Should You Have to Cover Those Tattoos For a Job?

Last Updated Oct 13, 2010 9:25 AM EDT

Lots of people have tattoos. In fact, even some straight-laced types who you would never expect to have tattoos, have tattoos. And then let's talk piercings: nose, eyebrow, tongue, face and other places. Lots of people have those too. Where I live, nose piercings are extremely popular and hardly considered a rebellious thing to do. (The fastest way to make something not cool anymore is to have your mother do it.)

So, when you're looking for a job, should you cover those tattoos and take out those eyebrow rings?

Well, some people think so.
A tattooed and pierced 23 year old woman in the UK states that she went to a job assistance center and had the following experience:

"The guy said: 'on first impressions do you think anyone would hire you?' He said: 'look at it this way if you were to stand behind a wall - or put a paper bag over your face do you think you would have a better chance?'

"He then backtracked and tried to say that he was sorry and hoped I wasn't offended but I was.

"He talked to me as though I was just going through a phase in my life, but this is my lifestyle choice, and this is who I am."
Now, of course, if this was really the conversation, the employee was not very nice. But was he incorrect?

I don't think so. She stated that this was her "lifestyle choice." Well, the reality is that all choices come with consequences, and the consequence of facial piercings and visible tattoos is that hedge funds aren't looking to hire you.

I think, by the way, that this might gradually change. As more and more people make this "lifestyle choice" it will become acceptable. But for right now, it makes your life much more difficult. Appearance does matter in the job search.

In a discussion about Pharmaceutical Sales reps, my BNET Colleague, Geoffrey James stated gave his opinion about appearance (it's in the comments, so scroll down):
[B]y and large sales people are better looking than other folk because -- surprise! -- they take better care of themselves and understand that appearances are important.
If you want to make the "lifestyle choice" to have facial piercings, I bet Geoffrey will tell you to cross Pharma Sales Rep off your list of future careers. I will too.

So, before you go for a job interview, take a look around at the employees exiting the building at quitting time. If you don't see a lot of tattoos, cover yours up. Or pick a different place to apply.

Photo by Lorena Cupcake, Flickr cc 2.0
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