Career & Coffee

Resume Writing, Job Search, Industry News and Erin’s weekly musings on all things career.

Dressing for Career Success (and what NOT to wear) April 9, 2009

I recently commented on the ‘What Would Dad Say’ (jobdig) website where GL Hoffman wrote the interesting post,  “Someone should Say it, so it might as well be me”.

The post was about Megan Joy from American Idol. GL wonders if she was booted off because of her singing, or because of her arm tattoos. Of course I had to reply to that. What was she thinking? She is a beautiful girl, but has this tattoo that runs the entire length of her arm. If not a career in music, who in the world would hire her? Don’t get me wrong. I think some body art can be really beautiful. I’ve seen some tattoos that have wow’ed me. I remember when I was about 20, my girlfriend and I wanted to get tattoos (this was before all the rage, mind you, so we thought we were crazy rebels!). We had just broken up with our boyfriends and wanted to celebrate our independence, I guess. Can’t remember the exact reason now, except that we wanted to get one. (Young, silly and free).

When I told my open-minded mom this, she said: “Well, as long as you can live with it when you are 80 and it is saggy and faded, go ahead. And don’t forget, if you ever plan on getting a job in the ‘real world’, employers will discriminate against you.”

The last part really hit home. Well, both parts did, but I knew that when I was done with college I would have to go out and get a “real job” and didn’t want to wreck my chances by getting a tattoo where a prospective employer might see it.

Whether we admit it or not, covering oneself with tattoos/piercings/body art DOES affect our chances of being hired. I know I am probably angering some folks reading this, but it’s true. I know that any of my executive clients would think twice about hiring someone with tattoos crawling up the neck or one of those gigantic ear things in their ears. I don’t normally think of myself as ‘narrow minded’, but I know when it comes to appropriate dress in the workplace, we need to be as professional as possible.

True, some companies embrace or support body art, but most don’t. Companies strive to maintain a professional front, so hiring someone with a stud through their tongue or in an eyebrow goes against everything the company is trying to do.

Keep in mind when deciding on your next tattoo that you may end up NOT working at the job you want because of your appearance.

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