Good or bad? How to make a favorable one...
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Good or bad? How to make a favorable one...
According to Laura McMullen of US News and World Report, it is important to consider the industry and your potential job. Here is what to take into consideration if you're job searching and sporting body ink and/or piercings:
"On paper, your résumé shows the perfect job candidate. On skin, your arm shows an anchor, some flowers and a cursive quote. For your interviewer, these two displays may give mixed messages. But it's not like your interviewer hasn't interacted with inked up folks before. Given the statistics, there's a good chance she's sporting a little something under her sleeve, too. A 2014 NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll of 1,000 adults asked if someone in their household had a tattoo. In 1999, 21 percent said 'yes.' In 2014? 40 percent. In fact, a 2012 Harris Interactive poll shows that 1 in 5 U.S. adults is tatted. So tattoos are no big deal, right? And, if that's the case, is the traditional advice to hide them for interviews as dated as the shoulder pads in women's power suits?
Well, it's complicated. In fact, the answer is as ambiguous as the mistranslated Chinese characters inked on your cousin's arm. In the Harris Interactive poll, 27 percent of the respondents without tattoos said folks with tattoos are less intelligent (ouch), and half said they're more rebellious. In a 2011 CareerBuilder poll (the most recent one on the topic), 31 percent of nearly 3,000 hiring managers said they would be less likely to promote someone with a visible tattoo, and 37 percent said the same for piercings.
What does all this mean for you, the anchor on your arm, the – oh yeah! – ring in your nose and that job interview next week? Here are a few tips to consider, from Tonya Wells, author of 'What to Wear to Your Job Interview' and president and executive recruiter of Ally Resource Group, and Diane Gottsman, national etiquette expert and owner of The Protocol School of Texas: Consider the industry and role you're pursuing.
If the position is in a typically conservative industry, such as accounting or banking, cover your tattoo for the first interview, Gottsman and Wells advise. While there are exceptions – Wells says Bank of America, for example, has a very welcoming tattoo policy – consider this step a precaution. That tattoo is more likely to worry employers, too, if you're applying for a customer-facing position, such as a salesperson, customer service representative or a health care provider. Even if the interviewer is fine with tattoos, she has to consider that your potential customers, clients and patients may not feel the same way.
Don't worry as much about hiding your ink if you're applying for a job in a creative industry, Wells says, 'because there are already probably a lot of people within that company or department who have tattoos, too.' Disclose that you have a tattoo if you hide it for the interview. Say you decide to hide your tattoo for the interview based on the type of industry or role you're vying for. Good call. However, if the tattoo is inked in a spot that would probably be exposed in day-to-day work – your arms, for example – bring this up when the interviewer asks if you have any questions.
Wells suggests saying something like: '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?' This cover-and-tell strategy works for multiple reasons. For one, by covering it, you're avoiding the potential distractions or perceptions it could rouse. 'That way, it doesn't become the sole source of your conversation,' Wells says. Plus, by disclosing the tattoo, 'you show integrity,' Gottsman adds.
Say you show no sign of ink when you interview for that customer service job, and then after you're hired, you arrive to work sporting short sleeves and an outline of your home state on your forearm. That's not a good start: You may already be breaking the company's dress code policy, and you invite your interviewer to ask: 'What else was she misleading us about?' Lastly, disclosing a tattoo you suspect may be an issue helps you determine if the position is a good fit for you. As Wells puts it: 'Do you really want to work for a company where you have to cover it up all the time?'
Don't let piercings distract your interviewers. Wells and Gottsman say the same advice for tattoos generally goes for piercings, too: To cover or not depends on the industry and role; your interviewer should know if you plan to wear a bar through your eyebrow at work; the acceptance (or lack of it) is an indicator of how you will (or won't) fit into that company's work culture.
But here's a difference with piercings: Unlike most tattoos, the piercings interviewers worry about are typically right on candidates' faces. Regardless of whatever opinion an interviewer has about piercings, she'll focus less on your brilliant industry insights if she can't stop staring at your septum nose ring. She'll reflect less on your merits and more about what your earlobes would look like without those inch-wide gauges. And as for that tongue ring ... Wells recalls the many people she's interviewed with ball-shaped studs in their tongues: 'I try really hard to focus on their eyes, but it's so hard not to stare at their tongues with that little ball,' she says. 'It's like a little bouncy ball going back and forth, and I just can't keep my eyes off it.' Do you want your interviewer to remember how passionate and smart you are – or do want her to remember your tongue? Do what you can to minimize the appearance of facial piercings, because as Gottsman puts it: 'If it's a distraction, it's an issue. It's just like wearing two different colored shoes.'"
So the current consensus on tattoos and piercings still appears to be that they can a distraction during an interview and a detriment to your potential hiring unless you are applying to an "artsy" position. "Out of sight; out of mind" is still the best advice. However, be sure to inquire about the dress code during the interview
before allowing your "body art to do the talking at your interview."
An experienced educator and entrepreneur, Janie Ziemba has spent more than 25 years as a teacher, writer, and editor in both the academic and business