Ok. We are the tattoo generation, right? We love having body art and displaying it. Well, I will say “be careful” if you do have works of art on your body. There are some jobs you can get with them but you won’t be able to move up the corporate ladder. And there are some jobs you won’t be able to get with them, at which point you once again cannot move up the corporate ladder.
A Time and Place
“But I have the right to express myself.” I hear this all the time and, not to belittle your wants but no one cares. Seriously. This is me playing devil’s advocate. I have plenty of intelligent, able friends who have tattoos and they are successful in the corporate world for one reason: they keep them covered up during interviews. The problem with our generation is that too many of us think it’s always a good time to express ourselves. Why do we feel the need to do that all the time? There is a time and place for everything. A corporate interview is never the time. The way businesses think is “This person has promise. I want to invest money in his/her success so that I can get the most out of his/her ability/charisma/et cetera. But if (s)he doesn’t know to come into an interview with this tattoo sleeve covered, what will (s)he do when they have to go meet with a major client?” And they’ve just thought you out of a job before the interview even begins. So get the job with your tattoos covered. Then discuss what is and isn’t appropriate in their culture.
“Don’t Judge a Book…” (But We All Do)
How many times are we told not to judge a book by its cover? How many times a day do we? Even when you say you’re not “judging,” preconceived notions creep into your head all the time. Well, they do for employers and customers as well. And if you’re going to mess with someone’s bottom line (which is the reason they’re in business) then you’re likely going to lessen your chances of getting the job. I saw a quote in the Huffington Post today and a lady said “I do not want my waiter or waitress having body piercings anywhere!” There are people who really do not feel comfortable seeing them. And you could say “Well they can eat somewhere else” but it doesn’t exactly work that way. It actually works in the exact opposite way. “Well you can work somewhere else.” Like I said, I’m playing devil’s advocate.
But I Already Have Tattoos
One of the most successful corporate business to business salesmen I know has quite a few tattoos. And he has for since he was in undergrad. Now, at almost 29 years old, he does the same thing he’s always done: He wears long-sleeved shirts in all business settings. If you don’t know him on a social level, you don’t know that he has tattoos. It is so simple but too often, we’d rather make it hard. It’s not always about expressing yourself. Sometimes it’s about pausing your expression so you can pay your bills.
So go ahead and get your tattoos. Have fun. But be smart about it. Get them in places you can cover up without too much effort (in other words, stay away from hand, face, and neck tattoos please). And when it’s time to handle business, put the fun/unprofessional side away.