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Did My Tattoos Cost Me A Job?

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A modern day issue – especially with the younger crowd: visible tattoos and body piercings. Some we see. Some we don’t. Regardless of the class I’m teaching or my audience – assuming a minimum age of 15 – the question comes up: What about tattoos and piercing? My response: It depends.

Most of the time the question is asked after I’ve talked about making a positive first impressions or in the context of nailing an interview.  Sometimes a parent will ask me about their son or daughter’s tattoos and the ramifications  in relation to interview success. My response: It depends.

Sometimes an individual wants to hear it’s OK that they have every possible visible and not so visible piercing on their body…that I think they will be able to land a job. My response: It depends.

Soemtimes they don’t care what others think or how they are being perceived. Or just maybe they are VERY conscious of how they wish to be perceived, hence the intentionally tattooed neck and/or multiple facial body piercings.

Take a look at NY Knicks Baller J.R. Smith. Do you think he was intentional with his tats as they relates to his image? Yup.

Let’s contrast that with a surprise and very “unintentional” Mike Tyson-stylish Hangover 2 tattoo.

Would you be concerned if you walked into your new doctor’s office to discover that this guy was your doctor? Banker? Attorney? IT Project Manager? Receptionist? Would it be a distraction?

What if he were a musician? Or an artist? Or a hairdresser? Might you expect visible tattoos and/or piercings?

A conservative company that has a lot of contact with the mainstream public might have a company policy about visible tattoos and piercings. Or the management team may frown upon it. If you’re in a more creative and artistic field, that may not be the case. It depends.

A recent post, “Hiring Discrimination Against Tattoos and Piercings,” by Amanda Haddaway on  Careerealism.com states:

“The reality is that hiring managers discriminate and they are totally within their rights to not hire someone with a facial tattoo (or piercing) that they believe would be offensive or inappropriate in their workplace or with their customers.
 
A lot of jobs require employees to be customer-facing and on client sites. Although tattoos and body piercings are becoming more mainstream, there are still many traditional workplaces that favor a more conservative look.
 
In fact, it’s very common for employers to have a dress code policy that may ban visible tattoos and piercings. Many employers also have policies that require employees to totally remove body piercings while in the office or cover tattoos with clothing and/or makeup.”
 

The reality is that hiring managers discriminate and they are totally within their rights to not hire someone with a facial tattoo (or piercing) that they believe would be offensive or inappropriate in their workplace or with their customers.

A lot of jobs require employees to be customer-facing and on client sites. Although tattoos and body piercings are becoming more mainstream, there are still many traditional workplaces that favor a more conservative look.

In fact, it’s very common for employers to have a dress code policy that may ban visible tattoos and piercings. Many employers also have policies that require employees to totally remove body piercings while in the office or cover tattoos with clothing and/or makeup.
Read more at http://www.careerealism.com/hiring-discrimination-tattoos-piercings/#tv6YhJSlWe3DQR6I.99

The reality is that hiring managers discriminate and they are totally within their rights to not hire someone with a facial tattoo (or piercing) that they believe would be offensive or inappropriate in their workplace or with their customers.

A lot of jobs require employees to be customer-facing and on client sites. Although tattoos and body piercings are becoming more mainstream, there are still many traditional workplaces that favor a more conservative look.

In fact, it’s very common for employers to have a dress code policy that may ban visible tattoos and piercings. Many employers also have policies that require employees to totally remove body piercings while in the office or cover tattoos with clothing and/or makeup.
Read more at http://www.careerealism.com/hiring-discrimination-tattoos-piercings/#tv6YhJSlWe3DQR6I.99

Here’s the bottom line: YOU, your dress & your appearance, should never be a distraction from your qualifications and credentials. If I can’t stop staring at your numerous facial piercings during an interview, I most likely am not hearing a word you are saying. Which isn’t fair to you because you might be the most qualified candidate. But it happens. Every day.

Every day people judge you on your image. Tattoos and piercings are just as much part of your image as your hair, body language, choice of words, clothing and what you post for the world to see on social media. Whose in charge of your image? You.

So back to my response: It depends. It depends on the image you want to project. It depends on who is hiring. It depends on your profession. It just depends.

What do you think? What have been your experiences with visible tattoos and piercings as they relate to image- sitting on either side of the table?

Mind Your Manners,

Kelly

 

2 Comments
  1. I am an employer in the environmental consulting field. I hire degrees professionals in the fields of geology, hydrology, soils, etc. Our practice focuses on suburban and rural areas. Our client decision makers generally tend to be late middle aged Caucasian men. While this is changing, change is slow.

    I am liberal,. open-minded and not discriminatory. A abhor discrimination based on physical appearance, inasmuch as I am somewhat overweight and bristle at those who pre-judge me based on that.

    All the same, I cannot help but think about how a tatooed and pierced employee would come off to late-middle aged, old-school stodgy decision-makers. Accordingly, issues like this to give me pause in hiring decisions.

    • Kelly

      Thanks for your insightful comment Mark. You make an excellent point about the perception the decision makers might have in a client/consultant relationship. If they are offended in any way by one of your consultants – whether it be by visible tattoos & piercings or a number of other factors such as the consultant’s attitude, word-choice or knowledge base -it could impact your bottom line. By knowing and understanding your client decision makers, you are better able to hire a candidate that can develop a positive relationship with them.

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