Top: Anthropologie.... Vest: All Saints.... Skirt: Sunhee Moon....
Bracelet: Leslie Danzis.... Sandals: Camper
Yesterday Sal and I got a great reader question, and the answer I put together seemed like good material to develop into a post. Here's the question:
I have an ankle tattoo and really like dresses and skirts, but am starting the interview process again and am feeling wary of my tattoo showing in my interview outfits. (I feel like my pants outfits are so boring, and I don't have an actual suit for interviews)
I'm interviewing for admin type of jobs. I go back and forth with this, I feel that my tattoos are part of me and people shouldn't be concerned with them, but then I remember that there are a lot of very conservative people out there. I also don't know the dress code rules at the jobs I'm applying for and if they have a "No visible tattoos" policy, I would offend them right off the bat. (although, I probably wouldn't want to work for a company like that)
As you're all well aware, I have some pretty dramatic body art that I display without reserve at work. Of course, I work in a technical job for a company that is well-known for its laid back culture, in a very tolerant and diverse region of the country. But interviews are always a little trickier than the job itself, regardless of the job you're applying for, so it's important to consider a few different factors when determining whether it's acceptable or desirable to show one's ink during the interview process.
Geographical RegionObviously in the super laid back San Francisco Bay Area it generally wouldn't be a problem to show a tattoo for any but the most conservative of industries, such as law and finance. Which brings us to...
The Industry You're Applying To
Again, law and finance are two where visible ink or piercings are likely to be a big no-no. Academia is probably a gray area, and may vary department to department. Tech (and biotech) companies, tend to be more relaxed and in general I'd say that showing a tattoo wouldn't be any big deal, but that also depends on what department you're applying into. The technical departments are more tolerant, while marketing, legal and sales are more conservative.
Company Size and Age
Just like many people, companies tend to get more conservative the older they get. My theory is that a small, young company needs people who operate outside the norm; they're looking for innovators who may carry over their innovative spirit into their personal appearance. As a company ages and achieves success, it wants to maintain the status quo and won't be as drawn to the rebellious entrepreneur types anymore. In general the larger a company is, the more conservative it tends to be as well, for the same sort of reasons. In biotech for instance, I'd dress more creatively and probably intentionally show my tattoos if I were interviewing for a start-up company, whereas I'd go with more traditional dress and possibly cover at least most of my tattoos for a big company like Johnson & Johnson or Merck.
How Strongly You Feel About Your Ink
Personally, I'd never want to work for a company that would have an issue with my tattoos, but take this point with a HUGE grain of salt, because I've also never been unemployed for any great length of time and thus have been able to stick to my guns. Under extreme circumstances I might throw my values to the wind and cover up for the sake of getting a job. Ideally though, I prefer to let people see what they're getting, ink and all, so I make sure to show at least one of my tattoos when I interview. Another point to consider is whether you'll be required to go in for several interviews; in that case you might want to start out covering all of your tattoos, and if you get called back you can ease off little by little and allow some ink to show. That way you don't hurt your chances right off the bat, but you can still remain true to yourself too.
Size, Image, and Placement of Your Tattoos
A small tattoo placed in an inconspicuous area is going to be a lot easier to get away with than a larger tattoo in a spot that people aren't traditionally used to seeing one. For instance, I'm well aware that the tattoos on my upper arms are probably too much for most interviews. Not only are they in a spot that's not often seen on women, they also depict Drinky Crow swilling booze while sailing and subsequently sinking his boat. Not exactly corporate material. Those I would cover up for an interview; the others, most likely not.
Sal has also written about interviews as well:
Corporette has a decidedly different take on ink at the office, which is not surprising given their focus on the conservative corporate environment. But it's worth taking a look at these:
- Poll Results: Professional Women and Tattoos
- Poll: Are visible tattoos ever appropriate for professional women?
Finally, let's hear from you! I'd like to get a sense of how tattoos are handled in different types of industries. Whether you have a tattoo or not, please tell us: what region, industry, and job type you're in; a little about the size, age, culture of your employer; whether you or others you work with show tattoos at work; and finally, if you do have tattoos, did you show them during your interview?