my hair looks different than when I interviewed, we turned in our IT director, and more

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. My hair looks different than when I interviewed

I recently accepted a new job that I’m very excited about. It’s a promotion to VP, a huge salary bump and a great company doing inspiring work. The internal recruiter told me I nailed the interview and that the team is excited to have me. For the record, I’m a consultant.

I have very curly and unpredictable hair, so I got a blowout for the interview to ensure a good hair day (blowouts also just give me confidence!). The interview was two days with seven people, and my blowout lasted both days.

But I’m suddenly feeling really strange about showing up on the first day of work with completely different hair … not because my hair is curlier than the blowout let on, but because I have a side buzz that was 100% covered up by the blowout (sort of like this, but my hair is curlier). I have A LOT of hair, so from the front or when I wear it up, the buzz isn’t super noticeable.

The dress code at this office is casual (jeans), but I know this hair style is a little “different,” and I’m suddenly anxious that it won’t fit with the company culture. Do I acknowledge on my first day that I know my hair is “funky,” and if necessary I can style it to hide the buzz? I’d prefer not to style it that way on a daily basis, and I don’t want to grow it out (I’m a queer woman, and silly as it may sound this helps me feel connected to my identity). I could also flag that I am happy to cover the buzz during client meetings if needed. If the hair is an issue, I also WOULD grow it out for this job, I just don’t want to. I can’t decide if I’m totally overreacting and this is no big deal, or if my new boss will feel like I misrepresented myself in the interview. Do I acknowledge this? Do I wait to see if she expresses it as an issue?

I doubt it’s going to be an issue, especially in a jeans-wearing office. It’s true that some parts of consulting can be fairly conservative about hair, but when they are, they tend not to wear jeans. So I think you’re fine.

But if you’re really worried, you can always just ask your boss about it. You could say something like, “I realized my hair was more conservative-looking when I interviewed. Please let me know if this style will be an issue.”

The worse case scenario here is that you find out that yeah, they want you to cover it in client meetings. But they’re not going to think you misrepresented yourself in the interview process. People’s hair styles change, and that’s a normal thing.

2. We turned in our IT director and are worried he’ll retaliate against us

I have been at my current position (associate director of IT) for nearly four months. One month ago, my manager (director of IT) was fired for cause (he had been reading through documents in executives’ home directories, among other things). Two weeks ago, we got an invoice for a consultant nobody recognizes, supposedly working remotely to write policies and procedures. Our new director asked this consultant for the documents and they come in with metadata showing that they were last edited by the username of the recently-fired IT director, total editing time of a half hour or so.

I’ll spare you the details of digging through email, discovering the old director’s infidelities (using work email to coordinate assignations during business conferences), etc. The new director arranged for several of us to listen to the “consultant” on a conference call, which allowed for us to confirm that this guy is indeed the fired IT director. Suffice it to say, we confirmed that he’s attempting to defraud the company and have provided evidence to the CEO confirming this.

The CEO has determined not to pay any invoices, to cancel his (six-figure) severance package, and to send him a strongly-worded letter from our outside counsel.

Now that we’ve taken away approximately a year’s pay from this guy and thoroughly pissed him off, what should we expect in terms of retaliation? My peer and I, between us, have provided the evidence both for his firing and for his losing all of this money, and are both feeling very exposed, particularly as this guy knows where we both live and knows that we are the only ones who could have provided the evidence against him. How do we evaluate the behavior of someone like this?

It really depends on the guy. The most likely possibility is probably that you won’t hear from him again, at least partly because he won’t want to make the situation worse for himself. But if he’s unstable or irrationally angry, it’s possible that you will. I’d talk to your company about your concerns and ask them to help you figure out what measures you could put in place to protect yourselves from any possible retaliation.

3. Can sharing salary history ever work in your favor?

I have a question about sharing salary history. I understand why it’s usually preferable to avoid sharing it when possible, but are there situations where it can be beneficial? I’m thinking of something like this: I am currently employed in a well-paid full-time position and not actively looking to leave. However, the job I’m in isn’t a great fit in some ways, and while I’m okay in it for now I’d also be open to leaving for a lower salary to work somewhere that was more aligned with my values.

I periodically get contacted about positions that are more in line with what I’d really like to be doing (including some at places where I have strong relationships with people at the organization). Almost all of these are at nonprofits and would involve taking a pay cut, which I’d be okay with, though of course I’d like to minimize the cut as much as possible. In this case should I consider naming my current salary in the hopes that it will inspire a higher offer? Or will I turn them off by doing so, even if I make it clear that I’d be willing to leave for less?

It depends on how far apart you are. If your current salary is just slightly above what they’re envisioning paying, sometimes if they really want you, they’ll stretch to meet what you’re currently earning. But if you’re earning significantly more, sharing that is more likely to result in them just assuming they can’t afford you and moving on. Even if you explain you’d be willing to leave for less, they’re likely to skeptical that you’d be willing to move from, say, $100,000 to $40,000 — and if you are, there’s no real point in mentioning the $100,000 anyway.

I’d instead research the market and figure out what the market rate is for the work you’re hoping to do at the organizations you’re hoping to do it at. Then when salary comes up, you can talk in terms of what you’re seeking, rather than what you’re making now. Another option is to say something like, “I realize that in moving to a nonprofit, I’d be taking a pay cut, which I’m fine with. But can you give me a sense of your salary range, so that we can make sure we’re in the same general ballpark before we move forward?” (Some employers will tell you and some won’t, but when they’re the ones contacting you, it’s perfectly reasonable for you to ask.)

4. A customer asked me to send a recommendation to her boss

I sell wine for a distributor. One of my customers, a manager at a wine store, asked me to email her boss with what amounts to a recommendation for her (she’s done a good job over the last year and hasn’t received a raise, among other issues). I’m happy to do it, but is there any way this wouldn’t be appropriate or could backfire on me?

Not as long as you’re truthful. If you send over a glowing recommendation for someone whose work is mediocre, that’s going to make you look like you have questionable judgment. But as long as you’re honest in your praise, you’ll be doing her a favor that shouldn’t have any downside to you.

5. Giving a gift to my direct report but no one else

I am a new manager at a company where gift giving is sporadic and varies from group to group; in my 15 years here, I’ve only received gifts from bosses four or five times. I have only one direct report, but I’m a dotted line manager to about 20 others. I’d like to get my direct report a gift, but wouldn’t be able to give something of the same level to the others. Do you see this as a problem?

Nah. You’re not their manager. Dotted line manager, yes, but not the person responsible for their professional development, evaluations, etc. It makes perfect sense that you’d get a gift for your direct report and not the others.

{ 309 comments… read them below or add one }

  1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

    OP#2, if you have an HR department, they should have prepared a workplace violence emergency preparedness plan. I don’t mean to suggest the old director is prone to violence— although setting up a false consultancy to defraud the company that fired you is, imo, on the batshit side of “not in one’s right mind.”

    But oftentimes those plans will include information about your physical safety, what to do if a disgruntled employee shows up at your home, how to obtain restraining orders if necessary, etc. This guy is weird and out-of-bounds enough that I think having a plan and engaging your employer (who bears a moral, if not legal, responsibility to protect you) might help bring down the uncertainty and anxiety you and your colleague are feeling.

    Reply
    1. Fiennes

      My guess would be that any revenge would be more likely to involve the former IT manager’s skills — like, for instance, identity theft. Might the company be willing to pay for a year or two of one of the services that protects people from ID theft?

      But I agree that even if violence is unlikely, this guy sounds very angry and very determined, and the company should prepare for multiple contingencies.

      Reply
          1. Fiennes

            True, but I don’t get the sense you have to be a Mensa member to pull off identity theft. The former IT has at least some personal data from LW2, potentially quite a lot of it. It’s more than enough to work with if he wants to create havoc with their credit.

            (Which he well may not. Thus far the guy’s anger seems to be aimed at the company rather than the individuals. But if I could think of this, former ID guy could think of it too.)

            Reply
            1. Caro in the UK

              You absolutely don’t need to be super competent to make someone’s life extremely difficult with identity theft. Even if it ultimately fails, all of the effort to get everything cleared up can be a huge burden on victims.

              Reply
        1. Specialk9

          His behavior so far doesn’t seem to fit the active shooter profile, unless the OP left a ton out (which would be odd given the detail otherwise, so I’m thinking unlikely).

          Warning signs of those who have committed workplace violence (and remember that many have these signs bit don’t do anything):
          *Anger. Seething, always, under the surface or bursting out in scary episodes.
          *Anti social behavior. Causing discord. Aggression, isolation, angry flares, problem with authority. Or emotional outbursts, crying, sulking. They put everyone else on edge.
          *Dissociated thinking. Out of touch with reality, creates alternate reality that nurtures feelings of injustice and victimization. Often deeply paranoid that everyone is out to get them.
          *Revenge fantasies and violent thoughts, or excessive interest in killings. (Jokes about hurting or killing people should *always* be taken seriously, it’s often the only warning you’ll get of what’s inside their head.)
          *Perpetual victim. Refuse to accept responsible for own behavior, always blames others.
          *Poor hygiene.
          *Grievance. Lost job, break-up, something triggers fantasy to action.

          OP, you really haven’t mentioned any of these. If they don’t fit him, then you should take the reasonable security and vigilance actions you should already do but maybe put off, and then don’t lose too much sleep.

          If they DO fit him, talk with HR and Security about how they can protect you. Feel free to ask for specific measures. (My co gives priority parking and night escort to the car for those under threat, and a panic button, and puts a picture of banned people in a book that each front desk person has to review and initial at each shift. We get an armed guard outside if there’s a person who’s a threat.)

          Reply
          1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

            I don’t worry that he’ll be an active shooter. Workplace violence plans often take into account things like system hacks, identity theft, or a person showing up and being violent.

            Reply
      1. Snark

        My first thought would be a thorough audit of user accounts and requiring new passpwords for all users – it’d be trivial for him to leave a side door into the system.

        Reply
        1. JessaB

          This. They need to make sure the system is locked down completely. I’d probably hire an outside IT security consultant to make sure he can’t get back in. Because that’s where he can do the most damage. Obviously make sure he can’t get back into the building – if there is any chance he has keys, they need to change the locks, but screwing with the data, which he has already shown he’s willing to do with that fraud attempt can really hurt the company.

          Reply
        2. Kyrielle

          Thisthisthis. I understand OP’s concern for their own safety, and I would in their shoes also work that angle, but this system needs to be locked down tight, pronto, if it hasn’t already happened.

          Reply
          1. Jesca

            I 100% agree. Don’t underestimate batshit, seriously. You never know how much energy they can muster …

            I hope your company takes all this very seriously and is willing to take it to next levels if necessary.

            Reply
        3. Karen D

          This is priority No. 1.

          A longtime friend of our family was horribly betrayed by a longtime employee. After her husband’s death, it became clear that the employee had been steadily embezzling – at least in the high six figures. The employee was fired and charged and his access to the computer systems seemingly revoked, but he’d written himself a back door and over the course of a few months he and a few other “loyal” employees basically destroyed the business. These were not brilliant people, either – they tried to cover their tracks but failed dismally, and most of the benefit of their misdeeds went to competitors who snatched up company assets at sub-fire-sale prices or were able to wriggle out of contracts due to inside information, illegally obtained.

          But they were still able to demolish a business that had been producing several millions in revenue.

          Reply
    2. Wintermute

      I agree with your read that setting up a fake consultancy definitely paints him firmly in the guanopsychotic side of things.

      Reply
      1. Specialk9

        I mean, yes, but it seems pretty white collar thief territory. His two offenses were badly conducted snooping, and fraud. It doesn’t so much seem batspit crazy, as corrupt (but bungling).

        Lots of people steal from companies. Lots and lots and lots. Same with snooping, if you have access. They’re not ok behavior, but they’re so common.

        Though I’ll admit there are shades of Voldemort – the president who shall not be named – playing his own publicist on the radio, to this scenario. Just as pathetic.

        Reply
        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

          Fraud can be run of the mill, but the specific type of fraud he attempted is a couple steps outside “normal” fraud.

          It sounds like he has delusions of grandeur regarding his own intelligence/skills and a very low opinion of others’.

          Reply
    3. Marthooh

      LW#2 (and company) should be careful. Fired IT director sounds dangerously overconfident, like he might very well do the thing everybody thinks he surely wouldn’t be stupid enough to do.

      Reply
  2. Madame X

    Letter
    Wow that’s wild! I don’t know what that former IT director was thinking. By trying to defraud his former company he screwed himself over and now doesn’t even have a severance package.

    I don’t know much about IT but I’m guessing he also wasn’t very good at his job. How could he possibly think that the company would fall for his ruse of him impersonating a consultant they never hired? and then he sent over incriminating evidence with the metadata? So weird!

    Reply
    1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego (formerly Floundering Mander)

      For real. But I’m learning that even though I’m just a normal semi-IT literate person I know a hell of a lot more than many people out there, including members of Parliament who have experts advising them.

      Reply
  3. JamieS

    OP #1, I wouldn’t worry too much about the hairstyle. Over the last year or so, I’ve noticed quite a few women who’ve gotten the haircut so it seems to be a fairly trendy haircut ATM so I doubt it’d raise too many eyebrows.

    Reply
    1. Anon good nurse

      I wouldn’t raise an eyebrow. My pastor had a side buzz for a bit and she’s very clear that she’s not queer.
      It’s your hairstyle and it makes you happy don’t apologize for it. Now if you notice anyone giving you strange looks or treating you differently then address it but that’s a them problem not a you problem.

      Reply
      1. Mine Own Telemachus

        I’m attempting to give you the benefit of the doubt, but “My pastor had a side buzz for a bit and she’s very clear that she’s not queer” seems like a really strange qualification. While, yes, it’s commonly associated with queer ladies (like myself, and I have an undercut), it seems … odd to introduce it like “It’s okay, straight ladies wear it too.”

        Reply
          1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego (formerly Floundering Mander)

            Yeah me too. It might be edgy and funky but it won’t read as wacky or as signaling anything in particular.

            Reply
    2. Elemeno P.

      Yeah, it’ll probably be fine. My work has very strict wardrobe requirements for frontline employees that are slightly relaxed for back of house employees; technically we’re supposed to comply, but nobody pushes the issue. I have an undercut that isn’t very noticeable on its own, and I occasionally dye it fun colors. My boss is cool with me showing it most of the time, and I just keep my hair down for meetings.

      Reply
    3. Higher Ed Database Dork

      I had a buzzed undercut myself when interviewing – shaved all around except for a top layer that could be left down and it looked like a plain bob. I interviewed with it down, but the shaved bits were noticeable, and also my hair was bleached blonde. I got the job and have had zero issues with wearing it up in a top knot, or changing the color (it’s been at least 4 different colors since I started in Feburary), and now I’m growing it all back out so it’s a weird shaggy thing (in a new color of course). I would say my workplace is fairly casual – not jeans all the time, but not business casual – and it’s never been a problem.

      Reply
    4. Dawn

      I once interviewed with black hair, and showed up the next week to start with blonde hair, the hr manager thought I was just some random person walking in! You might get an eyebrow raised, maybe even a good natured comment, but people usually don’t care.

      Reply
      1. Specialk9

        Yeah I was assuming from the headline they interviewed with a natural hair color and then dyed it a vivid color like green or blue. A trendy 90s-reboot haircut isn’t really any big thing. I hear you that it’s your nod to your identity (I have a similar thing with my hair), but it’s not a universal thing and plenty of straight people have this haircut, so it’s not like people will go ‘whoa queer hair!’ It might be seen as slightly edgy by some, but realistically you could buzz the whole thing off and still be workplace appropriate. The hair rules, they’re out the windows these days.

        Reply
        1. Project Manager

          I actually got a somewhat similar haircut to work with my cochlear implant. It’s cut very short from behind my ear up to where the magnet attaches. The rest of my hair is still long(ish), and you can’t tell at all. I wouldn’t think anything about someone having this kind of hairstyle.

          Reply
    5. Susanne

      It sounds like you’re still talking well within the bounds of “normal professional” appearance – there’s no professional difference between a straight blow-out and curly hair, just different personal preference, and it appears as though your hair color is a color reasonably found in nature. I think you’re fine.

      If you were talking a really odd hair cut, or showing up with blue hair, I think it would really only be an issue if you were client-facing in industries where that was problematic.

      Reply
  4. Ramona Flowers

    #4 Would it actually be a helpful favour, though? I lack field-specific insight, but this is coming from a vendor who wants the buyer’s continued custom – so is the boss going to put that much weight on what they say? Are recommendations from vendors really going to help swing a promotion?

    Reply
    1. LKW

      I suppose it depends on the company. I’ve written emails to vendors with whom I’ve worked thanking them for their efforts and copied their PM or manager. It goes into their internal evaluation process and can only benefit them. Unless you’re lying, there is really no downside to thanking someone for doing a good job or making your life easier.

      Reply
      1. hbc

        I think that’s very different. You were the customer, so your feedback directly correlates to how good a job the sales person or customer-facing employee did, because their job is to make you happy. Whereas if that same vendor wrote to your boss saying what an awesome job you did, well, your boss knows that they’re mostly happy just to take the company’s money. In fact, most of the things that make a vendor happy aren’t actually good for the customer–paying early, being easy-going about quality problems, accepting whatever terms the vendor offers, etc..

        Absent something very specific (“she forecasts so well that we’ve been able to give your company a discount”), there’s really not anything to be gained, and I would be giving my own purchasing person a lot of side eye for hitting up suppliers in that way.

        Reply
        1. Fiennes

          Specificity would be key here. If the recommendation is very generic (“a pleasure to work with,”) then it’s meaningless. But I could imagine specific, detailed info from a vendor that might be very persuasive (“she was the first in the region to buy in on the Oregon Pinot noir that’s become so popular, and sales records show your customers absolutely loved it,” etc.)

          Reply
      2. Specialk9

        I make a habit of thanking and praising people I work with, and cc’ing their bosses and someone’s grandbosses – everybody gets performance reviews, and unsolicited positive reports weigh strongly. I also make a habit of sending LinkedIn recommendations – they can review before choosing to post (or not). I believe strongly that there is not enough positive feedback in the workplace.

        Reply
        1. Anion

          I do that, too, whenever I (as a customer) deal with a customer-service-type person who helps me. I always ask phone reps if I can talk to their supervisor to give them a compliment, or talk to a manager in person at a store, or ask who I can email or whatever.

          Not only does it hopefully help them when it comes time for raises etc., but when I worked as a phone rep those calls really made my day; my workplace would copy the customer’s comments down on a certificate, basically, and you could hang them in your cube. On days when things weren’t going well I’d re-read them and it would cheer me up, so I like to think that maybe they do the same for others.

          (My glowing email was directly responsible for getting a salesclerk into a management training program a few years ago, which was very exciting for both of us!)

          Reply
      3. CS Rep By Day, Writer By Night

        I recently got a small bonus because I was called out by name in a very positive manner by a vendor my company doesn’t even directly do business with at an industry conference. They’re a 3rd party collections agency that does business with one of our customers, and one of their reps occasionally send me questions and requests for backup directly (authorized by the customer, of course). Well apparently the rep mentioned how helpful and pleasant I am to work with, and word traveled up the food chain to her leadership, who in turn relayed it to my leadership at the conference. It was a really nice surprise for me and very much appreciated especially since I felt like I was just doing my job.

        Reply
    2. Falling Diphthong

      It sounds like a close relative of those “If you want a raise, you need to interview at another company and get a job offer and then we’ll pay whatever they offer” lines of management reasoning. That is, I would be squicked on any corner of this weirdness, but I could believe the company flat-out said that a couple of letters from her vendors would be the key to getting a raise.

      Reply
  5. ReanaZ

    OP3, language I’ve used in a similar situation was “I’m currently making $X. I am expecting to take a cut to go back to nonprofit work, but if you could make your offer a little more competitive, I’d take it.”

    It was nearly a $20k difference; They came back with bump that halved it and told me it was the top of their range. Most successful negotiation I’ve had.

    Reply
    1. AndersonDarling

      My non-profit has had issues with inflating the job descriptions so you have VPs applying for jobs that are really coordinator level. Once applicants state their current salaries, and HR realizes they will never find a specialist that will accept the reserved salary, they will go back to the drawing board.
      Sometimes you just need to state your salary so they know at what level you are currently working. A $5K-10K difference may just be wiggle room, but when applicants are seeking $40K-50K more, then it is better to get that out in the open and figure out where the mis-match is. Some non-profits have great recruiters and others are just floating along.

      Reply
      1. zora

        But you can get that same info by the company telling the applicant what the company’s range is. And then the candidate knows where they stand. It doesn’t have to come from the candidate first.

        Reply
    2. Liz Lemon

      I recently applied for a job that, it turned out, was looking for someone more junior (and budgeting accordingly) but we really hit it off. I am usually pretty tight lipped about my current salary when applying for jobs, but in this case I just told them my salary, and said I was looking to make a small increase in order to move.

      They met that request and long story short, I’ve been here for 3 months!

      I think there are times when it makes sense to just be straightforward about what you currently make/are willing to take—specially when you are initially very far apart. When that’s the case, you have nothing to lose, really.

      Reply
  6. WebDev

    OP#2, I’d be more worried about a retaliation against your systems as that appears to be his domain and MO from what you’ve already caught him with.

    I’d spring for a full security audit from a well-respected firm. A rouge technically savvy person with a leadership position can do immense damage, and the firm you hire should know how to deal with this type of situation.

    Reply
    1. Tyche

      This!
      The first thing that came to my mind was: are we prepared if this guy retaliate?
      Maybe a throughout checking of your system (internet connection, passwords, PCs…) is not a bad idea.

      Reply
      1. SorryCassandraIMisunderstood

        And procedures for firing.

        Dudes and dudettes, if you are firing someone, ESPECIALLY someone high up in IT, you disable their username and all access, including ability to remote, BEFORE you let them know they’ve been fired. If they had knowledge of shared passwords, such as the ability to log on to restricted servers, those passwords are also changed.

        This guy could access the system remotely with his IT-manager ID. Presumably he still had access to the administrative functions in the company. I’m *not* that high up in IT, but at my employer I could delete our QuickBooks database, and data files in use at 90% of our clients. They could certainly be restored, but that restoration would take time.

        True story: we had one guy quit in a rage. We blocked his access. He did only internal stuff—never had access to clients’ servers—so this was relatively simple.

        Except someone forgot that he had been involved with the purchase of a domain name clients used to access their software for upgrades and such. He got pissed at us for some reason, and a year later revoked that domain. Cleaning up that mess took three days.

        Old job had the right idea. They walked the CIO into the CEO’s office, and as soon as the door shut they revoked his access and initiated a network-down-for-maintenance in 10 minutes. While the network was down they changed all the IT administrative passwords on the mainframe and network servers and VPN, and they removed the keyboard from his PC. By the time Security was watching him pack his personal effects in his office, the network was back up, and he couldn’t access anything.

        Reply
        1. eplawyer

          I worked for a small agency once that had to fire someone. While the boss was firing him, I went in and disabled his computer by the simple expedient of unplugging it. Sure enough, the guy came out of his firing and immediately sat down at his computer. He couldn’t figure out why it wasn’t working so he packed his stuff up and stormed out. He later tried to trash us by filing a police report claiming we were misusing city funds. It got the attention it deserved.

          People fired for cause get mean sometimes. Tell the company your concerns so they can protect you and the company. If the guy shows up at your house, don’t hesitate, call 911. He has no reason to be there. The cops will understand even if all they do is tell him to leave and not come back.

          Reply
        2. the gold digger

          The first time Primo ran for office, we made the very stupid mistake of hiring a campaign manager. Wait. We hired a bad campaign manager. That’s on us. (We assumed that since her previous candidate had been elected, she was a good campaign manager. Turns out Previous Candidate and her husband had done all the work with Campaign Manager riding their coattails. Previous Candidate’s husband told us later, “Yeah, if you had just asked us….”)

          We eventually fired her, as did another candidate for that same election season. Campaign Manager had set up the campaign website for the other candidate under CM’s name, not the candidate’s name, and extorted money from Other Candidate to hand the site over after CM was fired.

          Now, if CM’s name ever comes up, I make sure to tell others how unprofessional and awful she was. I want her never to get another job as a campaign manager.

          Reply
        3. Miles

          “If they had knowledge of shared passwords”

          Also to this point — Shared passwords should really not exist. If there is equipment which really cannot be set up without shared passwords (a rarity, but it can happen) that equipment should not be accessible except by physically being at the relevant terminal, with access to the terminal restricted to only people who should be using it & cameras in place to identify who is using it at what times.

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      2. Kj

        Yep. My previous company had an IT person who phished their way into the system after having been fired…. and we work with medical records. Not good.

        Reply
    2. Interviewer

      I would also call/write vendors that he may have some type of related power (budgetary/contract/decision-making) to let them know that person no longer works for the company, so that he can’t call and make things happen without the company’s knowledge. It’s one thing to change passwords – it’s another thing to call vendors and change account information, place large orders, cancel contracts, etc.

      Reply
    3. Dawn

      I had a boss that treated me like garbage, never took it seriously when I tried to implement ways for him to remember passwords, and let me handle all financial transactions with my signature. We went toe-to-toe and I walked, it took him two weeks of explaining to the bank that he really was the owner and I was the employee. I got a call from our VP in another state and I had to walk him through how to get to the company hidden folder on our shared server where I updated passwords, and where I saved the information on the owners personal computer so he could have access if he ever bothered to look.

      Reply
    4. Anion

      Yes! And dude, OP, be careful with your emails–what links you click, which emails you open, etc. Remember that emails can be “spoofed,” so it looks like it comes from someone you know or a business you deal with regularly. So be careful not only of your personal security, but your cybersecurity as well.

      Reply
  7. HA2

    #2 – if there’s retaliation, it’s most likely IT kind of retaliation. Good time to make sure you have backups where backups are supposed to be had, that admin passwords have been changed and his access is disabled, etc.

    Reply
    1. Troutwaxer

      Don’t just deny him access to the PCs and servers. Also make sure that the passwords on the routers, switches, firewalls, phone systems, etc., have been changed. Essentially, every electronic device which connects to the network must have both administrator and ALL user passwords changed. Also, if you maintain data off-site, (for example, if you have a cloud service or someone else is hosting your company’s web site,) you should change those passwords too. In addition, a security audit should make sure that all the computer programs on all machines are running the most recent patches, and this again includes all routers, switches, firewalls, phone systems, etc.

      Spend the money to bring in outside experts for this even if you trust your IT staff, because your old IT director may trust them too! Also, the suggestion above about hiring an identity protection service is a good one! (If you offer Legalshield as a benefit they also have an identity theft service, which may make doing this very cheap!)

      Reply
  8. ReanaZ

    OP1, this is a big fear of mine too! I joke that I have a haircut with 5 settings, from Interview to Trying to Pick Up After Pride. It took me over a year to slowly get it this gay to slide under the radar at my old employer. I usually wear it set at 1 for all interviews and new clients and could, conceivably, wear it that way all the time but I don’t want to. Usually I wear it at a 2 or 3 at work, but am nervous to start a new job with it…

    Let us know how it turns out!

    Reply
    1. Ainomiaka

      I also love this phrasing. And think it may be relevant for the op-can she ease into how visible the undercut is? If it started sometimes but not always visible, I could totally believe I just didn’t register it from the interview.

      Reply
    2. The Cosmic Avenger

      This is exactly the point I was going to make; OP#1, you have already shown your new employer your range, and they know you can “suit up” when a little more formality is in order. While I personally think that that hairstyle would be fine with a really nice outfit, you can always ask a peer or supervisor before your first meeting how much might need to dress it up for this client. (Because obviously expectations can vary from client to client, too. And even if a client is informal, just like with interviews, it’s better to overdo it a bit than under-do it, especially the first meeting.)

      Reply
    3. Say what, now?

      I kinda wonder if the OP is worried about being “this gay” at her new office. If you’re worried about looking different, I wouldn’t think that it’s an issue because people change their hairstyles as Alison said. If you’re worried about it reading gay you might want to re-evaluate the company culture. Did it come off as LGBTQ-friendly or did it leave you anxious about being out at work?

      Reply
      1. OP1 Side shave

        This is a good question, but I’m not sure my hairstyle is really “A Gay Haircut” – as some commenters have pointed out, it’s pretty trendy right now, even outside the LGBTQA a community.

        I’m a bi woman in a hetero marriage, so unless sexuality is brought up most people at work don’t know or realize I’m queer. I more so included that bit to clarify my attachment to the hairstyle, and why growing it out isn’t a super comfortable option for me.

        Reply
        1. GG Two shoes

          Yeah, it’s weird to me that several folks here think this is a “gay” haircut. Everyone I know with one is hetero. It’s pretty popular with 20/30/40 year old women.

          Reply
          1. ReanaZ

            It is a gay haircut and has been for many years. We’re pretty mad straight women are in the process of stealing it from us, to be honest.

            #jokingbutnotreeeallyjoking

            Reply
            1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego (formerly Floundering Mander)

              Really? I had a haircut like that in high school in the 90s and never thought of it as gay, more punk but easily concealed if you part your hair differently. Of course as a 17 year old I wasn’t that clued in to such things.

              Reply
              1. Lissa

                Can I have this haircut if I’m bi? What about questioning? How queer do I have to be to get this haircut?

                /jokingbutnotreally

                Reply
                1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego (formerly Floundering Mander)

                  I just meant that this was an interesting new fact to me. I didn’t know this hairstyle had any specific connotations.

                2. Gadget Hackwrench

                  There is no quantity of queer, you are or you aren’t, if you’re not straight and non-trans you’re eligible, but not all LGBTQ ppl identify as queer, due to the history of the word so careful applying it to others.

                  Go get an undercut. Join the Bi-Undercut-Queer Army. See below, where there’s a whole fleet of guy-married bi folk talking about how much we love our undercuts. :D

        2. Joielle

          Hi OP1 – just wanted to chime in and say that I’m a bi woman married to a bi man, and I also have a side shave haircut. I totally feel you on wanting to present more queer in your daily life. I struggle with that a lot. Nobody knows at work because it’s not like I can casually mention a girlfriend in conversation, and it just feels too personal to be like “By the way! I’m bi!”

          I’m an attorney and work for the government, and even in that fairly conservative environment it hasn’t been a problem. Mine is pretty short all over (like this https://i.pinimg.com/originals/f7/20/05/f72005247275fc42cfb188aea2f8024c.jpg) so I don’t even have the option to cover the sides. I don’t know if people read it as an LGBTQ thing or not. I dress pretty formally to make up for the edgier haircut, and it seems to go over well. I think you’re probably fine!

          Reply
          1. OP1 Side shave

            This is really comforting (on many levels!!). It can be an isolating feeling, and I don’t think you know what this comment means to me. Thank you for chiming in, and for the reassurance.

            Reply
            1. Liz Lemon

              I’m bi lady, married to a man AND recently moved to the burbs and had a baby…holy hetero life. This thread is making me realize why I’m so excited about getting exactly this haircut. Ha!

              I work in sales (although not for a conservative industry) so first impression is very important. Glad to know it hasn’t been an issue for you Joielle!

              Reply
            2. Joielle

              Aw, good! I don’t want to derail with a novel-length comment, but suffice to say that I have SO many feelings about all this – straight-passing privilege, bi erasure, acceptance in queer spaces… it’s a lot. Appearing straight makes life both easier and more complicated. Solidarity :)

              Reply
            3. Gadget Hackwrench

              I’m also 100% with you on the identity thing Joielle, Arielle, Liz and OP. I’m also Bi (nonbinary but read female) and married to a dude and I got mine done about 8 weeks ago, and looking in the mirror has never felt more right. I don’t look “straight girl” in the mirror anymore, I look like the total queer mess that I am. lol. I’ve always had short hair so this actually required growing the top out longer than it’s been in years, just to get enough to flop over the side in case of formal occasion or office offense, but I haven’t needed to flop yet! The office has been totally cool about it. Heck they’ve been totally cool about my helix earring and slowly growing lobeholes too. They’re 12g now, and I’m planning to stop at 6g (4mm in diameter.) I figure at that size they’ll still look like cabachon studs. I do have to take out my vertical snakebites still tho. The world is not ready. :p

              Reply
        3. Arielle

          This isn’t really advice but just some solidarity about the importance of a haircut. I am also a bi woman married to a man and it is really important to me that my hair and general style get read as queer. Otherwise I feel like I’m invisible.

          Reply
        4. Say what, now?

          Yeah, my first thought was Miley Cyrus and that actress that plays Sansa on GOT, both have sported the look at some point so it just seems like a trend. But based on what the other people have said (and how you feel about keeping it) it sounds like it could have connotations outside of trendy for some people. The main thing is as long as you feel safe at work it isn’t an issue. Maybe it’s a moot point but I just wanted to say that if you get the feeling that your workplace culture runs anti-LGBTQ it might be a good thing to evaluate those feelings now before you start.
          But if you really feel good about the culture than I wouldn’t lose sleep over the look. If anything you’ve just used the interview to demonstrate how chameleon-esque your look can be.

          Reply
  9. jd

    Is the haircut thing a really big deal? I’m not a woman but most people read me as female and I’ve sported a fully shaved head since I was a teenager, which I realize is considered an unconventional hairstyle for someone read as a woman. It’s not quite down to shiny bald but it goes from a very tight fuzz to about half a centimetre growth max (which is as long as I can grow it before I go squirrelly and my mood takes a sharp dive–I shave partly for the aesthetic but mostly because I cannot stand having hair on my head).

    I’m in my 30s now and I’ve worked various jobs, mostly in university and nonprofit settings and it’s never come up as an issue there, including one fairly big and more corporate-ish non-profit that wanted to hire me (didn’t work out for unrelated reasons). But I’ve never worked in government or a truly corporate setting yet, and with my particular job that’s a future possibility. Is it likely that my hairstyle could hold me back from these environments where more conservative appearance is preferred? I’m not otherwise very daring or flashy. The haircut is about comfort, not fashion.

    Reply
    1. Sheworkshardforthemoney

      As someone who gets a No.2 haircut every six weeks I agree with you. The short hair has never been an issue. In fact, the super short haircut suits my face. I wonder how many women would take a buzz cut if they felt it wouldn’t hold them back.

      Reply
      1. SchoolStarts!

        I’ve never done a complete buzz cut but I’ve gone from quite long to what I call “boy short” (sorry) several times without warning. I’ve told people, hey, you should try it, it’s liberating, it’s fun…and the reply I often get it “Oh, my husband/boyfriend wouldn’t like it.” I’ve yet to hear someone say it would hold back their career.

        I’m possibly in the wrong field to never have heard that concern but I would believe it to be true for some.

        But I feel sad that some women won’t try something “daring” with their hair because their partner won’t like it…or it’s how their partner prefers them to look.

        I did my first long to short cut on a whim, without warning to my partner. He does prefer my hair long but since it’s MY hair, if I want to cut it, I do.

        Reply
        1. FiveWheels

          I don’t know that taking partner’s opinion into account is a bad thing. Most relationships involve mutual attraction and a boy change in physical appearance can change how physically attractive someone is.

          If I was dating someone with a beard, that I loved, and he shaved it off without warning, might very well be annoyed. I mean the partner’s opinion shouldn’t be the be all and end all, but I don’t think it should be ignored either.

          Reply
          1. Emi.

            Yeah, I agree. My husband doesn’t control my hair, but I do want him to like it, and he wants me to like his hair and beard.

            Reply
            1. Falling Diphthong

              My husband, then boyfriend, came back to school with long hair, and when he asked I said that I liked it better short. He cut it, and it’s been short since. He didn’t try the beard and mustache until we’d been married a good while, and when I said it was okay but I preferred clean shaven went back to that.

              It’s not like I issued any complaints, but I think it’s fair to weigh your romantic partner’s view, especially if you’re pretty neutral about a style choice. If he’d felt strongly about the beard and mustache, I would have shrugged and been fine with it.

              Reply
              1. Rusty Shackelford

                Mr. Shackelford and I have this conversation on a regular basis.

                “Is this haircut too short for you?”
                “Honey, it’s your hair. Wear it how you like.”
                “I know, but I also love you and want you to like it, and I know you like it longer.”
                “I like it longer but this is good too.”

                (BTW, we’re talking about *his* haircut, not mine.)

                Reply
                1. Falling Diphthong

                  For the time he’s known me, my hair has been shoulder-length to mid-back. He has never noticed a haircut. Our small child noticed–there has been a change in the mommy!!!–but not my spouse.

                  Small child was also traumatized when I got new glasses, which my husband dealt with with equanimity.

              2. Artemesia

                Me too. I colored my hair when I was early grey partly because my husband liked it that way; once he was grey too I let it go natural and he likes it that way now. I love beards and so he has kept his beard for decades now. Obviously a person should not do something they dislike with their own appearance, but doing something that pleases the partner? Why wouldn’t you if it isn’t offensive to you?

                Reply
          2. Allison

            You explained this way better than I ever could. I have short hair, and I wouldn’t bother with someone who didn’t like women with short hair, but if I were to consider a drastic change in my appearance (like get a pixie cut or go blonde) I’d probably ask my boyfriend’s input, since we’re a long-term couple considering a future together. Or at the very least, if I was dead-set on the idea, I’d at least let him know “I wanna do this thing to my head, and I’m really excited about making that change but I also don’t want you to run away screaming when you see it.”

            Reply
            1. Demon Llama

              “I wanna do this thing to my head, and I’m really excited about making that change but I also don’t want you to run away screaming when you see it.”

              That’s exactly the approach I took with my long-term partner and it went really well! I’ve experimented with a few different styles and he was 100% supportive but also expressed some preferences. I’m now gravitating back to his favourite cut so we’ll see how that sits for a while. :)

              Reply
          3. Another person

            Same. (Although actually reverse with the beard). If my husband decided to grow a beard, it definitely would annoy me (although that is also a sensory thing in a way that hair-on-top-of-head is not, bc of kissing reasons).

            Reply
            1. Falling Diphthong

              Kissing advice (given to my husband by a coworker with a beard) is to duck and come up, so the mustache isn’t oriented to scratch. (My husband is a foot taller than I am.)

              Reply
          4. Anion

            Exactly. I know my husband loves me no matter what my hair looks like–and I’ve done a wide variety of cuts, colors, and styles in the twenty years we’ve been together–but I also want him to like it. He’s the one who has to look at it all the time, lol. And I want him to feel proud to be with me when we go out together; he feels the same, which is why he doesn’t change his hair or grow/shave a beard without checking with me.

            Reply
          5. Susanne

            I agree. It’s one thing if a partner/spouse *demands* that you wear your hair a certain way (and by hair, I could mean hair in lots of places …) but if you know that he or she prefers it a certain way and you like it yourself, I see nothing wrong with taking that into account.

            Reply
      2. peachie

        I’ve become really attached to my current hairstyle, but man, I think about going back to a buzz cut all the time. It’s so easy to take care of and it looks cool as hell.

        Reply
      3. the gold digger

        If short hair looked good on me and if it didn’t mean I would be even colder than I usually am, I would totally get a buzz cut. I hate maintaining my hair. I could sleep an extra ten minutes every morning.

        Reply
      4. TardyTardis

        In my semi-rural county, a butch haircut is often sported by way older women who are big things in National Cattlewomen, and all it means is that they don’t have time to mess with their hair, it’s foaling time again! Or they’re contemplating bidding on that thousand acre spread that just went into foreclosure. They tend to go in for frilly hats for Easter, but mostly can’t be bothered.

        Reply
    2. Tuesday Next

      But you interview with the same hairstyle, right? My concern for the OP is not the hairstyle but the big difference between how she looked when she interviewed and on her first day at work. I’d expect to recognise the person I’d interviewed without having to look twice – so I guess it depends just how different she looks.

      Reply
      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        But people change their hair styles, and sometimes they happen to do it between an interview and a first day at work. It’s really not a big deal, as long as the new style isn’t somehow problematic.

        Reply
      2. Sparkly Librarian

        My second job (just after high school graduation), I interviewed at a Borders and between the interview and my first day (AFTER consulting the employee handbook), I dyed my hair purple. My new manager was a little taken aback, but couldn’t really do much about it. Creative hair colors were okay with corporate (unlike at Barnes & Noble). And I was good at that job, so she never had a reason to!

        Reply
      3. Mookie

        I’ve experienced a kind of temporary double-take, as you say, when I encounter someone at work I don’t know very well looking not as I last remembered them; sometimes I don’t even recognize them at all. I’ve seen people say such things out loud, but without intending any secondary, nefarious meaning. Nevertheless, sometimes that approach can feel like a subtle attack or passive-aggressive dig, make people self-conscious and uncomfortable, like they’ve done something wrong. But they really haven’t — it’s not ‘fraud’ or anything, and it’s really no different from interviewing in a more formal vein for a position that is best filled wearing a casual wardrobe — and LW1, if you do decide to let them address it first I wouldn’t interpret that automatic reaction (“wow! I didn’t recognize you”) as negative. People sometimes flub it badly (rarely are they assholes about this*). I think this is going to be fine.

        *I worked with a woman who would cycle through straight and non-straightened coiffures and some of our colleagues took this personal in a loud and excruciatingly obnoxious way, like they’d pitch a whingefest and try to guilt-trip her into wearing something they approved of

        Reply
      4. OP1 Side shave

        Hi – OP #1 here. This is precisely what I’m worried about. However, to be frank, even without the side shave my hair looks DRASTICALLY different when I have a blow out vs. wearing my natural curls, and no way am I getting a blow out every day for this job … so I would look very different either way.

        And I do see this conversation has taken on the debate of curly hair in the workplace, which I’m not trying to rekindle (because while I have faced plenty of crappy backlash as a result of my neat, tidy, non-frizzy and cared-for curls, I don’t worry about this with my new company) … but more so I just want to flag that side shave or no, without a blow out I look very different.

        Reply
        1. Hills to Die on

          Well, I will speak for the maybe-play-it-conservative approach. I have worked at places where jeans were okay but a shaved-side hairstyle would raise eyebrows. Especially as an executive and/or consultant. I think it depends on the industry and I would show up with a blowout and/or wear it down at first until you can gauge the environment better. There’s nothing wrong with giving yourself the opportunity to show up and be perceived in the best light possible. Please let us know how it goes!

          Reply
          1. IcedTea

            Do you have a LinkedIn profile? What is your profile picture on there? If it’s not already a pic with your side shave, then what if you go ahead and update it? I’m in the corporate world, and we always check out someone’s LinkedIn before they start.

            Reply
        2. ML

          OP1, for what it’s worth, I have a similar hairstyle (it’s totally a queer girl style, and yours sounds AMAZING with curly hair), and in my business casual office (business M-T, jeans first F), no one bats an eye — in fact, my Grandboss has complimented my hair when I get my fade touched up.

          I too was VERY nervous for my interviews (I didn’t hide it or my tiny rose gold septum ring), and it has literally never been an issue. Wear your hair how you like; I think, like me, you wouldn’t have felt good about working in a place that felt so conservative that your hair would be an issue. Good luck in your new job, you’re gonna rock it!

          Reply
        3. Jessie the First (or second)

          My hair, when I blow it dry, is straight and calm (ish). When I let it air dry, it is curly. Very, very different looks. I alternate regularly – some days I show up with sleek hair, sometimes I show up with a mop of curls. That’s just how my hair works, and no one has ever mentioned it in all my years of working/interviewing. Maybe some people who see me at an interview with my sleek hair are later surprised by the curls, but no one has ever said a thing, and as time goes on and they see that my hair is different day to day by now must have gotten over any sort of “OMG, she totally pulled one over on us” feeling, if they ever had it to begin with.

          Reply
        4. Matilda Jefferies

          Would you consider a blowout for the first day, just to ease the transition a bit? Then your colleagues can see you as they saw you in the interview, and then watch you slowly transform back to your curly-haired self.

          They’re unlikely to think that you have misrepresented yourself via your hairstyle regardless, and I do think you’re overthinking it a bit. But, I have over-thought this exact same issue, so I kind of get what you’re thinking! If you’re worried about making too drastic a change between your interview and your first day, this might be one way to do it.

          Reply
        5. AnitaJ

          I’ll be totally honest–as someone who interviews many a person, I just…I probably wouldn’t remember. I would vaguely remember your appearance, but unless you looked particularly slovenly or particularly stylish, I just wouldn’t recall the particulars. I see so many people that what I usually remember about them is how impressive they were and how excited I was to hire them, not their hair or makeup. I can’t speak to the haircut itself, but if you’re worried about the ol’ switcheroo in appearance, I personally think you will be A-OK.

          Reply
        6. Anion

          OP, I wonder if maybe, for your first day, you could wear it sort of in-between?

          Like, instead of a blow-out (which, yeah, you shouldn’t have to keep that up if you don’t want to) you could sort-of straighten it at home when you blow dry. Just to relax *some* of the curl. That way you’re still showing that “straight” isn’t the only style your hair comes in, but you’re not doing a full 180 from the interviews.

          You can do that for the first day or two and kind of gauge reactions that way, and if someone mentions it you can say, “Oh, yeah, it’s naturally really curly. I had a blow-out for the interview, which is rare for me, but I didn’t want to scare you guys by showing up with my hair in its natural state.” (If you kind of laugh here, you make it clear that you don’t think they’re stiffs or anything, and are light-hearted about it all.)

          Odds are they’ll say they don’t care, and there you go! Or if they say, “Well, I’d have to see it, but of course when we meet with clients we need you to look sleek and professional,” or whatever, you have an answer to that question. I doubt they’ll say that, though. I mean, your hair is your hair; what are you supposed to do, you know? It’s not a requirement for “looks professional” to spend hundreds of dollars on hair straightening. (I have quite a story about hair and “professionalism,” but unfortunately I can’t tell it because it would out me. )

          But anyway. I think maybe if you just loosen the curl some for that first day, you’ll spare everyone the “Is that you?” reaction without having to commit to regular blow-outs, and it will give you a chance to ask about it/have a conversation about it.

          Good luck, whatever you do!

          Reply
          1. Amy

            Honestly, that seems like putting in way too much effort for something people aren’t likely going to notice. Sounds like they’ve seen her maybe once in person. Are they really going to remember what her hair looked like? And it doesn’t sound like the curls are the worry for her, it’s the shaved part. I think it’s a common and trendy enough hairstyle that people aren’t going to be freaked out by it.

            Reply
        7. Artemesia

          I might show up for work the first day with the blow out and then by the end of the week when the blow out is blown move to the curls and buzz look.

          Reply
        8. Julia the Survivor

          I *always* loved curly hair and wanted it myself. People who make a big deal of curly hair are jerks, and you are so lucky to have it! :)

          Reply
      5. Some Sort of Management Consultant

        People never recognize me – I seem to have a very changeable face depending on hairstyle, makeup, glasses/no glasses and just… day to day for no reason. I do make an effort to appear similar in situations like the OP describes but beyond that, there really isn’t much I can do.

        I actually got a pixie cut for this exact reason: there are rather few dark haired women with pixie cuts in my country but I still can’t prevent people from not recognizing me.

        Basically, I hope you’re not implying you would penalize someone like me for that? or the OP? Like, what standards of recognizing someone do you have?

        Reply
        1. Some Sort of Management Consultant

          And if you expect to recognize someone, what would you have someone like me do? I can’t help that I’m just not recognizable. Believe me, it’s quite annoying for me.

          Reply
        2. Mints

          Ha, me too! But I usually joke that I would be a good drug dealer and/or CIA agent because I put on a blonde wig and it’s suddenly “I’ve never seem this woman before in my life”

          Reply
      6. Fergalicious

        I interviewed with long bleach blonde hair pulled back in a bun and started with a red pixie cut. It was a non-event.

        Reply
    3. Justme

      Curly hair is more often read as unkempt or unprofessional in business. Yeah, the “hair thing” is a big deal.

      Reply
      1. JD

        I wouldn’t flinch if someone showed up curly hair rather than straight. People who have curly hair sometimes straighten it, pretty normal. At most I find that men find this a lot more fascinating than women, the straight to curly transformation. Most women wouldn’t even bat an eye. The saved head part I think is the only thing that might surprise someone but I don’t read it as a problem in that culture.

        Reply
        1. Ramona Flowers

          With respect, if you don’t have curly hair you may not realise that this is very much not universal – in my experience people do bat an eye, including women, particularly if I’ve previously straightened my hair and then show up with curls. But the reaction tends to be because they assumed my hair was naturally straight and are surprised, and curious about which is my natural hair, not because they object to me changing it.

          Reply
          1. sacados

            Omg, so true! I have naturally curly hair that I tend to straighten a couple times a year when I’ve got a fit of whimsy and boredom on a not humid day. And I tend to keep the style for a few days to make it worth the time and effort.
            SO. MANY. COMMENTS. Invariably of the “oh my gosh that looks so good, why don’t you have it straight all the time?” sort. :-/

            Reply
            1. curly sue

              Same. I’ve gotten “you look so professional today,” after coming in with the rare blowout, when the clothes and makeup are the same as ever. It’s the worst.

              Reply
              1. Sheworkshardforthemoney

                My daughter and her daughter are Curly Sues. My daughter is used to the curly hair and gets a blowout for special occasions. Her kid on the other hand loves them and has them at least once a week.

                Reply
            2. AvonLady Barksdale

              Haaaaate that. I used to get a blow out every couple of months. I can’t straighten myself at home– too frizzy, I need an industrial strength drier, too much a pain in the tuchas. I guess people thought I looked so horrible on a “normal” day? I went curly for good a few years ago (only two blowouts in four years).

              Reply
            3. tigerlily

              I have the opposite problem. I have naturally curly hair that I straighten constantly. I almost never wear my hair curly. If I mention that my hair is curly, people usually don’t believe me. I got my hair cut one time and went in with straight hair because that’s how I’d done it the day before, and when I mentioned to my stylist I had curly hair, he didn’t believe me until he’d washed it and the curls came out. But inevitable, the few times I do wear it curly, people gush over it and tell me the curls are so beautiful and ask why don’t I wear my hair like that more.

              Reply
              1. Elizabeth H.

                Same. I have wavy/curly hair (although I have to concede it’s gone back to just wavy since I turned 29 or so. I always prayed that would happen, ha!) and I straighten it every single day of my life. I get much more flack from boyfriends, friends, hairdressers, families about not wearing it curly/wavy than about straightening! I actually left a haircut in tears once because he stylist was so forceful and adamant about how I was “ruining my hair” by straightening it.

                Reply
              2. Julia the Survivor

                That sounds like me because I *love* curly hair and if I had it, I would love it!
                I started getting a layered cut last year that makes my wavy hair curl a little more… better…

                Reply
              3. TardyTardis

                I had extremely straight hair I occasionally got a permanent so it would curl, and that would last for a few months. And then, once I turned 50, my hair became wavy (and totally curly when it’s short–the hair weighs too much to hold a curl much once it’s down to my shoulderblades). It’s probably the whiter hair that is coming in curly (already have two other hair types, thin red and thick black mixed together–I still get horrible tangles in the back of my neck).

                Reply
          2. Emi.

            Wow, this surprises me, because I’ve always thought straight hair looks different from straightened hair. But maybe a blowout looks more natural than a straightening iron?

            Reply
            1. Rusty Shackelford

              Generally, yes, a blowout looks more like naturally straight hair. It’s not stick-straight like you tend to get with a straightening iron. Look at Nicole Kidman or Meghan Markle. (But also keep in mind that straightening with an iron doesn’t *have* to result in stick-straight hair – that’s just a style choice.)

              Reply
            2. tigerlily

              It really depends on the hair. Like I said in a comment above, people who have never seen my curly hair generally don’t believe me when I say it’s naturally curly.

              Reply
          3. CMF

            When I was a teller at a bank, they refused to let me crosstrain as a CSR or take the class to become an assistant head teller/head teller. When I asked my manager, she told me it’s because I look unprofessional and I don’t take pride in my appearance. I asked her to be more specific – I didn’t wear a lot of makeup, but I always looked nice. My uniform was always clean and ironed. I would usually wear my hair in a low ponytail. She insisted I never looked professional, no one could possibly think I did, but couldn’t elaborate on why. One my co-workers was allowed to crosstrain and take the classes for promotion, even though his uniform was usually in some sort of disarray. It took me MONTHS to figure out the branch manager meant I needed to “fix” my curly hair in order to look professional (in my defense, I was like 22, it didn’t occur to me). I figured this out when I came in after a haircut where the stylist blew my hair out straight, and my manager actually took me aside to tell me she was glad I was finally making an effort to look presentable.

            My hair was never out of control. It just wasn’t straight.

            Reply
            1. Allison

              That’s ridiculous. Curls aren’t inherently messy or unkempt, as long as you’re keeping them neat there shouldn’t be a problem.

              Reply
            2. JessaB

              I hate that curly hair is a thing, but your manager was a total jerk. It was obvious, you as much as SAID so, that you didn’t know what they wanted you to change. It was up to the manager to TELL YOU, not to blow you off with “you’re not being presentable,” and giving you zero guidance on what presentable means when asked.

              Reply
              1. CMF

                Right? Like, I remember I got new shoes, because I thought, “oh, maybe she doesn’t like my flats, I’ll start wearing heels!” I even started wearing my hair down more, even though I HATE it and prefer my hair off my face, because maybe ponytails were the problem. (in retrospect, that probably made me look “less presentable” from her perspective, but I was grasping at straws and she was so confident that my unprofessionalism would be obvious to me if I just took the time to evaluate my appearance.) Finally, I concluded she just thought I was ugly and preferred keeping me in the drive-thru where fewer people could actually see me, and that’s why she wasn’t able to comfortably tell me what I needed to do to get any sort of promotion. But even that is ridiculous because how was I supposed to fix that?!

                She was a terrible manager in other ways, but this was the way that upset me the most.

                Reply
            3. Lala

              Your manager was an ass.

              I seriously hate that people with curly hair get grief for it–it’s just so stupid. It’s hair. It’s bonkers to me that so many people seem to think curly hair is messy. As someone with perpetually flat, limp hair, I’ve always been envious of people with curly hair, ’cause I’ve always thought curly hair looks so much better.

              Reply
              1. Matilda Jefferies

                Me too. I once spent the better part of a day with rollers, mousse, a diffuser, and everything else I could think of to make my hair curly for a party that night. Only to have someone say to me “I like your hair! Do you ever straighten it?” >:|

                Reply
              2. CMF

                When I was growing up, I wanted straight, thin hair, and I never wanted it to be the color that it was (a really pretty brown), and my mom was constantly telling me people spend fortunes trying to make their hair look like mine. I definitely sometimes wish it was not so thick and not so curly, but I appreciate now that it’s easier (with patience) to make my hair look how I want it to look than to make other people’s hair look like mine.

                Reply
                1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego (formerly Floundering Mander)

                  Arggh, my mom used to tell me that too, when I felt like I looked like some sort of overgrown poodle. Maybe somebody would spend money for that but not the kids at school who made fun of me!

                  I wonder if people who think curly is unprofessional are even self aware enough to recognize what it is they don’t like.

          4. Aislinn

            Yup. My natural hair is big with loose waves, and not even really curly, and I’ve had people assume I just didn’t brush it when I didn’t straighten my hair. I can only imagine how it is for women with super curly hair.

            Reply
        2. Gaia

          It is great that you wouldn’t, but enough people do that it is a major issue for a lot of people. Not only for folks like the OP but a major group where the “hair thing” is a big issue is black women. They may feel they need to alter their hair for an interview to read “more professional” than their regular or natural style and then feel uncomfortable returning to their “norm” when starting a new job for fear it will be read as unprofessional. While my issue isn’t so complex, I also experience this problem. I have very, very fine hair which is nearly impossible to style and within about 5 minutes of brushing begins to look unkempt. So it is also pulled back neatly into a low bun for interviews so I look pulled together but I don’t like wearing it like that every day because it gives me headaches. I have received actual feedback that I need to do something different with my hair because it doesn’t look professional (I am not client facing) on more than once occasion. And the question about the buzzcut on a woman? Yea in a lot of offices a full buzzcut would be a big no no for a woman.

          It is stupid, of course, because hair doesn’t have any impact on competence but hair is just one of the many ways women are judged in the workplace that men are not (as often).

          Reply
          1. JD

            I find it impossible to buy that people get bent out of shape over curls vs straight. Regardless of what is being said I just am never going to buy that. Many women straighten their hair, fact of life. I really am seeing way too much emotion behind the response to my comment that I (ME) would not be shocked to see someone with straight hair show up with curly. Sometimes I feel people just want something to over think.

            Reply
            1. jd

              You may find it impossible to believe, but that’s your hang-up. Other people have experienced it as true. Being judged based on something that *should* be as trivial as hair is scary, so getting emotional about it is not surprising. Your lack of empathy is your problem, not a sign of something wrong with other commenters.

              (I just want to be really clear to other commenters that I’m a different jd.)

              Reply
            2. MsSolo

              Am I right in thinking you’re picturing a white woman with curly hair versus straight? Try the same mental image with a black woman with natural hair versus straight. There is a huge amount of racial prejudice that legitimises itself by claiming natural hair is unprofessional (see also: braids, dreads) and then justifying it by saying it also applies to other people’s curly hair, even though it clearly doesn’t. It drives a massive, world spanning industry shipping Indian hair over to America to use in weaves so African American women can circumvent the hair issue.

              Reply
              1. Runner

                I’m a white woman with curly hair and I’ve hated the last 15 years, where every salon I set foot in insists on using keratin on it and blowing it out straight. And people DO act confused when I wear it natural. (The even more bizarre thing is that spiral perms were A THING before the keratin-blowout era.) And I am also well aware of the natural v straightened hair issue for women of color. My experience is far less intense but, frankly, alarming, and real. (And I can’t believe apparently huge swaths of professionals believe blowouts are what most white women’s hair looks like in its “natural” state.)

                Reply
                1. Humble Schoolmarm

                  I’m also a curly-haired white woman who has experienced plenty of the milder reactions to my straightened hair. I rarely straighten my hair because I think it makes my features look more severe and I like being low-maintenance, but when I do straighten it I get an infuriating reaction like I have successfully made myself ‘pretty’. The first time I did it, at a party in grad school, men who barely talked to me otherwise were stroking my hair like I was a cat. It was really uncomfortable and again, I didn’t have to deal with the added layer of awfulness that is the racial prejudice faced by women of African descent.

                2. Book Lover

                  I am going to get murderous next time the salon does that to me. I say no and they do it anyhow and then it feels like they have pulled out half of my hair and it feels thin and fragile. I hate it. And yes, I do get compliments and still hate it. My normal frizz looks unprofessional according to whatever people have in their minds but that is not my problem as long as I do my job.

                3. Else

                  Same! They always want to do this. It doesn’t even look good! It looks like a Midwestern mom-with-van on me.

                4. anonintheuk

                  So it’s not just here in the UK? My hair is very thick and it waves. I do not understand why salons want it to be flat. Smooth, I could see, but flat?

                5. Julia the Survivor

                  Don’t take it personally. I have wavy hair and only one of the many hairdressers I’ve been to actually hears what I say! They do this to everyone. They’re trained to do the styles that are current at the moment and they apparently can’t/won’t think beyond that.
                  Since I often don’t like current styling, I used to make do with a simple flip cut, sort of like Betty Page but with bangs to the side. It would take a few visits to train a hairdresser to do this.
                  When I started getting gray hairs I wanted to do minimal highlights… The one who did it right was unaffordable. I tried the beauty school, they got it right the first two times. It was amazing how fast that went downhill. I ended up learning to color it myself.
                  After I got my job I was able to afford haircuts from my friend, the same one with good but expensive color, and she is much better at understanding what I want. She’s around vintage style and is able to go beyond the current trends. She likes to work from pictures and we ended up with a picture where I remind her “top layer here, bottom layer there” and she gets it right. Usually.

              2. FiveWheels

                Is this a race related thing, even for white people with curly hair? I’m not American and live somewhere with I would say 95% white population, 5% Asian, and close to zero black. I haven’t seen any anti curly prejudice and if anything people seem to find naturally curly hair impressive.

                Reply
                1. Falling Diphthong

                  I think it’s a melange: part race related, part that if you are the sole example of X that makes you exotic, whereas if you’re one of the 10% that’s X that makes you OTHER and failing to fit in.

                  (My hair is like a gravitational vector alignment system, so I am also impressed by curly hair.)

                2. Rusty Shackelford

                  I have white girl curls and I’ve never had anyone tell me they were inappropriate for my job. I have known white women who got flack because of their curls, but I think it’s often a race issue.

                3. Stardust

                  Same, although the way I’m reading these comments, some speak about literal curls and some speak about a certain strawiness that people with straight hair can have, too; the former I’ve never heard any objections against whatsoever in a professional context, the latter would potentially be read as unpolished here, too. Which is why I wear my hair in a bun–ain’t nobody got time for that crap.

            3. Uh Huh Her

              So you are willing to deny people’s actual experiences that they are sharing to continue investing in your own biased perception? Don’t you think that’s rather arrogant?

              Reply
            4. Mookie

              sometimes I feel people just want something to over think.

              Sure, but it’s the people who police the appearances of women, women of color and queer women in particular, who are doing the over-thinking.

              Reply
            5. Fortitude Jones

              I find it impossible to buy that people get bent out of shape over curls vs straight. Regardless of what is being said I just am never going to buy that.

              Well, women who have experienced it firsthand just told you it happens so buy it. Also, a simple Google search on the topic will also pull up articles about it, especially pertaining to black women actually losing jobs for wearing natural curls in the workplace instead of straightening or relaxing it. Please educate yourself on the topic before stating such things.

              Reply
              1. SignalLost

                Or common black hairstyles being banned in schools, or military regulations that were effectively unachievable for black servicewomen, or white people constantly touching black women’s hair, or the apparently pernicious use of wigs by black women in Hollywood in order to “be pretty” (to white eyes).

                These are real things, with real impact on real people, and standing around saying it’s a reason to get bent out of shape is offensive nonsense.

                Reply
                1. always in email jail

                  ^this. You can easily find news stories of little black girls being reprimanded or suspended from school for wearing THEIR NATURAL HAIR. Insane.

                2. Else

                  Seriously! Okay, you wouldn’t do these things, which is good of you, but just think – how many other shockingly obnoxious or petty things have you seen other people doing that you would not do? I’m betting this isn’t the only one. I’m another person here to say that some people get weird and invested in other people’s hair, and curly hair is generally a target, and I’ve experienced this myself and seen it happen to friends. Some people seem to read curly/wavy/textured hair as being messy or uncared for or weird/wrong/strange, even when its owner has a clearly thoughtful and time-consuming coiffure.

                  I am white and was also incredulous when I found out that some other white people would think it was okay to try to touch black people’s hair, but they do indeed do this. Clearly there is something seriously wrong with these people, but it must be a common thing to have wrong, because there are lots of people who do it. And what is a common thing that we are all familiar with that shows up as a factor causing strange interactions between black and white people? Okay, then. A black friend of mine lost out on a promotion and was dinged on a performance review explicitly because he had “a lack of concern for his appearance” – he was an IT person in a department where most of the men routinely wore khaki cargo shorts and untucked t-shirts, while he always wore slacks and a collared polo shirt. He also wore his hair in short twists – it looked great and clearly took time to care for. What do you think they were picking on there? It wasn’t his polo shirts.

              2. Allison

                I am so sick of telling people about my experiences only to have them interrupt with “No, that doesn’t really happen. Give me a specific example? Well is that really what happened? I think you’re exaggerating” and I literally screamed at the last person who did it because I’m 100% done.

                Reply
                1. Data Lady

                  As a black woman, I find it easier just not to talk at all, because I’m guessing that that’s what people want me to do if they keep shouting down my credibility.

                  If you don’t really want us to shut up permanently, folks, then stop treating us like inveterate liars when we speak about our experiences.

                2. RG

                  Yeah, I’m about to hop on this train too. “I find it impossible to believe” my ass. It happens. Hell, even within the more “liberal” industries like tech, natural hair is still a concern because it might count against us as a culture fit.

            6. Red Reader

              Well, you can just sit there in your wrongness and be wrong, because there’s clearly a whole lot of us here telling you that your “impossible to buy” is our status quo.

              Reply
            7. Natalie

              You know it’s also possible for someone to have a subtle bias or an unconscious reaction, too. This isn’t a binary with only “bent out of shape” and “yay, curls!” as options.

              Reply
              1. Ramona Flowers

                And you know, it’s not me that’s bent out of shape but my bendy not-straight hair. Which people notice when I don’t spend ages unbending it. I’ve had people ask me if I feel more professional when my hair is straight. So there’s that.

                Normally I have wavy curls but when I went to Hawaii, fully expecting to end up like Monica in Friends, I was delighted to find I had amazing ringlets.

                Reply
                1. Windchime

                  My hair always looks awesome in Hawaii, too! It’s kind of wavy here in Seattle, but Hawaii makes it full and bouncy and almost curly.

                2. Julia the Survivor

                  How disrespectful and childish was Chandler saying he couldn’t take her seriously because her hair frizzed? She was still the same person! Hair is not that important in a good relationship.
                  The only time it should be a concern is if unkempt hair indicates a person isn’t taking care of themself, is crisis, or something like that. Unfortunately most things aren’t as they should be.

            8. Falling Diphthong

              I find it impossible to buy that people get bent out of shape over (noun). Regardless of what is being said (by people who have experienced exactly this) I just am never going to buy that.

              This is a weird thing to say.

              It defeats the purpose of reading internet comment threads, if you can’t accept that your experience is not universal.

              Reply
            9. Rusty Shackelford

              I find it impossible to buy that people get bent out of shape over curls vs straight. Regardless of what is being said I just am never going to buy that.

              Even though what is being said is “this is a true thing that happens to me?” Interesting.

              Reply
            10. Marillenbaum

              That’s quite nice for you. As a mixed-race woman with very curly hair, it is a thing, and it is a thing I’ve experienced. You choosing not to believe my lived reality will not change that fact. End of story.

              Reply
            11. Jam Today

              People are not hired for, or lose, jobs because of their curls. This problem is particularly acute for black women. It is well documented, with plenty of first-person accounts, so asserting anything to the contrary is simply calling all of those women liars. Nicely done.

              Reply
            12. JB (not in Houston)

              As the comments here show, it is definitely a thing. And as a white woman with curly hair, I concur that it is definitely a thing. People do tend to default to thinking that straight hair is “professional” and that women who don’t have straight hair who wear natural styles look unprofessional. And for black women, it’s beyond being “a thing”–they have historically faced real discrimination. You might try doing some actual research on the subject before you take such a strong stance on it. You could start with reading “Hair Story: Untangling the Roots of Black Hair in America” by Ayana Byrd and‎ Lori Tharps.

              Reply
            13. Not a Morning Person

              I agree that is is shocking that other people put so much emphasis on straight hair vs. curly. And I hope that is what you mean by not buying that it happens, but it is absolutely a thing. I have observed that curly-haired discrimination before. Former company VP said out loud that people with curly hair must never use a brush…because, of course, brushing your hair will make it smooth and straight NOT! His wife and daughter had perfectly straight hair that never looked like they had a hair out of place. He made a point of telling people with curly hair that they needed to brush their hair. Sad but true, people still believe stupid things and say them out loud and use them to judge others.

              Reply
              1. Observer

                100 strokes a night, no less. Preferably after your bath.

                Yeah, I know. That’s the WORST, but I cannot tell you how many times I heard that as a kid. Including from people who SHOULD have known better!

                Reply
            14. Observer

              Wow.

              Are you really saying that all of the women here who are saying that they were given this kind of feedback are making it up? Specifically, are you calling Gaia a liar?

              Reply
          2. jd

            Thanks. I guess I might have to file some places under “I probably don’t really want to work there anyway” and hope it doesn’t screw me.

            Reply
          3. Scott

            Going to have to disagree with you there. Men are 100% judged for not keeping their appearance, including their hair, presentable. I’m not going to argue that it’s not easier for men to do, as it takes me only two minutes, but if I show up to work with messy unkempt hair (which includes not cutting it when it needs to be cut, which is like once a month, at least), unshaven (or untrimmed beard), there’s no way I’ll be perceived as competent or professional.
            Regarding the full buzz cut, it’s a big nono for men too. It’s perceived as having little to no pride in your appearance. The obvious caveat is balding men, but for them, a full clean head shave is the norm, and there’s not much they really could do in lieu of that. *knocks on wood*
            I’ve never heard of curls being considered unkempt, but that might be my ignorance since I am SUPER attracted to woman with curly hair, to the point my girlfriend straightened her hair on our first date, and when she found out I preferred curly hair, she pretty much stopped straightening it . Wouldn’t bother me if she straightened it, but apparently it’s a lot of work, and she’d rather leave it curly anyway, but she originally thought it looked better straight.

            Reply
          1. Myrin

            Yeah, I didn’t get the sense that the curls by themselves are something the OP worries about, they’re just another thing that adds to the overall different-looking image – she even says she feels uncomfortable “not because my hair is curlier than the blowout let on, but because I have a side buzz that was 100% covered up by the blowout”.
            Let’s not get into the meat of curls vs. straight when that isn’t even the OP’s problem.

            Reply
              1. Mookie

                Well, an objection to a side buzz in the environment the LW describes would be really weird, too. The “clean” sides of a short-back-and-sides have never been characterized as unprofessional in my lifetime, ditto mullets and most fades. Maybe it’s the asymmetry people might object to.

                Reply
                1. Fortitude Jones

                  Yup, in OP’s case, I don’t believe her hair will be a problem since she said the dress code is very casual at this company. Also, since she’s not coming in as a lower level employee, but as a VP, she may have even more leeway with how she presents herself in the workplace.

                2. Knitting Cat Lady

                  That could be a gendered thing.

                  And I’ve known people who object to asymmetric cut with side buzz on the grounds of being too punky.

                3. Emi.

                  Yeah, a side buzz is pretty punk. It’s a deliberately edgy haircut, and that’s what might raise eyebrows. (I agree that it’s probably fine in a jeans office, though.)

                4. Risha

                  Well, I mean, it is (as she noted) a very common cut for LGBT women. I agree that it’s unlikely to be a problem in a jeans-wearing office, and that she should keep her hair like she likes it for now. But it’s not like it’s never been an issue for anyone.

      2. Alternative person

        Yeah, I once got dressed down by a former boss for having unprofessional hair (his exact words) when I had a ponytail with a parted fringe. I have thick, curly, frizzy hair which I do maintain and use anti-friz and smooth down/redo the ponytail throughout the day, but there’s only so much I can do between high humidity and air conditioning without paying for expensive treatments or straightening it for an hour every morning. This was, the focus of the meeting, he had literally no other issues with me or my work and no-one had said anything about my hair to him. My co-workers thought it was a power trip (which was true to type).

        That company eventually used it as one of the reasons they decide not to renew my contract, despite there being no follow up or comments on the issue from anyone else (one of the other reasons being I wanted more money and a title change commensurate with all the work I was doing but that’s another story).

        Reply
        1. Gaia

          Wow.

          Unprofessional hair? Did it not get along with coworkers? Show up late? Miss deadlines? How is hair unprofessional!?

          Reply
        2. Tuesday Next

          Ugh. This reminds me of the manager who told someone that her maternity clothes were unprofessional and expected her to wear things that were clearly impossible, like belted pants.

          Reply
          1. blackcat

            I’m really hoping for an update on this. I was so sure the boss was setting up a case for getting around anti discrimination rules for firing her.

            Reply
        3. OP1 Side shave

          Once my current CEO told a colleague to “go home, and brush your hair next time” when she dared to wear her hair curly to a client pitch. This was moments before walking in the door.

          Her curly hair is neat and “tidy.” Hair is definitely a thing, especially for women, and ESPECIALLY for WOC.

          Reply
            1. Karo

              Right?! I’d be tempted to come in with brushed hair next time and see what he says. (It would probably be something along the lines of “AHHHHHH!”)

              Reply
          1. Observer

            Good heavens, what an idiot! I can see why you want to get out of there.

            If I were on that team I would be FURIOUS that he’d pulled something like.

            Reply
    4. Mookie

      The haircut is about comfort, not fashion.

      Using a subjective gauge (whether aspects of one’s appearance are ‘functional’ or not) to determine suitability in a workplace will not end well or produce fair results, and will probably favor some classes over others.

      Also, I’m confused, because you mention in the previous paragraph that your haircut it “partly for aesthetic.” Which is fine. My point is, there’s nothing inherently objectionable in people expressing personal style (provided it doesn’t sharply deviate from workplace norms or become a distraction or liability).

      Reply
    5. FiveWheels

      I’m a cis straight woman, I work in A VERY conservative office, and when I started the job I had very short hair. Most people probably thought I was gay but it had no negative effect with clients or colleagues.

      When I had short hair I was often focused for a teenage boy (lol) but now it’s long nobody gets confused. This strikes me as bizarre, but such is life.

      Reply
  10. Chocolate Teapot

    5. Are the dotted line employees all part of the same team(s)? If so, what about a communal gift such as a tin of festive biscuits or chocolates?

    Reply
    1. MCMonkeyBean

      My manager works remotely and was only recently promoted to manager, but has always been pretty conscientious about trying to be part of the team even while living a few states away. She always sends one of those big popcorn tins to our team and it’s usually a big hit.

      Reply
    2. IcedTea

      Hi, #5 here. No, unfortunately they’re in a whole bunch of locations. I just got excited about Alison’s new book, because that kind of thing would be perfect, but unfortunately it’s not out until May 2018. So, the bright side is that I know what to send everyone next year. :)

      Reply
  11. WTF

    #1 in addition to personal retaliation be very concerned about company retaliation. I’m sure you have thought of this but he very sure he didn’t leave any back doors into your systems. Since he’s impersonated someone already you need to do a full company audit of accounts. Make sure there are no fake accounts. Do a forced reset of all passwords etc. lock it all down. Hope all ends up well

    Reply
    1. Ainomiaka

      Yes, this is what I was most concerned about. Unless there is more to the story, it doesn’t sound like personal or physical retaliation is how this person operates. But hacking into the company system? Sounds like much less of a stretch from past behavior.

      Reply
    2. Anonymous Educator

      Yeah, people are saying “Change passwords,” but that’s assuming you know all the passwords! If he’s been digging in where he shouldn’t be and impersonating a “consultant,” it’s highly likely he’s created his own backdoors into various parts of your IT infrastructure.

      Reply
  12. Wintermute

    #2– I wouldn’t worry too much about direct personal danger but I would take this as an excellent reminder to review your policies and procedures and make sure that you’re protecting your department and people.
    Given your role and responsibilities I assume you know how to sweep a system and do a security and access audit, but I would point out that a dedicated security consultant could help catch the kind of nasty logic bombs that only a root user could place, and will be familiar with tricks you may not be (tricks like plugging a USB wifi adapter into a hard-to-see back-facing port and using it as a back door, or forwarding a port that is usually used for something innocuous so they can later remote into the system, things that are designed to evade an IT audit by their knowledge of your procedures).

    It’s also a good time to look at your physical hardening not because it’s likely to be an issue in this case, but because it’s something you should have ANYWAY and it may give people peace of mind in this case– taking time to go over your workplace violence plan, evacuation procedure, physical security policies, and so on. It’s something you should do on a regular basis anyway and it being December is just as good a reason as having just canned a vindictive jerkface.

    Reply
    1. JessaB

      Also how they handle physical access are there doors that need to be re-keyed? Just because an employee has turned in a set of keys does not mean they didn’t make copies. And keys saying “do not duplicate,” are easy to get duplicated in some busy hardware store where the person on the machine doesn’t really care nor know about security.

      The only keys I ever had that I could not get duplicated (without going to someone really really shady) were safe deposit box and post office box keys (I mean the boxes AT the post office,) the box at my apartment is no hassle to get extra keys for if you know someone who can actually cut a key beyond put it in the machine and push a button. The blank is no longer used (the boxes were installed pre 1970.) And the current common one is too long by 1/4 inch.

      But make sure your policies at least as far as disgruntled people go, involve changing locks, ensuring the card keys do not work any more etc.

      Reply
  13. Bobstinacy

    #1: I used to take out my piercings and cover up whatever undercut I had at the time during interviews, along with drastically changing my personal style. I would always talk to my manager on the first day and offer to cover/remove anything that they weren’t comfortable with. It went well usually, though some people won’t object when you ask them directly but they will still be a bit weird about it in later interactions.

    I got tired of my personal style being a point of contention so now I go to interviews with everything in the open so that they can opt to not hire me. Luckily I work in an industry and am part of a generation where looking ‘unconventional’ doesn’t impede me in job hunting very often!

    Reply
    1. Gaia

      I think this is very much a know your industry, know your role, know your company kind of thing. I work in a conservative industry but a very progressive company. Outside my company (but in my industry) my tattoos would be a show stopper. It doesn’t matter that I don’t see clients – it doesn’t matter that the only one visible while working is on the inside of my wrist and most people who do notice it take months (if not years) to notice it. It doesn’t matter that it could easily be covered. I’d be shown the door in a heartbeat. That is why when leave this company, I’ll leave this industry.

      Reply
      1. Julia the Survivor

        So, so, stupid prejudice. Your tattoo doesn’t hurt anyone. It’s all about stupid games elites play to find reasons to oppress people. Their industry is losing a good person because of their stupid punitive ignorance, but they probably don’t care.

        Reply
    2. Xk

      I once came in to find my assistant had this very odd face piercing. Turns out she had quite a few but took the jewelry out for work. She went through then with me, I mixed two, but since then she felt more comfortable wearing others on occasion. It does take you aback at times, glad we found a solution.

      Reply
  14. Not A Manager

    OP1 – I would suggest styling your hair to fully cover the shaved portion for your first day and maybe the first week. Then when you do change things up, your boss will already know that you’re capable of covering it for client meetings, etc. Do you need to do a blow-out to cover it? If not, I’d go with the natural curls.

    Reply
    1. OP1 Side shave

      This is another consideration for me, in leui of bringing it up with my manager before the first day. I actually think this is what I’ll do. Thank you.

      Reply
      1. Shamy

        Congrats on your new job and promotion! For what it’s worth, I have a more extreme version of your hairstyle (everything shaved but the top, length just past my chin, like you I have very thick, wavy hair and can cover the buzzed parts if needed) and have had zero issues at work or at interviews. I work in government research, which can be a bit conservative. I think this is a good way to go at it. I even sometimes style it so it is mostly covered with a sliver showing to sort of hint that it’s buzzed. I wouldn’t make a big deal about it, sometimes saying something makes it seem like it should be inappropriate when most people wouldn’t have given it a second thought. I used to have designs shaved into it regularly as well and often had corporate types in public ask to take pictures of it!

        Reply
      2. Mabel

        … silly as it  may sound, this helps me feel connected to my identity

        That is not silly, in my opinion. It’s not a small thing to want to be known as who you actually are. I had a boss once who asked me why it was important to me to be out as a lesbian. I said, “you know how you don’t like it when people assume you’re white?” She got it.

        Reply
  15. MommyMD

    I’d bring up the haircut to the manager before the first day so they don’t feel blindsided like it’s a bait and switch. It’s better to start off knowing if they think it’s too edgy for their workplace. Good luck.

    Reply
    1. OP1 Side shave

      OP #1 here a- this is what I leaning towards doing, but I hesitate making things a bigger deal than necessary or seeming high mainentance off-the-bat. But what I don’t want at ALL is to start off on the wrong foot.

      Reply
  16. Indoor Cat

    OP #1, this hugely varies from culture and subculture, and you know your office culture best.

    There was an issue in my hometown where a local news anchor, a black woman, had a shaved head, and some (presumably white?) viewers wrote in letters saying she looked unprofessional and “too punk rock” and “like a cancer patient” (I kid you not). But the black viewers– as well as other races of viewers who read shaved hair on a black woman as being normal because, you know, that’s been a trendy look since Solange Knowles– were surprised by the shock; shaved hairstyle on a woman was clearly totally professional. Next thing you know the controversy will be over women in trousers!

    Anyway, she kept her hairstyle. I think you should keep yours! There’s nothing broadly unprofessional looking about a side shave or an undercut. People will make assumptions based on their own cultural context, but I think unless you get negative feedback on it, it’s yours to rock. And, heck, even if you do, people who have an initial negative reaction will probably get over it. The drama over the local newscaster’s hair died in two weeks and ultimately viewership stayed the same. You do you.

    Reply
    1. MissDissplaced

      I’d say ‘you do you’, but maybe ease into it a bit. Especially if it’s a more conservative field or you’ll be meeting clients for the very first time. Generally once you’ve proven your work ethic, no one will blink an eye if you are known for your funky hair or clothing styles. You want the focus on your work after all.

      Reply
  17. Wakeen Teaptots, LTD

    Erm, #4 is a little uncomfortable. As a vendor, I wouldn’t be thrilled at being drawn into a I-don’t-know-what-is-going-on-there-internally kind of thing. I don’t want to alienate the boss by appearing to take a side. I can’t really speak freely because if the contact was a mess of a ditz and asked, not putting that in writing.

    What I would probably do is write a warm note of thanks for the business TO the boss, and include a paragraph about how great the contact is to work with, with details. But the manager only gets one paragraph. Not my battle, whatever battle is going on there.

    Reply
    1. Mookie

      I like this solution. I’m just wondering whether writing that note will be regarded as a subtle endorsement for the customer anyway, unless the LW is already in the habit of praising the business. The timing would be a little too coincidental, I think.

      Reply
      1. Wakeen Teaptots, LTD

        I could pick around it carefully, but I’d be careful. (Unless you can figure out a way to get out of it entirely without alienating the contact. )

        God I just want to ship wine on time. Don’t draw me into your dramah. ;)

        Reply
        1. Beatrice

          Would that change if you had specifics you could speak to, about the individual employee making the request? Or if you’d already sent her a warm, heartfelt note of appreciation, and got a “yo, don’t tell me, tell my boss!” note back?

          I agree that a note of appreciation from a vendor isn’t going to carry a lot of weight, especially for a wine store manager, where, conceivably, a bigger part of her job is keeping customers happy and making sales. Plus there’s a conflict of interest because she presumably can tell her staff to recommend a particular vendor’s wines or give them display advantages. The only exception I can think of, is if a big recent deliverable for her had been related to the vendor in some way.

          Reply
          1. Wakeen Teaptots, LTD

            Yeah, there are great customer contacts who make our lives easier and brighten the day. It’s easy to write nice things to or about them (and I hope we are doing that!)

            Our customer is the business, though. We have accounts that I, literally and not exaggerating, opened 30 years ago, with many ensuing contacts. I don’t know what’s going on over there, just don’t put me in the middle of it. Writing a note that could be construed as taking a side in [whatever is going on over there], I wouldn’t do that.

            Reply
    2. Falling Diphthong

      I think it’s weird, but I think it’s weird when companies respond to my using their services by email hounding me (if online) or checkout line hounding me (if in person) to write evaluations. Seems like #4 thinks the relationship is solid enough that the ask isn’t making her write off doing business with them, ergo the person who asked seems to have a reasonable read of the relationship.

      Reply
      1. Wakeen Teaptots, LTD

        This is the reverse. It’s the representative from the customer who is asking a vendor to write something in order to bolster her case with her boss, the ultimate customer. A vendor doesn’t belong in the middle of all of that.

        Reply
  18. StudentPilot

    OP1 – I have a sort of cross between a Chelsea (shaved head with bangs/fringe) and a faux hawk – both sides of my head are shaved, I have long bangs/fringe, but the hair on top and in the back is quite short. (I also ger designs shaved in on one side) I work in a “jeans can only be worn on Friday’s, business casual” government office, where I deal directly with clients…. and no one has said anything. When I interviewd it was just before getting my hair re-done, so the shaved bits were not noticeable. I think you’ll be fine. And congratulations on the job!

    Reply
    1. OP1 Side shave

      Thanks for your reply. The side shave is an issue in my current position, which I think is pet of where my anxiety comes (and is also part of why I’m leaving – my current company has gotten increasingly stuffy over the past year or so, to a point where it’s caused many people to leave).

      Admittedly my current company is no jeans, much more conservative, but it’s obviously causing lingering anxieties.

      Reply
      1. SallytooShort

        Congratulations on your new job! It sounds like this is an awesome and much needed change for you.

        It’s normal to be anxious but I really think it will be OK. If your new company is sane the fact that you care enough about how something like your hair will impact them is way more important than any actual hairstyle.

        (Also, I love the side buzz!)

        Reply
      2. Escapee from Corporate Management

        OP1, I can see why you’re concerned, but please don’t transfer your issues with current employer to new employer. You’ve already done the right thing in identifying a company that appears to be a far better cultural fit. If you’ve read them correctly, you should be able to speak with your new manager and get an honest answer your first week.

        Reply
      3. Julia the Survivor

        Another example of stupid prejudice causing a company to lose good people. Haircuts don’t hurt anyone…

        Reply
  19. always in email jail

    I think contacting a manager ahead of time to say “heads up my hair changed” would be a bit odd. Wear in the first day and get a feel for the reaction. If it’s anything less than 100% enthusiastic, just say “Don’t worry, I can cover it for external meetings!” and move on.

    Reply
  20. Hiring Mgr

    On #2, so if I understand this, the former IT director submitted an invoice for work that nobody asked to do, under a name that nobody had heard of? How did he think this would work?

    Reply
    1. Falling Diphthong

      “The waves of geniusitude coming out of this invoice are so strong… so compelling… must pay twice…”

      Reply
    2. SallytooShort

      I had to read that a few times to get it. Yeah, that is really off the wall.

      And he risked a whole year’s pay to do this scam?

      Reply
      1. Observer

        Well, he obviously didn’t think he was taking a risk. But, then again, he apparently hasn’t gotten the memo that his bosses are not quite total idiots. Remember, he got fired for abusing his access.

        Reply
      2. fposte

        I can only think that he planned to submit these regularly, so it wasn’t risking it on a one-off but on a regular diversion of money. Or he’s rock-stupid; either choice may be correct.

        Reply
    3. CAA

      When he was IT Director, he probably had purchasing authority up to a pretty high amount. He likely expected that the new IT Director would assume it was a project left over from the previous guy and forward the invoice along to Accounts Payable for payment. It might have worked.

      Instead the new guy asked for the work product and old guy had to send in the documents and that’s how they found out that consultant is really old guy.

      Reply
      1. Fiennes

        They might want to audit the books for any previous “consultancy work” — it’s possible this guy did this before, as a theatrical form of embezzlement. While he was employed there, he might’ve been able to work around the kind of reviews that caught him last time.

        Reply
      2. LBK

        Personally, if my predecessor had been fired for malfeasance I think one of the first things I’d do was audit his spending – blindly approving all ongoing costs would most definitely not be one of my prerogatives.

        Reply
    4. Marthooh

      It was a subtle ploy to siphon money out of his old company, one drop at a time. He thinks he’s that much smarter than anyone else.

      Reply
  21. Rusty Shackelford

    #1, I have those damn spiral curls that people used to pay good money to get, but I wear my hair straight pretty much all the time (some of you hate keratin but IT IS A GODSEND as far as I’m concerned) because my curl is uneven now, and because my round face looks better with straight hair. I don’t think either your curls or your side shave are unprofessional at all (unless, as others suggested, your hair is hitting on the receptionist or getting drunk at lunch). However, if I were in your shoes, and theoretically I could be (minus the side shave), I’d wear the same hairstyle on my first day that I wore at my interview, just because I’d feel weird showing up as basically a completely different person. And I say this because people sometimes literally do not recognize me when they’ve never seen me with straight hair. Basically, I’d want everyone to learn my face before I made a drastic change to that key bit of recognizability, you know?

    Reply
  22. nnn

    Sneaky option for OP#1, if the nature of your hair permits: Can you wear another different hairstyle, that isn’t the same as you wore in your interview but acknowledges elements of your interview hairstyle? Do you have enough hairstyles in your repertoire to gradually transition?

    I don’t know from curly hair with side shaves, but, with my own hair, I might wear a French twist in the interview, then a braided bun to start with, then a topknot, then a ponytail, then a half ponytail, then long.

    Obviously, you shouldn’t have to do all this work, but it would be a way to address your uncertainty about showing up on your first day looking different and your preference of wearing your hair differently in the long term, without any awkward “BTW, my hair is different” conversations.

    Reply
    1. Else

      Yeah, I think this sounds good. If you got it professionally blown out, for example, maybe do it yourself with a diffuser but don’t try to hide the side shave for a couple of days, then let it go natural. I’m guessing that you choose to do it differently sometimes depending on mood or event requirements anyway.

      Reply
  23. Observer

    #2 I haven’t read the replies yet, so there may be some overlap. But some thoughts for you:

    1. Change ALL of your personal passwords.
    2. Make sure you have really good backups and a good anti-malware and firewall setup at home.
    3. Do the same for everything related to your office network – *Especially any admin level passwords*. If anyone does any sort of remote work, upgrade to a VPN if you don’t have one yet.
    4. Set your system to alert you if there is an attempted breach.
    5. If you haven’t yet, make sure your network provides segregated access and limit the use of admin level password.

    All of this is basic computer security. The thing is that I think Allison is correct that this guy is not likely to be violent, unless you have specific reason to believe otherwise or he has indicated an irrational level of anger. But, he’s also shown that he’s very dishonest and has no compunction to using his access in unethical ways. So, I would not be surprised if he tried to steal from the company directly or through you. The easiest way for him to do that is to compromise your systems. So, lock them down.

    Reply
    1. Roz

      This is great advice. Also, you need to alert management to your concerns. You mentioned outside counsel – if you have any access to counsel, outside or inside, this is something they need to know about so it informs their decisions about whether to take any kind of preventative or reactive action (injunctions, etc.).

      Reply
    2. RVA Cat

      If the OP is worried about personal retaliation, I would also suggest a security audit of their personal network. I doubt this loon is going to physically show up at their home, but hacking is a possibility. My big worry would be that he breaks into your home system and installs illegal content (think stuff involving children) in some hidden directory, then later calls in an anonymous tip to the police.

      Reply
    3. IT is next to HR

      >upgrade to a VPN if you don’t have one yet

      This is lovely advice in theory. In practice, every VPN I’ve worked off of has such a long latency period that in practice, people start saving documents — at least ones they’re actively working on — on their hard drives, and use the VPN only for archiving.

      Reply
      1. LBK

        YMMV, I guess – I work from home regularly and I’ve never had this issue with my company’s VPN. There’s no notable performance difference in accessing the shared drives where all my files are stored from home vs in the office, and some of them are giant 100k+ row spreadsheets.

        Reply
      2. Observer

        That’s not been my experience. And there are some things you can’t do except when logged into the system,so no matter how slow it might be, you HAVE to use it.

        Lastly, even if you wind up with a situation where active documents are being saved on private HDs, you are still MUCH LESS exposed than if your system is open.

        Reply
      3. Cassie

        Yes, I’ve worked with CAD-style modeling programs that become basically paralyzed over a VPN. Freeze and drag, freeze and drag.

        Reply
  24. Sue Wilson

    #2: To get fired and then to submit an invoice for unasked for secret work is so bold, oh my word! It reminds me of that company that was plagiarizing cooking articles from the internet, and then when one person asked to have an article of theirs taken down, the site responded that they should get paid for ~editing~ the article. This dude doesn’t seem violent yet, but I would definitely close down any back ways into your systems.

    #4: I find this a weird request. They’re the customer, I’m not sure what actual responsibilities you would know about to judge? I wouldn’t do it, since you don’t know the context here.

    Reply
  25. designbot

    OP1 this is a question I would have expected to come from someone lower on the totem pole, not because it’s tone deaf in any way but because as a VP you are in the position to determine that it is in fact okay! They hired you for your experience and judgment and if you believe that this is appropriate for your work, well then it is!

    Reply
    1. OP1 Side shave

      Thank you. I think I needed to hear this. I mentioned in previous comments that the hair has been an issue in my current role (a much more conservative culture), which is causing some lingering anxiety.

      Reply
  26. ss

    I don’t think your hairstyle sounds like it would be too big of an issue in an office. One word of caution though…. make sure whatever hairstyle you have on the first day is the one that you want to show up for years on your office badge and as your avatar on internal systems because you normally get that security picture taken on the first day. Many places where I’ve worked don’t let you get it redone on a later date unless your security badge is falling apart.

    Reply
    1. SignalLost

      I damaged my badge recently hanging over a conveyor belt, and they just printed a new one with the same crappy picture they took when I did the hiring paperwork. I don’t expect a professional setup for a badge photo, but maybe don’t take everyone’s picture against the lighting; it makes the photos useless for identification purposes.

      Reply
  27. AMPG

    OP #3: I was able to use salary history to my advantage when moving from a high cost-of-living area to a lower one. Two job offers came in higher than the advertised range after they heard my salary history, which freed me from having to negotiate. I think what helped in my case was that there was only a discrepancy of about $10,000-$15,000 to begin with (15% or so) and I stated in the interview that I understood that the pay scale in this area was different and so didn’t expect my previous salary to be matched. I also had a base number in mind at all times and only applied for jobs that were either advertising that base in their range or that I thought based on the description could meet that base. I did withdraw from at least one application when it became clear that, despite the title being similar to my previous one, the available salary was half of what I had made in the past.

    Reply
  28. Kimberlee, Esq.

    I’m not sure I’m convinced on the answer to #5. I think in a vacuum of other information, it’s fine, but it really depends on how clear the differences are between dotted-line manager and solid-line manager. Some workplaces really aren’t that clear, some are matrixed, and some have a lot of people who really don’t know what the difference is (literally; I know people who could not tell you who their actual manager is). Assuming things are relatively normal at your company, OP, and people know that your direct report is your direct report and everyone else is everyone else, I think you’re good, but I’m wary about generalizing that answer!

    Reply
    1. CAA

      This term is often used in organizations where people report to a functional manager but work on cross-functional teams. For example, all the tech writers in a software company might report to the communications manager, but they get their actual writing tasks from the different product managers they work with. The solid line relationship is to the communications manager who does performance evals and establishes the standards that all written work has to follow. The dotted line relationship is to the product manager who needs to get her new product documented.

      Reply
  29. RedinSC

    LW2, this has probably been said, because there are a lot of comments here, but what I’d do is ask your company for a year’s worth of credit/identity monitoring service. I think if this IT guy was reading exec’s documents, etc, he might also have accessed people’s personnel files in which case, you SSN (if you’re US-based or other identifying information if you’re not) would have been visible to him.
    I think you’re biggest risk is identity theft here and I’d take steps to guard that.

    Good luck, I hope he just goes away, but do protect yourself.

    Reply

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