OK, so I now have a new job after being out of work for almost a year. I can honestly tell you all that it was NOT easy to get a "straight" gig with my four-foot dreads. Yep, even though my work experience is strong, my references are impeccable and the rest of my demeanor is totally pro, I know for sure that a few employers rejected me outright because I look this way. Now, honestly, the only "weird" thing about me is my hair... the rest of me is pretty regular. I have a neat goatee and one earring in my left ear, but that's the extent of my weirdness. When I'd come in for job interviews, I'd wear a perfectly tailored suit, twist my roots neatly, tie the dreads back with TWO hairties (one in the middle and one at the tail end) AND I'd use Frizz-Ease on the roots to make everything lay flat. Even my mom said I looked "smooth."
I'd show up in my black tailored suit and fresh shined shoes with a neatly shaved face, carrying a totally pristine black leather briefcase with an absolutely solid resume and references... When it was cold outside, I even had a tailored cashmere overcoat on top of this... and I'd still be rejected. Sometimes almost at first sight. Yeah. I went for about 20 interviews this past year, and I think probably 12 of them took one look at me and decided a guy with dreads was not right for their work environment. I got the vibe when they only gave me a perfunctory interview and sent me along without saying a word. After this happens a few times, you start to notice certain common characteristics to the way they handle you.. they never say anything outright, but they don't exactly give you the feeling that you'll be welcome there.
I was really, really, lucky when I interviewed here. I totally impressed the first person I interviewed with... even though she decided to go with a different candidate for the job, she referred me to another department as a definite asset to the company. So I got a second interview... then a third... and then the offered me a job. Every time I came in to interview, I wore a neat suit, tightened up my roots and made sure I looked like a million bucks.
When the HR person called me to offer the gig, I made sure I knew what the dress code was... lucky for me, there isn't one. Just the same, I made the decison to wear a tam to work for a while. Yes, even though they KNOW I have long-ass dreads, I have decided to let them get used to me before I drop the dread bomb on them. So... I shave and trim my beard every day, roll up my dreads and pack them into my tam before I hit the office. So... I come to work in neat black Dickies shirts and pants, black Timberlands and a black tam containing my dreads. I think I'm gonna keep this up for a few weeks before I come in with my hair down.
Maybe I'm being too careful.... but I want to be sure that I have this gig on lockdown before I let myself get too freaky in here.
Oddly enough, when the marketing department woman came around to get my info to make my business cards, she actaully said she was disappointed that I wasn't wearing my hair down... so maybe everything will be cool.... but I'm just gonna take my time with this.
Just thought I'd let the rest of my fellow dreadheads know that it IS possible to get a "real," professional office gig with extreme dreads. It's not easy, but it can be done.