The C-Suite Responds: Are Piercings & Tattoos in the Workplace Still Taboo?

by Evil HR Lady on March 15, 2016

If you ever want to get a job, you can’t have tattoos or anything other than your ears pierced. (And if you’re male, you might want to skip the ear piercing as well.)

That’s the conventional wisdom, right?

And truth be told, it’s still not a bad idea. Unless you want a job where tattoos are the norm, not having a tattoo is never going to hurt you. It’s not like someone is likely to say, “I’d really like to hire Jane to be my new marketing director, but her neck is surprisingly tattoo free.”

But, times, they are a-changing. There are many companies where tattoos and piercings are not going to hold you back one bit.

To keep reading, click here: The C-Suite Responds: Are Piercings & Tattoos in the Workplace Still Taboo?

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

maria rose March 15, 2016 at 7:28 pm

I have some tattoos myself but not enough to be considered heavy, mainly one arm from shoulder to before elbow bend. I had it done to cover a very bad burn scar and I chose what was important to me as I knew it was a permanent mark on my skin. At the age I did it , I was about 50 and I got constantly told that a woman my age should do things like this (considered not proper). The tattoo is beautiful compared to my scar and I get less comments on it than my scar. It is not visible unless I wear a sleeveless shirt (like a tank top) and I don’t wear sleeveless shirts for work. Anytime I have seen people who have visual tattoos, I usually admire their tattoos and then continue the conversation letting them know their tattoos don’t make them different.Unless you’re into full body tattoos, most people with tattoos are ordinary people who have a need to express themselves artistically and most tattoos are not vulgar.

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Charlene March 15, 2016 at 7:33 pm

I agree, Maria Rose! I am 39 and have four tattoos and would probably get more but, due to stigma for jobs, I have to be careful. When I see people with nice ink I complement them as well. It is all about your job performance and abilities, not your ink, in my opinion! Good for you for doing something important for yourself!

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Ash March 16, 2016 at 7:19 am

I don’t think there’s a need to avoid hiring people with tattoos if they are non-customer facing. At previous companies which has been entirely customer facing, a lot of customers have made it clear that they don’t appreciate ink on skin. Clearly, the customer’s beliefs have to be accommodated to as well.

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Ash March 16, 2016 at 7:24 am

Clarifying a few vague points: if you’re in a customer-facing industry like cafes, bars etc, then tattoos probably won’t be a dealbreaker. Sometimes managers even prefer them.

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mer March 16, 2016 at 12:23 pm

Well done tattoos are a beautiful piece of art you have with you 24/7/365. That said, poorly done or poor subject matter tattoos are with you 24/7/365.
I like them, even on women as long as they are well done.
My experience has been the best ones have a story (as maria rose shows), I’ll often make a comment to see if I can find out the story.

As for in the workplace, I’d say it depends on the position and the tattoo, but in general they should be fine.

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CndGrl March 16, 2016 at 9:15 pm

I’m 39 and in payroll & HR. I have 9 tattoos, a few could be visible depending what I wear (and I don’t tend to make a huge effort to hide them, but I also dress tastefully and somewhat conservatively at work). I also have an eyebrow ring, a nose ring and a few earrings. I have never had a problem getting jobs. I have never had negative feedback from anyone about my tattoos and piercings – I’ve actually heard positive feedback about the tattoos, and how the piercings actually suit me.

I find some people can look off putting, but most tattoos I’ve seen are quite beautiful. And what’s on a person’s skin shouldn’t be a reason to judge their capabilities and intelligence, but sadly it still is in a lot of places.

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Elizabeth West March 17, 2016 at 2:59 pm

I have two and I’d like to get more–though I chose to put them in places where they can be easily covered. By and large, I never cared much if anyone had a tattoo. But the artist quoted in the article makes a very good point–when you choose something that’s highly visible, you make a decision to draw attention to yourself. There’s no way people are going to NOT notice it, even if they like tats.

I also notice a lot of younger people getting tats that they obviously didn’t put much thought into (subject matter, or they couldn’t afford something quality). Since you’re kind of stuck with it and removal is far more expensive than good ink, I would urge them to take their time about getting one. 🙂

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Ed Holder March 17, 2016 at 10:28 pm

I am 46, work in corporate finance for an insurance company, and have several tattoos that peek out if I’m wearing short sleeves. All of the (relatively few) comments I’ve received have been complimentary, although of course I have no idea what some people might really think about the skull that ends just above the outside of my elbow. At any rate, I try to remember to wear long sleeves in situations where appropriate, and maybe I’ll get my company’s logo inked on my neck with this year’s bonus.

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