Sunday, August 4, 2013

Advice for 'Alternative-Looking' Library Job Seekers

When it comes to dressing for a library job interview, we all know the drill: dress conservatively, cover up tattoos, wear minimal makeup and accessories, and style your hair conservatively. But what if you have pink hair? Or a partly shaved head if you're a woman? What if your ear lobes are stretched by gauges? Or you have tattoos on your hands? What should you, as someone seeking a library job, do?

A pink-haired page shelves books at a public library in Illinois.
Image via

Dress appropriately for the position you're interviewing for, but leave your pink hair and piercings be, said Elinor Crosby, who works at a public library in Nova Scotia. She has blue hair, a shaved head, arm tattoos, and multiple piercings, and she has stayed true to her personal style all her adult life. Considering this, she's been steadily employed for the past 18 years. "The librarian who convinced me to go and do my MLIS insisted that librarians didn't care what you looked like as long as you could do the job, and I have found this to be true," Crosby said in her article, "So You Have Blue Hair," published on

At the close of the interview, let the interviewer know that you're willing to comply with a dress code to the best of your ability, advised Crosby. "However," she said, "I also take this opportunity to explain that this is how I've looked for twenty years, and that it's definitely how I'm most comfortable. I have been told that this approach is very refreshing, and that the people who have hired me appreciate my candor." But what if you feel like you've lost out on the job because you didn't dye your hair back to a natural color or remove your nose or labret piercing? That's probably not a place where you'll be happy anyway.

"I probably don't want to work for an employer that can't see past outward appearances to see the stellar employee that is sitting in front of them," said Crosby. "This is how I screen where I actually want to work."

So what did Crosby wear to the interview for her current position? "I walked in to my interview wearing slacks, a button-down shirt, a blazer, and my bright metallic pink Doc Martens," she revealed. "My outfit showed that I was taking this interview seriously, but I allowed my personality to shine through with my accessories."As someone who nearly hobbled around in conservative black pumps on a job interview - I don't wear high heels ordinarily - I find Crosby's advice and boldness to be encouraging. I'll forgo the Chucks but will shine my Docs for the next interview. And I'll let my piercings and bold hair color stay in!

To read Crosby's entire article, "So You Have Blue Hair," go to the INALJ link HERE.

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