The Crestiad

Cedar Crest College newspaper since 1923

Tattoos Too Taboo For The Workplace?

Melody Nyoni, Staff Writer

More young adults are entering the work force today with visible tattoos and facial piercings compared to in the past. It is a trend, not marked by rebellion but by general style and individuality. While that bright red heart inked on your neck represents the fire and passion injected into your life, what will it mean to future employers?

When applying for your first jobs out of college, some employers may specify their policies on piercings and tattoos whereas other employers may not. Either way, it is best to go into an interview covering tattoos and removing facial piercing.

“The primary guideline in an interview is to convey your credentials and qualifications, you want to minimize any distractions,” said Julie Ambrose, the interim director of the Career Planning Center. “Tattoos, piercings, fidgeting, oversized jewelry and overpowering perfume may detract from that.”

If you’re hired for the job, make sure to ask what their workplace policy is on tattoos and piercings. Ambrose emphasized the importance for students to research and be aware of their field of interest’s position on piercings and tattoos.

“The overarching theme for students is what image they’re portraying to the public, and that image should align with the industry they’re interested in,” said Ambrose.

Some workplace environments are becoming more accepting of visible tattoos and piercings, while others stay strict to a cover all policy.

“Overall it’s still a no-no, but it’s beginning to soften in some fields like modeling and the arts,” said Cynthia Fulford, director of the Office of Leadership and Student Development. “But others such as politics and finance, it is enforced.”

When you’re entering the workforce, an air of professionalism has to be maintained. Some companies don’t view visible tattoos and piercings as professional.

“It’s still a matter of professionalism. To be professional you have to act and dress appropriately,” said Pamela Kistler, the former department chair of chemical and physical sciences. “Obvious piercings and tattoos wouldn’t be an immediate disqualification but would make the person doing the hiring consider what else they might be rebelling against, so that might detract from their positive qualities.”

Some Cedar Crest students noted the progression in the working world towards acceptance of some, but not all, of these trends.

“Most places are beginning to be more lenient and shifting from the no-policy because that’s the trend, but other professions such as the medical professions are not going to be accepting of that trend,” said Brianna Afflerbach ’10. “Retail might be a bit more accepting.”

“I think it depends on what area you come from. If you are from an artsy area it would be more accepted because artistic people express themselves using their bodies. But in another places like Washington DC, where it’s more formal it might not be as acceptable,” said Brielle Anne Wesley, a junior new media major.

Brittany Dalbow, a sophomore psychology major, said, “I think people have become more flexible in the workplace ranging from both blue-collar and white-collar jobs. I feel as if we’ve become more progressive as a nation and qualifications would trump a piercing or tattoo.”

Still others such as Samantha Huey, a senior biology major, do not believe employers have changed that much: “I still feel like places won’t hire you if you have piercings and tattoos,” she said. “I don’t think it’s become acceptable, yet.”

If you’re entering a career where visible tattoos and piercings are prohibited, make a plan. It might be smart to think twice before getting ink on your wrist or neck. If you really want to make a statement, be sure you can cover it up appropriately. It could be the line between getting your dream job or being passed over.


About Tori Kuebler MS, RDN, LDN

Tori is a Registered Dietitian who has a taste for the quirkier things in life. Hobbies include experimenting in the kitchen and then admitting when she's probably made a mess in the process (there are only so many times someone will believe the dog did it). She lives to give food, and everything else in life, a personality. And loves to eat and appreciate all foods.

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This entry was posted on September 25, 2012 by in Lifestyles, September 27, 2012.
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