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How Tattoos and Body Piercing Affect Your Career

Job Websites Making FunBody art is everywhere and most people can name at least one person they know who has some kind of body work done. People with tattoos work in a variety of industries and hold entry-level jobs, as well as, top executive positions. Based on the number of new tattoo parlors and the number of people getting tattooed, this trend doesn’t appear to be slowing any time soon.

So, is body art a workplace issue? Does having a visible tattoo say anything about an individual that is relevant to his or her job?

According to survey, 85% of survey respondents believe that tattoos and body piercing impede ones chances of finding a job. They asked a few questions including:

1. Do you think that tattoos and/or body piercing hinder ones chances of finding a job? 85% answered Yes and only 15% - No.

Some of them left interesting comments:
  • “If you don’t have any tattoos or piercing you are more marketable.”
  • “It depends on the industry.”
  • “They won’t hinder ones chances as long as the person is smart and keeps them in places that an employer cannot see.”
2. How do tattoos and/or body piercing affect the opinions of co-workers and employers? Hinder said 64%, No Effect - 34% and Helped – only 2%.

  • “I know it hasn’t helped, however my job performance speaks for itself.”
  • “Regardless of who the REAL person may be, STEREOTYPES associated with piercing and tattoos can and do affect others.”
3. Do you conceal your tattoo(s) and/or body piercing(s) when at work? Yes – 53%, No – 47%

  • “I wouldn’t get tattoos that couldn’t be covered.”
  • “It depends on the job. At my day job in finance I keep my tattoos concealed. But at my night job as a booking agent I show them off.”
Reactions to tattoos in professional situations seem to be highly dependent on the specific industry and the employer. Even though tattoos are becoming more acceptable in the workplace, there are still some customer service industries that are concerned that employee with tattoos can affect their business (for instance, in retail they may startle children). These types of businesses should have a policy on tattoos and body piercing where they clearly explain the company rules. Employers with dress code or other grooming policies should review their policies frequently and make sure all managers are consistently enforcing the policies.

Can employees be forced to cover their body art during their shift? Talar Herculian, partner in one of the nation’s oldest and largest employment law firms said: “Yes. There is no right to expose your tattoo at work. However employers should be careful to apply their policy consistently to avoid the appearance of discrimination based on a protected category such as gender, race or religion. For example, if you require only men to keep their tattoos covered but allow women to keep theirs revealed because you think the women’s tattoos are not as offensive, your practice may be challenged as gender discrimination.”

When you are going to a job interview we recommend you to cover up tattoos and remove body piercing when interviewing. While dress codes have loosened, companies still expect candidates to look professional in an interview.

That is not the only reason why candidates should cover up their body art when interviewing; you do not want to distract an interviewer. People want interviewers to focus 100% on their qualifications and not be taken aback by their appearance.

While we should expect body art to gain further popularity and acceptance, we should remember that it does affect getting a job. So it is best to think twice before having it done. While times are changing not all things have, so plan your future body art. If you are entering a career field that recognizes and even appreciates artistic expression, you probably don’t need to worry about it. However, if you are applying for a customer service job, for example, it would be prudent to keep your artistic side to yourself.
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Tags: work-discrimination, interview-tips, career-advice, appearance
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  • There is also the issue of permanent scarring. Obviously the larger the piercing, the greater chance for permanent scarring and disfigurement. This problem is especially acute when the piercing is done by an inexperienced practitioner who bumbles the job, or if the piercing tools are dull or contaminated.

  • Sarfraz

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  • Thrash 2210

    I personal worked at a store where the nose stud was acceptable yet I had to put my septum ring up in my nose while I worked. So while the other girls had their little stud in the nose and a tounge ring mine couldnt be visible or I would of been sent home. While I went along with it because I needed a job I did not agree. Is that discrimination at work? I think so. Basically saying only some piercings are acceptable as for the not so normal septum ring in a girl is not... I come from an area where Im more of an outsider than anything with my "unusual" piercings. I now work at a auto parts distributing center where any piercing or tatt is acceptable. Everyone has different view points on everything that is what makes the world I am not religious yet I dont look down on those who believe in god. So dont look down or judge me because I have a septum ring or the bridge of my nose pierced. That is who I am I get a rush getting pierced. The rush may have to do with the fact I am also a cutter. I have been since I was 12 and am now 22. As I said we are all different in this world and should all be accepted. I am an excellent hard working employee I am intelligent dont judge me for my piercings my personal expression of art.

  • BxL

    Becoming a judge will not allow me to use any kind of body piercings even though I wanted to pierce my ears a couple of years ago. My girlfriend has a nose piercing. Since I can't pierce my body, I started to dislike her pierce too.
    Read more about nose piercing here .

  • Smith

    There are plenty of industries where body modification is still not aceptable but every year the door opens a little wider to people who love to add art to skin. I found this article that has a list of over 100 jobs for people who have tattoos they can't cover up. There are a ton of good ones.

  • demji

    I always find the comments about how some people are "put-off" or "repulsed" by tats and piercings interesting, Here's why--and I have to preface what I'm about to say by noting that I'm being utterly sincere, and I apolgize for offending anyone. Most people, if they think about it, can probably find SOMETHING in the relm of human existance that causes their skin to crawl. I personally have three things: elaborate, weirdly braided and lacquerd hair styles (so strange & un-natural looking!)...long fingernails that are polished weird colors and decaled (yuck!)...and high heels--particularly stillettos. (All I can think when I see women wearing them is how much their feet must hurt and the damage they're causing to their feet. And I am, btw, a woman myself).

    And yet... ... do I go screaming to human resource offices across the country that prohibitions must be enacted against elaborate hairstyles, long polished nails, or high heels? No--I don't, because I do realize that fundamentally I'M the one with "the problem" -- not all the people who choose to adopt these styles. At some point--and I started learning this when I was about three years old--you have to stop giving vent to your every primal emotion and reaction, and learn to "put on your big girl (or boy) pants" and act with some self-control, maturity, and dignity. Otherwise you're going to go screaming and careening your way through life about EVERY blessed little thing that occurs that isn't exactly, precisely what you, yourself would do. It seems we have a lot of that sort of reactionary behavior going on when it comes to tats and piercings.

    Just for the record, I'm 50+ and I work in a PK-12 education environment. I have one tattoo on the top of my foot and a nostril piercing. I don't make any particular effort to cover the tatoo-and plenty of administrators, fellow staff, parents and students are aware of it. I've never heard a single negative comment. (It is, for the record an inoffense tat--of a turtle). As for the piercing, I keep a tiny,tiny clear or flesh-colored stud in at work--and I suspect very few people are even aware it's there. I don't draw attention to it--and I've never had anyone make a comment. I did not ask permission to have it done because 1) I figure my school district only has a right to tell me I can't wear a visible piece of jewelry in my piercing--they do NOT have the right to tell me I can not have a piercing done at all. 2) while our dress code advises "professional dress" etc--there is no specifc prohibiting of piercing for faculty and staff. There IS a prohibition for students however--so I'm trying to respect that parameter within my own appearance.

    I'm not going to argue that if a person has extreme tats or piercings--and we have all seen photos of people who have tattoed themselves over every inch of their face & body...or done implants all over their bodies, etc--that there is, probably understandably so, going to be a reduction in job availibilities for those people. Maybe it's not right--but it usually is so. But--to lump people who have a few conservative tattoos or piercings into the "I'll never offer THEM a job!" category is, to me, ridiculous. Personally--as I've already explained--I'd hire a person with a tattoo and nose ring over someone with lacquerd, spikey hair or sporting a pair of stillettos ANY day of the week! ; >

  • jorgealcantar

    tattoos can give a wrong impression, not so much to me, but to others so it would be a good idea to cover up your tattoos during a job interview

  • J. Ross

    I have a tattoo that is easily covered. For one hiring process I went through, displaying my tattoo in a third interview actually helped me get the job. They were happy to see that, though my presentation in the first two interviews was 100% professional and polished, that I also had a lighter, edgier side as well. It fit with the culture of the organization, and they offered me the job.

  • I personnaly had to hire a chemist in a former job where we were manufacturing and distributing sanitary products. I had done a phone interview with the candidate and schedule an appointment to meet him. He was the perfect candidate (on the phone) for the job.
    When he arrived, he had an ear ring. I knew my president would not accept that! and I wanted that guy for the job.
    I told him exactly this: ''You want that job? Take your ear ring off right away''
    He did, he got the job, I was happy and my boss too cause that guy was really competent.

  • Jocko Johnson

    Personally, as a hiring manager, especially in this economy, I can always find equally or better qualified people without tattoos or piercings. I personally find them ugly and disgusting to look at and wouldn't want to have to look at them daily or expect my wide variety of customers to have to look at them.
    I won't eat in a restaurant twice if I have to look at some one with studs in their tongue or other places... yuck!
    Also, it has been my experience with workers that I had with both of these, is if they don't respect their bodies, they don't respect a lot of other things in life either.
    I don't hold military tattoos against guys because I understand these are done out of youth, patritotism and pride in their work.

  • Crissy89

    Just because someone gets a tattoo or piercing does not mean they do not respect their body! A lot of these people admire body modification, like someone getting a nose job, or boob job or lipo suction, its a form of body modification. Are you going to judge these people also? To say they do not respect their bodies? I know people who have piercings and tattoos that work better than people who don't posses these modifications. Piercings and tattoos should not be a reason to judge on someones work ethic. Just because you, yourself would not get any of these modifications does not mean the people who chose so do not respect their bodies, or have bad work ethic. Also, you should not single out GUYS with their military tattoos as "ok" one that is gender discriminating, a female can be in the military and two A LOT of people get their first tattoo out of youth, and sometimes its for remembrance of a loved one, or just some sign they believe in or like. So if you can deal with the men of military and their tats, you should be able to stomach all others.

  • jamieg01

    Your opinion is wacked!!!!!You seem to be narrow minded.. The history of body art came from the beginning of time in many countries and Cultures. I am sure this was not out of a lack of self respect. Have you seen the History channel? Body Piercings are meaningful to many religions, Cultures, and Countries. So because somone joins the military, there tattoos are excused? Because of their patriotic pride? Have you ever thought people (not in Military) might take pride in their personal reasons and display on their bodies the same way one in the military does? So would you rather have a waitress serve your food with cigarette smelling hands or a person with a tat? One more question, are you Mormon?

  • I have 2 tat's that can not be seen unless my shirt is off. I got them while in the Marine Corps (a permanent reminder of a temporary feeling as Jimmy Buffett calls them) - and the Marine Corps refuses certain positions if you have visible body art of questionable taste.

    I had the reputation of a hard-nose manager and the day I went swimming with my team they were shocked when my tattoos were suddenly visible. I don't hide them, but I did choose the location to only be seen if I wanted.

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