Visible Tattoo

I love this look. Not sure about  the hiring managers and VP’s.

HRNasty’s stance on the visible tattoo 

If you have read this blog for any time you know where I sit on the topic of the visible tattoo in the workplace. They call them job stoppers for a reason and as much as I think about getting a tattoo myself, working behind the HR kimono, I know  what I know. I increase the chance of limiting my career with a visible (visible in work clothes) tattoo. When the economy was weaker and the job market was bleak, I blogged about the visible tattoo here and here.) My stance then and now is specifically around the visible tattoo. What I mean by “visible” is that is if your manager or VP can see your tattoo during work, after hours or at a company picnic, I believe their impression of you will change.

Disclaimer 1: In Seattle, it is a candidate driven market and with the right skills and presentation layer, a tattoo isn’t going to get in the way of an offer when the role of interest involves little public interaction (E.G. Software developers typically have little outside customer facing interaction). If the market were to turn where employers have more candidate choices, candidates will want to create the best possible first impression. 

Disclaimer 2: I and Mrs. HRNasty just spent the 4th of July weekend with a family we like and respect. The father is the CEO of a technology company and the daughter is one of the smarter social media marketers I know and employed by a market leader. I am generally not a tattoo person, but she rocks the ink well and if I could get her help on a social media campaign for this blog I would do it in a minute. She is an exception not a rule, so I know success and the visible tattoo can coincide. The below is for the rest of us mere mortals.

Visible tattoo insight:

I recently attended a luncheon and I don’t say the following to brag, I say it to make a point of reference. The table consisted of:

  • Two C – level execs / founders of successful technology companies
  • 1 business owner of a successful boutique marketing firm representing national brands
  • 1 older gentleman who makes a living in equity markets
  • 1 older gentleman who looked like a blue blood banker

To give you some more perspective on how they represented themselves, the 2 C-levels were in high-end jeans and graphic t-shirts. If you saw these two guys on the street with a tattoo, it would not have surprised you. The owner of the marketing firm specializes in representing progressive technology companies and he was in dress jeans and a button down with no tie. The two gentlemen wore blazers, button downs and cashmere sweaters. These last two gentlemen represented what this HR guy would stereotype as “Blue Blood”. There was no visible tattoo at this table. 

Again, I don’t mention the above to brag because I don’t know how the f#&! I happened to be at this table. This was a table of Sr. business leaders who make hiring decisions and in most of the cases have the final say on promotions and raises within their companies. They also have the final say on whether or not someone is going to be given the thumbs up to join their executive ranks within their respective companies. Our table conversation was wide and deep ranging, from politics to the climate of venture capital to sports. Interestingly, the topic of tattoos in the workplace came up, and I didn’t start it. I literally just sat back and listened because I wanted the unfiltered version of what these guys thought. I wasn’t surprised by their opinions; I was surprised by the passion showed on this topic. Heels were dug in deep, and I don’t think any minds were going to be changed.

The boutique marketing firm dude talked about interviewing a nanny for his child. The thought process that these execs held was fascinating to me, and I felt worth sharing because this is a rare glimpse into an actual discussion that takes place behind closed doors. Picture a group of Sr. leaders in the executive bathroom who think their conversation is private. This is fly on the wall stuff and the kimono is being pulled wide-open.

Marketing exec and tattoos

Boutique (marketing) Firm Dude found himself looking to hire a nanny for his little one. He and the Mrs. BFD had heard great things about a particular nanny, met the candidate in person and both really liked her. They ended up declining here because she had a shaved head and a piercing in her lip. Yes, there was a visible tattoo.

The decision was made because they didn’t want their little ones growing up with this particular nanny and wanting a shaved head or face piercing. If you were like me, you are asking, why would a 2-year-old want a shaved head or a piercing? Mr. BFD gave specific examples of how he and Mrs. BFD came to this conclusion. When Mrs. BFD wears her head in a bun, the kid points to her hair and wants a bun. When Mrs. BFD wears a braid, the kid points to her hair wants a braid. He didn’t want his two-year old taking a razor to her head and trying to pierce her lip. I get it, monkey see monkey do.

C-Level technology leader and tattoos

After this C-Level Number 1 added to the conversation.

He and his S.O. attended a wedding. They saw the groom and liked him, and said he was very personable guy. The thing with groom boy was that he sported a Mohawk, a piercing in his face, and his last name was tattooed into his forearm. My immediate question was tres fold:

  1. Mohawk to a wedding?
  2. What level of intelligence needs a reminder of your last name?
  3. Short sleeves on your wedding day?  

CEO #1 went onto explain that later that evening he turned to his 15-year-old daughter and explained:

  1. “If you meet someone with a Mohawk, you need to wait 1 year before you marry him.”
  2. “If they have a piercing in their face, you need to wait 2 years.”
  3. “If he has a tattoo of his name on his arm, you need to wait 4 years.”

Technology founder and tattoos

C level #2 doesn’t have kids, but in a prior life was a bartender and in a band. Very high odds this guy sports ink (a prison tat isn’t out of the question here) but it wasn’t visible and even he joined in on the Mohawk beat down. He then went on to say “Don’t people realize that they are going to live a destitute life and limit their options if they have a tattoo that can be seen in street clothes?” This rant surprised me coming from a brilliant software architect and CTO of the start up community. 

Executive banker and tattoos

One of the Blue Bloods brought up the fact that he saw a bunch of lifeguards that had tape on their bodies and then learned that these were covering up tattoos. I realize that Pamela Anderson has tattoos and is a lifeguard. Of course I would totally be down if she were the one to bring me back to life. The point is that this guy took notice of the tattoos and leaned more to the dis approve vs. “approve” side of the fence.

I don’t want to be all negativity and mayhem. If you were planning on going into the hospitality, entertainment, or the food industry, I would say that these industries have not only accepted the visible tattoo, these industries embrace it. Starbucks recently gave the OK for their barista’s to sport ink. A few more verticals where I think the visible tattoo in the work place are acceptable are positions where work is done online and there is limited interaction with the public. Ink is becoming more acceptable within the developer and maker communities and I am to the point where if I don’t see dyed hair, piercings or ink when interviewing a UX or UI candidate, even I will raise an eyebrow. Bloggers and a number of marketing verticals would fall into the same category. Tattoos are an extension of this individualism and brand.

Again, I know a number of successful individuals who rock the ink very well. They are also VERY good at their jobs, have incredible reputations within their communities and are not ass holes. My point is that the visible tattoo can make a first impression in a job interview and stacking the odds in our favor can be accomplished by getting a tattoo in a discreet location.

People will tell you how they really feel when you remove the tattoo. This one is temporary.

If you are thinking about getting a visible tattoo and worried about impression in the workplace, look into temporary tattoos like the one above. You will have the option of finding out how your manager and VP really feel about your tattoo when it is later removed. 

If you are still with me, thanks for your patience. I wanted to share what I thought was a unique discussion that I would imagine would only happen in the executive bathroom or dining room. This is exposure that candidates may not have insight to. This was a private conversation amongst peers and outside of the workplace. I am pretty sure if you were to ask any of these individuals within the confines of their workplace if the visible tattoo had any influence in their hiring decision, they would say “it did not have any influence on my hiring decision”.  
See you at the after party,

nasty: an unreal maneuver of incredible technique, something that is ridiculously good, tricky and manipulative but with a result that can’t help but be admired, a phrase used to describe someone who is good at something. “He has a nasty forkball”.

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Re-apply for the job

Lack of chemistry doesn’t usually change on the second date

Should I re-apply for the job after being declined?

I receive the above question often enough that I thought it would be helpful to share it more widely. Awhile back, I received the following question via a comment from one of the posts and after answering, I emailed the reader and asked if I could share her experience via a blog post. The reader was gracious enough to say yes. Thank you AF.


I applied to a position with ABC Company about 8 months ago. I went in for 2 rounds of interviews and met with the team and HR VP. However, despite getting a positive feedback from the hiring manager, I didn’t get the job. I was told there were other candidates that were more qualified than me. Couple of weeks ago I noticed the same position with ABC Company is available again and re-applied. A recruiter quickly reached out to me for a phone interview. However, when the recruiter called, she said she didn’t realize I had already interviewed for the same position in the past. And because of that the hiring team felt no need to bring me in for an interview, as it would be pointless. Nothing about the position has changed and I would be interviewing with the same people. I understand her explanation, but fear I may be at a disadvantage compared to those currently interviewing for the position.

I still have contact information for the hiring team I interviewed with 8 months ago. Is it acceptable for me to reach out to them via e-mail, just to say hello and put my name out there? I want to re-apply for the job. Can I say I’ve previously interviewed for the position and am still very interested in offering my service to the company? What can I do to increase my chances of being hired for this position the second time around? Thanks AF

My answer is below:


Sorry to hear that you were declined on the initial position. My short answer is that I would not reach out to the recruiter or the hiring manager. We don’t have anything to lose if we reach out, but let’s not be surprised if we don’t ever hear back. If we were declined in the past, they are probably not going to change their mind. If the recruiter explained that we shouldn’t apply, then they were being really nice by giving you the heads up. Remember, the goal of the recruiter is to fill the position and if they thought we were a potential “butt in seat” and could fill the position, they would have encouraged us to apply.

HRNasty dating analogy

If we go on a first date and the chemistry isn’t there or there isn’t a fit, a second date is probably not going to prove our initial instinct wrong. If we have a bad first date, we generally don’t even think about giving Mr. or Ms. Wrong a second chance. You of course are gracious, got milkshake and schkills so of course he thinks the date went really well and sends you a text for a second date. We do one of two things: 1. Not respond or 2. Be very slow to respond and explain “Sorry, I am busy”. Even if we hooked up on the first date because of physical chemistry, if the emotional chemistry isn’t there, we don’t call back and let the texts and phone calls go un returned. Yes, things may change on Saturday night at 2:00 AM after a couple of bottles of wine, but you get where I am coming from.

He of course texts you a third time (Remember, he had a great time. You got game and milkshake so naturally; he thinks the date was a success.). You on the other hand will probably roll your eyes and not respond. If he were to text you one more time, you will be on the phone with your BFF and in an annoyed voice ask “Why is this guy still trying to hook up with me? Doesn’t this guy have a clue? (Uhhhhgggg and big sighhhh). Yes, first world problems.

First interviews are similar. If it was decided there wasn’t a fit / chemistry after the first cycle of interviews, unless the hiring manager is “Short handed in the department and really needs headcount” aka. 2:00 AM on Saturday night, he or she isn’t going to change their mind. We do not want to be hired under these circumstances. That first impression (we are just a booty call) will be VERY hard to overcome with the hiring manager and the rest of the team.

Dating and interviewing are very much the same:

  • Both involve two parties trying to make a love connection / hire.
  • We can be someone else to get through the first couple of dates (interviews) but in the long run it will end badly because facades just won’t last. This will end with a break up / being fired.
  • Dating doesn’t work when there is no chemistry. We are going to spend a lot of time together so we gotta’ be sympatico.

Real life example number 2:

The last time I and Mrs. HRNasty sold our home, I had the same conversation with our real estate agent that all sellers do. We talked about the selling price of the home. I wanted to sell for 1.10X and the agent wanted to sell for X. I suggested a compromise and said let’s try it at my price 1.10X and if nothing happens, we drop the price. (Yes, I did read Malcom Gladwells theory on real estate agents and commissions.)  

Her response made a lot of sense. She explained that we do not want to take a chance of the home appearing “shop worn”. We don’t want to signal to the buyer that we had to drop the price 4 months later because that will signal to everyone know that we were not able to sell and there must be something wrong with the house. Last years model, summer clothes on sale at the beginning of fall, and day old bread. We listed for “x”.  

If we interviewed 8 months ago and re-approach the hiring manager there are a couple of things going on with this specific relationship:

  1. If the job description didn’t change and / or we did not update our skills or change our personality via therapy, what didn’t work then probably won’t work now.
  2. We can look shop worn to the hiring manager. We haven’t landed a job so the hiring manager is thinking “Other hiring managers passed as well. It was good I trusted my gut and passed on that candidate.”
  3. We do not want to force this relationship. Just like the hiring manager wants the best fit possible, as the candidate, we also want the best fit possible. We are looking for the best possible fit in our LTR’s and the hiring process holds the same attitude.

I know it is tempting to reach out to the hiring manager, and in all honesty, we have nothing to lose. But I wouldn’t expect a response from the hiring manager or the recruiting department. Sad but true.

If we are REALLY interested in the position and get the “We really liked you, but we had a lot of interest in the position and found a candidate that was perfectly qualified”, then follow-up and keep in touch with that hiring manager and try to build a relationship when we are first declined. Not months later when we see the position reposted. Share the hiring manager’s LinkedIn posts, retweet their tweets on Twitter. These types of engagements don’t require a response from the hiring manager AND it shows we are still interested. Over time, we can build engagement by sending them articles of relevance to the job, company, or industry. This is what will gain the hiring managers attention. Our parents told us that their generation would show up at the employer’s office everyday to show the hiring manager they were REALLY interested in the position. The semi stalking online approach is the year 2015 version of showing up at the loading dock every day and asking for the job.  

See you at the after party,

nasty: an unreal maneuver of incredible technique, something that is ridiculously good, tricky and manipulative but with a result that can’t help but be admired, a phrase used to describe someone who is good at something. “He has a nasty forkball”.

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