Wednesday, February 15, 2006
The Yarmulka Dilemma
I'm a second year law school student, it's the middle of February and I don't have a job for the summer yet. No big deal, I'm not really worried, there's plenty of time.
I just managed to get an interview with a mid-sized firm that I really, really want to work for. But then my thoughts drift to the round circle of felt that is on the top of my head. It's so difficult to a good job, do I really want to lessen my chances by wearing my yarmulka?
The funny thing is, this has never before been an issue for me. Before law school I always wore my yarmulka on job interview- from the DA's office one summer to a plumbing supply company I once worked for. I'm not self-conscious of my yarmulka at all. Last year I got accepted to every summer job I interviewed for except for one- a frum judge in Manhattan who doesn't wear a yarmulka.
But now the stakes are different. I really want this job. And yet I also want to be able to wear a yarmulka at work, but I think it's wrong to not wear one on the interview but then show up to work wearing one.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to hide that I'm an Orthodox Jew on the interview, my resume clearly says that I spent a year in yeshiva in Israel. I don't think that law firms don't want to hire Orthodox Jews. But for some reason, many law firms don't like hiring Orthodox Jews who wear yarmulkas- it's too in your face, too much "look at me, I'm an Orthodox Jew!" I'm guessing that many firms wouldn't be too thrilled if someone showed up wearing a six inch cross around their neck or a turban on their head.
I had an idea though- Since elementary school I have always worn a velvet yarmulka. Now I'm thinking that for the interview I should switch to a suede one. Yeah I know that hardly anyone outside the Orthdox world knows the difference between styles of yarmulkas but I just think that suede looks more professional and less in-your-face.
Would I then switch back to velvet once I got the job? I'm not sure.
I don't know, that's just my thoughts.
Outside of NY, definitely NOT.
I used to think a lot like you do. I went to every interview wearing a yarmulke. Lots of warm and fuzzies during the interviews. Few call-backs.
People who were very positive over the phone were suddenly giving me the cold shoulder.
Now, this was in the Midwest, where I was definitely a fish out of water.
I think if I had to do things over, I would have interviewed without the Kippa.
My 2 cents.
I think its accepted to do either one. And both sides can find support, be it the acceptance of religion in general or the minhag of a yarmulka for all day every day being only a couple of hundred years old.
Let us know what you do
I was in your shoes, and came to the conclusion that I wouldn't wear one. I got my dream job at a huge NY law firm, landed two clerkships, and then a job at a prestigious DC law firm.
Would it have hurt my chances at a big NY firm? At the end of the day, probably not. One of my classmates was Chabad, and got a job at the firm with a huge beard and a yarmulke much larger than I wear.
Years later (and I do mean years) I made partner at a smaller DC firm. I decided that I had nothing to hide any more, and was finally comfortable wearing one at work and uncomfortable not wearing one.
I'd say, tone down the yarmulke and go with either a plain black srugah or suede. I think the srugot stick out less than the suede, but it doesn't matter much either way.
I don't think you can go bare at the interview and then show up with one the first day of work. That will just tick people off and start you off on the wrong foot.
My recommendation, as someone who went through something similar, is to wear it. It most likely won't make any difference.