Love them or hate them, piercings and tattoos make a statement about the wearer. In the past, they gave the impression that someone was a rebel or troublemaker. This connotation was a bad omen to the onlooker, but often a delight to the person sporting the body art. Since then, the available range of styles for body art has come a long way in terms of tasteful, elegant, and discreet options. But is this look acceptable in a professional office environment? The answer is: yes and no. It really depends where you work and what kind body art you have.
Does it mesh with your office culture?
Whether you like it or not, obvious “statement” body art still doesn’t fly in traditional, corporate workplaces. In creative industries such as culinary arts or graphic design, body art is more commonplace, and is often seen as a reflection of one’s artistic flair. But legal, financial, and other professional business fields are holding strong to their conservative values. This is because these firms often have older CEOs and leaders who retain traditional values regarding outward appearances. Another reason is that body art can make the wrong impression on potential clients and business partners. Can you picture someone with a nose ring or tongue ring as a mortgage-backed securities broker?
What type of piercing or tattoo is it?
Keeping your favorite piercing covered might not sit well with your desire to “be yourself,” but subtle body art is much less distracting and less likely to garner comments from coworkers. It’s likely that you can find a way to cover your body art or incorporate it into your appearance in a tasteful way. Women can style their hair to camouflage unique ear piercings at work, but still show them off on the weekends. Got an arm tattoo? If you work in an industry that requires business attire, your sleeves probably will cover it up anyway. However, facial tattoos and piercings are much trickier to conceal. So overall...
Think before you ink (or pierce)!
Before committing to a piercing or tattoo, remember that they’re permanent--or at least the holes are. Consider your career goals, and the culture where you live and work. Firms on the west coast often have more casual dress codes along with a more liberal approach to employees’ professional presentation. Although an employer cannot discriminate against you for your body art, it’s best to err on the conservative side to make a good impression. According to our recruiters, while body art certainly doesn't disqualify a job applicant, we always make sure that a candidate's personal style fits a company's culture before we send them on an interview.