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Monday, November 9, 2009

will tattoos prevent me from getting hired?

A reader writes:

I have a couple tattoos, 2 that are visible, one on my wrist and another on my forearm. They aren't large or obscene. I also have my nose pierced with a small stud. I do have a good job, that I've been at for 6 years, and I got these "decorations" while working here. I am currently looking for a new position and wondered if having visible tattoos will hurt me from getting hired, although they can be covered up by long sleeves. What do you think?

Depends 100% on the company. Some won't care, some will. Some industries would see right past it or even welcome it, and some would frown on it.

Unless you're in a very creative field, I'd cover the tattoos up during the interview and definitely remove the nose ring -- just as part of dressing appropriately formal for an interview.

But, on the other hand, if it's very important to you to get a job where things things don't matter, then you can always keep them visible and assume that it'll be a good screening mechanism for ensuring that you end up in the culture you want. Do you want to work for someone who would have a problem with your tattoos and piercing? If not, take that into account.


Anonymous said...

As a recruiter, I once had a hiring manager who thought a candidate was brilliant - but couldn't get past the fact that she had a small hole where she once had a nose piercing. The candidate wasn't wearing a stud - in fact she hadn't worn one for years - but the HM couldn't stop staring and didn't think she could work with her. Odd. I stayed in touch with the candidate and moved into an internal recruitment role, became team leader - and hired the candidate a couple of years later. She was awesome.

Anonymous said...

I once interviewed a candidate who had a tattoo above one breast. I wouldn't have known that, except her scoop-necked, silk-blend shirt kept sliding down during the interview! I was thinking, if you know you have a chest tattoo to cover, go for a top with a very shallow scoop- or v-neck, or even wear a button-up shirt. The candidate was a total dud anyway (she had the thousand-yard stare of someone who's been in a terrible job for 20 years, and this was just a half-hour interview!), but even if she was really amazing, I'm not sure that my boss would have approved her, because the slowly-revealed tattoo was too distracting. I'm glad my only tattoo is on my back -- no worries about hiding!

HRD said...

Totally agree that it depends on the sector, although my number 2 has tattoos and she has worked with me in a couple of companies in different sectors. But then I knew her and her capability, so it didn't worry me.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the comments, I do plan on covering up my tattoos for the most part, but I would like to be in a company that does "welcome" openness. Great comments Thanks again!

Jonathan McLeod said...

I have an eyebrow ring, and have contemplated whether or not to remove it. For the most part I haven't.

Early in my career, I interviewed at a small web company. I showed up in a suit with a fairly "normal" hair cut. My interview took place at a picnic table nearby the office. Months later, my boss said that if it hadn't been for my eyebrow ring, he wouldn't have hired me (I'm not sure if this was true or not - it might have been).

It is a tough call. Nowadays, I tend to remove it for interviews, but I'll generally try to get a feel for the environment of the company with whom I'm interviewing. Sometimes, it seems appropriate to keep it in.

Anonymous said...

I have a few tattoos and only one is visable (on my ankle). For interviews I make sure I cover it up with a large bandaid and stockings. The situation however is different since on a daily basis it is not a tattoo you will notice so for me it is not even a matter of the company culture.

Anonymous said...

It really depends on the culture of the hiring company. My current employer will not hire anyone with visible tattoos or piercings that are outside the ear. I have been considering getting a tattoo on my shoulder that would only be visible if I wear a tank top or short sleeve shirt, not my work clothes. If it were in a visible spot, I'd get fired.

I personally feel that that sort of rigid policy is unfair. My employer doesn't fire or reprimand employees who have hair colors that don't look natural, who go tanning and look extra crispy, or long elaborate nails. To me, those are as much a distraction as a tattoo or piercing, especially the nails. It also seems like a policy that targets younger employees at the expense of protecting the older ones.

Dataceptionist said...

I have pink hair and I make sure its extra pink when I'm going somewhere like an interview, because I don't want them to think I'm going to change it, or that its a once off thing. I've been asked if its for breast cancer and stuff, I just say I like pinK!

Sean said...

I am a former manager and I wouldn't hold that againist you. In fact, I once had an employee with blue, red and yellow hair! I have two sort of visibile tattoos and my district supervisor never said anything either, in fact he liked seeing stuff like that and he was in his early 60s!

I personally believe it should be againist the law to not hire someone because they have tats. It could be a religious part of their life as well as their own choice. It shows what kind of crappy place to work for they could be if they are that picky!