Skip to content
September 2, 2016

Tattoos and Piercings – How it Affects Hiring

Tom Ramsey – Total Placement Staffing Solutions

Screenshot_1In a recent survey with hiring authorities, it was determined most employers could tell within 30-90 seconds whether they would hire someone or not. It all came down for first impressions. Appearance accounted for 55% of their decision. Do they look like they can do the job? Do they represent the image we want to project?

While tattoos were a determent, piercings seem to have even more negative connotations. Iowa State University asked older workers and college students to look at resumes with pictures. Half the photos included piercings. Job candidates with piercings were found less employable with younger people having the harshest opinions.

In another survey, when considering evaluations, raises, assumptions about character, and promotions it was found appearance played a significant role. In a perfect world this would not be the case, but people do judge on appearance all the time. Those that say they don’t are lying. Those are strong words, but it’s true.

While people do have the right to do what they want with their body, companies have a right to the image they want to project. If it is perceived tats or piercings will negatively affect business, they have the right to reject it.

While, tattoos may be more socially acceptable today, in-your-face tats are not. In a Harris Interactive pole, almost a third of respondents without tattoos said those with tattoos were less intelligent and half said less responsible. In the most recent poll on this subject, a CareerBuilder poll of 3,000 managers said they were less likely to promote someone with visible tattoos or piercings. So, how should this information be put to use?

Applicants – don’t blame the employer. They did not make you get that tattoo or piercing. Second, consider the type of job and industry you want to work in and adjust. It’s like any game; you have to play to have any chance of winning – so play to win.

Employers – commit to look past the tats and consider their stats. Good workers are more difficult than ever to find and it is not improving. Concentrate on their talent first. Would you consider them if they had no tattoos? If so, how can the applicant, and you, adapt?

Can the tattoo be hidden? Will it show in short sleeves? Does the job require face-to-face contact with clients? Applicants – remove piercings and cover tattoos for the interview. Then, if all goes well, ask the interviewer; “I have tattoos on my arm. What are your thoughts about needing to have those covered up, or is it OK to wear a short-sleeved shirt where they might be exposed?” Be upfront and don’t take offence no matter the answer. Concern for the company’s policies will go a long way to promote integrity. Bottom line – do you want your interviewer to pay attention to you, or be distracted by your decorations? If they are starring at your tattoos, they will not be paying attention to you. How do you want to be remembered?

While things are different these days, the numbers show that visibly tattooed and pierced people are at a disadvantage. Even though it’s not as bad as it used to be, it’s still something both sides of the table can work to improve. Companies need good talent and should attempt to focus on abilities first. Candidates need to be less concerned about rights, and more concerned about blending into a company’s environment.

Both sides need to play the game in order to have a chance to win. Both sides need each other.