What is the impact of piercings and tattoos on your job prospects?

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In recent decades, tattoos and piercings have become increasingly common; whether used as a form of self-expression or in tribute to someone or something, research found 32% of adults in the United States have a tattoo. And much of the popularity of body art has surged over the last decade; in 2023, a Pew Research Center survey noted a 23% increase in those with tattoos compared to 2010.

Just as 8 in 10 Americans believe society has become more accepting of tattoos, workplace consultant and author Minda Harts told People magazine that same energy is carrying over into the workplace.

“In today’s evolving work environment, the perception of tattoos and piercings has shifted significantly,” Harts said, per People. “Many organizations now prioritize diversity and inclusion, recognizing that personal expression through body art does not inherently impact an individual’s professional capabilities or work ethic.”

According to Harts, the COVID-19 pandemic and the emergence of younger generations in the workforce have also compelled a shift in attitudes towards tattoos and piercings. However, some industries remain a bit more reserved toward job seekers with visible tattoos and piercings. As a result, Harts says, “the cultural- and industry-specific norms” will ultimately determine if a candidate can freely display their body modifications in the workplace.

As job seekers prepare for interviews, Harts suggests that they not only research the company’s work and history but also the company’s culture.

“Companies that celebrate individuality often showcase this on their social platforms or websites,” she advised, encouraging applicants to explore company social media pages.

Though a growing majority of companies can no longer discriminate against hairstyles thanks to the CROWN Act, they do reserve the right to implement dress codes. However, Harts emphasized that these regulations must be cited on the company website. If applicants choose to show any body art during the interview process, she advises being prepared to talk about it.

“Always be prepared to discuss the significance of visible tattoos or piercings if asked, framing them as part of your personal authenticity and professional identity,” Hart shared, also noting how companies can’t discriminate against tattoos linked to religious practices.

“Choosing environments where you feel accepted and valued will likely enhance your job satisfaction and professional growth,” she added. “If personal expression ranks high, [job seekers should] target companies known for their inclusive cultures. [They should] reflect on whether adapting to a more conservative environment aligns with your long-term career goals; sometimes, the nature of the industry might dictate stricter norms.”

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