Do Employers Still Care About Tattoos and Piercings?

Many career counselors still tell their clients to avoid adding any body art they can't cover up for a job interview, but every time you see a news segment on a creative industry, half the people on the screen are covered in ink and flashing bits of metal. What gives?

tattoos at work 

(Photo Credit: Support Tattoos + Piercings at Work/Flickr)

In part, it depends on what industry you're in. Jen Denis, senior art director at a Philadelphia-based ad agency tells Yahoo! that her tattoos are a "non-issue" at her office.

"It's not expected that I have a conservative appearance," says Denis, saying that her company's culture "not about who we are or how we look."

Other companies view tattoos and other body modifications as a plus. One CEO tells Fox News that "allowing body art can be a boon -- it attracts young workers that may not feel welcome in more conservative environments."

So When Is Body Art Not OK at Work?

Obviously, if you're hoping to land a job at Goldman Sachs, a neck tattoo is probably not going to enhance your candidacy. In general, in fact, it's better if you can cover your tattoos and piercings if needed -- not because the body art itself is an issue, but because your choice to add something you can't disguise says something about your ability to think about the future.

"Potential employers don't necessarily prejudge based on visible ink and extra orifices," writes Jessica Sager at The Grindstone. "But they do often think they're a sign of a lack of foresight. As long as people in our parents' generations are still working, showing up to a job interview with 'THUG LYFE' or a totes unique Chinese symbol or huge gauges in your lobes may be considered a sign of disrespect -- or of someone who doesn't think too hard or too long before they leap."

Tell Us What You Think

Do you think employers judge prospective hires for things like tattoos and piercings? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.


  1. 4 joe 05 Oct
    I agree with the article. I have tattoos but they are discreet when I want them to be. I think peoples appearance is a reflection of their decision making abilities. We are all basically walking billboards advertising ourselves to the rest of the world and workplace.
  2. 3 Linsy 17 Aug
    I find this super offensive. I have 9 fairly large tattoos on my body. 3 of which you cannot see. The others can be covered up but I feel I shouldnt have to cover myself as if ashamed of something when I am not. I go to a very good artist that you have to schedule months in advance (plenty of time to think about your choice and "future" as this article puts it) All my work is custom and well thought out and one of kind art work. It is not offensive or crude and I personally think artist nowadays if you do you research are amazing tatooers. I have had retail jobs, worked alonside doctors for years and have worked in manual labor no of these jobs were affected by me having tattoos. Its it old simple minded way that needs to die off just like the generation as a whole who is against it. Those same people are fighting LGBT rights, those same people are fighting race equal rights and also womens rights. WE AS A PEOPLE need to evolve already.
  3. 2 Gina 17 Feb
    I don't think the way someone looks should have anything to do with jobs, why can't someone with a 'respectable' job have tattoo's, ink under the skin doesn't make you a bad person, it doesn't take anything away from someone's character. You're not less smart or less beautiful, less trustful or honest if you have tattoo's. You have to be incredibly small minded to think that. Just because I chose to have a piercing or tattoo it doesn't mean I shouldn't get the same opportunities as everyone else, a person can choose their religion and what they believe and that's pretty similar to choosing a lifestyle of tattoo's, it's just more prominent when you can see it on someones skin.
  4. 1 pete 30 Jun
    The problem is that, lets face it, 99% of tattoo artists are no Leonardo da Vinci and so most peoples' decorations are fairly crude pieces of artwork that simply cant compete with the fundamental beauty of the unadorned human body. Thus they are almost always a negative, certainly once the initial thrill has worn off. Those who dont welcome tattoos in the workplace are almost certainly reflecting this position, even if they're doing so subconsciously.


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