicants than there are jobs available. If I were looking for work, I would want to do two things #1. Stand out proffesionally. #2. Give no reason to discredit my authenticity. If having pink hair increases your professionality - wear it with gusto. If however, it can be misconstrued by anyone in the hiring stream (HR department which could pre-screen candidates) as unprofessional, I'd work to ensure there was more good press about me than bad. That means: no myspace pages with pictures of me in my underwear (including on a "public" friend's page), no drunk shots, no party girl shots, and as minimal 'non corporate dress code approved apparel'. This doesn't mean make myself booring: halloween costumes are great (as long as you aren't "sexy dominatrix" or "office serial killer" for halloween), outdoor shots are great, even "early night on the town with friends" has a place to make one look less booring and more appealing. Remember, the idea is to make yourself look reliable, relatable and functional.

While yes, I agree it is skeevy and bad for an employer to go to great lengths to check up on you, if the employer is taking the time to hire someone, they want to hire the absolute best candidate for the job.

As such, after you do a "light professional scrubbing" of your online pressence (and really, if you can't find it in 4 clicks from google it doesn't exist), focus on the interview instead.
posted by Nanukthedog at 5:26 PM on May 22, 2009

I have pink hair. (I am 53, so we're getting into serious crazies.) I consider it an early warning system-- if you can't handle my pink hair you probably don't want me working here. And vice versa. This is really true. If you're concerned enough that a potential job will be in jeopardy because of a personal style choice, you need to consider either not applying for that job, or changing your hair.

But just to make you feel better, I don't think the hair has prevented me from getting any job. As one interviewer put it, she was very concerned about it when she first met me, but then after the interview told the other people on the committee-- all she had to do was open her mouth and I knew we wanted to hire her.

If it's about your hair, it's not a job you want.
posted by nax at 6:32 PM on May 22, 2009

I Google potential subcontractors for my business. If I found your Flickr stream, it's not really the pink hair that would give me pause but the little-girl thing, which I realize is a creative statement, etc., but it would still give me pause.

A couple of years ago I looked at a potential subcontractor's Flickr stream, which was mostly party photos and OMG comments about her AMAZING boyfriend XXXXXOOOOO. It made me think that she might not be mature enough to make the kind of independent decisions I needed her to make. If I were considering her for a less responsible position, it wouldn't have been an issue.

I'm not saying your stream is the same, but it would give me similar concerns. So I vote for putting your professional profile and photo on LinkedIn. LinkedIn will show up high in Google results, outweighing other stuff out there that isn't so blatantly attached to your name.

Depending on the type of jobs you'll be applying for, you might want to make your Flickr stream private as well. (If you're applying for anything in the financial industry, I'd say take many of the photos offline completely.)

BTW, the potential sub's Flickr stream used a nickname, not her real name. She had sent me a link to her blog when she applied, I noticed she was using another name there, and I Googled it.
posted by PatoPata at 7:58 PM on May 22, 2009 [3 favorites]

As a freelance research analyst, I've done due diligence background investigations before. Most small employers don't hire outside contractors to investigate people, but nevertheless...

If people find your flickr page, they'll find out you also go by "Juliet Banana". When they Google "Juliet Banana" and review your Metafilter posting history, they'll find this.

Unfortunately, this is likely to be a MUCH bigger dealbreaker than your hair.

You might be able to bring a psychiatric discrimination lawsuit under the Americans with Disabilities Act--but why make it easy for them to discriminate against your mental disorders in the first place? Personality isn't "all or nothing": you don't need to reveal everything to everybody to feel validated.

Like people have said, it all depends on what line you're in. When I used to stage manage a burlesque show at a bar, I totally would have hired you. When I designed album covers for a small classical record label, maybe. When I needed a personal assistant as a research analyst at a policy think tank? Not so much.

The fact that I've been able to get hired at all these jobs (and many others!) without people turning up their noses at me for being a "freak" or "boring" says a lot for compartmentalizing your past.
posted by aquafortis at 8:18 PM on May 22, 2009 [1 favorite]

Juliet Banana, was that you on the cover of UWeekly a couple of weeks ago, wearing a surgical mask for a story on swine flu? Anyway, whoever it was had a very nice swath of pink in the front of their hair and rather pretty brown eyes.

And then:

1. I would not put a pic of myself on a resume unless I was a professional clown or some other sort of entertainer

2. This question, as others have mentioned, does depend a lot on what industry you're interviewing for

3. I agree with the advice to make your flickr stream private, at least for now.
posted by HopperFan at 8:35 PM on May 22, 2009

If I were hiring and needed someone who faced customers in a traditional business atmosphere, I would not hire a pink haired person. But, I would only do that after I met you not before. I get so many resumes, that we search on the person after we interview and like them not before. We do not want to be prejudiced before meeting you. I would post pictures with brown hair and put a comment under the first one that says something like, "The care free crazy days are over. Time to get to work." It is cheesy and bs, but it tells any potential employer that you used to have pink hair, you are a unique individual, but you need a job and respect (not necessarily agree with) the rules of being employed in the business world.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 8:37 PM on May 22, 2009

milqman: "Three things here:

Also, when I "google" people, I actually "pipl" people instead. You might try that as well, just to see what is waiting there for you.

Thanks for reminding me that I still have a Friendster account...time to delete that!
posted by radioamy at 7:43 AM on May 23, 2009

I'm not going to google your middle name, don't know about your future employers, but I think that goes way beyond due process. I've never searched someone as just "firstname middlename".

If it's really all under that name, then I think you're a) probably pretty safe, and for extra paranoia b) I'd leave out your middle name wherever possible.
posted by Elysum at 10:14 PM on May 24, 2009

I appreciate all the answers. I'm still trying to figure things out, and still trying to find a job.

One thing that might be of use for any future searchers; it's really easy to remove your Flickr profile from public searches! Yay! However, it's impossible to remove the billion and one people who have stolen/referenced/linked to your photos in myriad blog entries, assuming your photostream is slightly popular. So googling my first and middle name is going to point to photos of me, no matter what.

Disabling my account or marking it completely private makes me incredibly nervous. Like, think about how most of you would feel being deprived the internet for a few months. It's a big part of how you interact with people and a big part of your life, right? Well, that little corner of the internet is pretty important to me. As the date where I really really really really need a job gets closer, well, my mind might change.

Also, I appreciate the lack of allegations that this was a thinly veiled self-link; it really wasn't. It's a public account I use a lot, hence the question; I honestly didn't expect so many people to, you know, look at it.
posted by Juliet Banana at 10:45 AM on June 5, 2009

Why do you feel so nervous? What's wrong with going ignognito for a few months? *That* would be the thing that might make an employer nervous. If you need to be so visible how will you cope with a job that requires you to *tone it down* permanently? Believe me, corporate life is no fun if you're having to suppress a big part of yourself in order to do it.
posted by freya_lamb at 10:40 AM on June 8, 2009

Yikes! Ignognito = incognito.
posted by freya_lamb at 10:44 AM on June 8, 2009

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