by Lauren Hunter, Staffing Specialist, TriStarr Staffing (Yup – she’s on the front lines!)
It seems like nearly every new high school or college graduate hits the pavement with a new tattoo or piercing that’s been deemed the cool new thing to do. I’ve read statistics that say 1 in 4 people has some sort of body modification and in general, society has become more accepting of it. You won’t hear me complain – I think a well done tattoo is a great piece of art and personal expression. But my concern comes into play with people who expect to work anywhere, with these personal choices on full display. They somehow determine that it’s okay to go to work with bedhead and trendy attire, often flashing cleavage, wrinkled pants, and club clothes. Then they go on interviews and seem surprised and indignant even that they weren’t hired, not recognizing that their choices don’t reflect the image the company is seeking to promote. This is frustrating, but it’s “fixable.” Tattoos and piercing are a little more permanent, or at least a little trickier to hide.
Every company is different. Some have very strict rules about how much and what type of jewelry and accessories you can wear. Some say you can wear sweatpants to work (doesn’t that sound comfy!). Often you’ll see guidelines that expressly ban visible tattoos or facial piercings. More often than not, a company will fall somewhere in the middle with their regulations – it often depends on the industry and nature of the company. But those rules and guidelines are there for a reason. People are easily distracted – a visible sleeve of tattoos or a pierced lip could distract even the most focused worker – and have somewhat traditional ideas of what “professional” means, even today. And while one customer may think an employee’s tattoo is cool, another may be much more “old school” and associate it with any number of negative attributes – whether it’s a fair judgment or not.
At TriStarr, we specialize in administrative and office professional positions. The majority of our clients expect us to present candidates that fit their guidelines, not only in terms of experience but in terms of general presentation. For example, candidates for a bank need to dress in suits and ties, with simple makeup and hairstyles, not piercings and exposed tattoos. They don’t restrict tattoos that are hidden – you can ink your body anywhere that can be covered by a shirt and pants. But don’t expect your personal choices to be accepted. You wouldn’t go into an interview professing your religious or political views, so why would you go into an interview with your piercings and ink in all their glory?
Cover it up, people, and if you do chose to flaunt it, pick an industry or field that embraces that creativity. Use the Internet and do your homework to find companies that have a more open attitude to personal body art. And remember: You are there to follow their rules, not make your own. The old saying “there’s a time and place for everything” definitely applies.
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