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Tattoo and the interview process – part deux


Correct tattoo placement for the interview process

Tattoo retrospective

I wanted to post an update to my recent thoughts on Tattoos and the interview process. After further reflection and a bit of insight provided to me by a close friend of a tattooed son and a daughter, I realized that there are some decisions that I am not going to change. Ever. This is not a reflection on the son and daughter or on the parents, but more my communication style and the decision-making process. My parents gave me a lot of advice and asked me to avoid a lot of things growing up. My parents also forbid me to do a lot of things, but I plowed ahead and did them anyway. In some cases the stronger the stance someone took on an issue the more motivated I was to resist or prove them wrong. Bell bottom jeans, a lowered Honda with an oversized spoiler and neon lights, and of course my K-Pop haircut phase. The more they said “no, no, and no”, the more I said, “watch this”.

I knew I took a strong position on the Tattoo and the Interview Process post. It is because I have seen employees in the workplace of ALL ages and generations (including 20 something’s) have negative reactions to body art when it comes to interviews and first impressions. But not just interviews and first impressions.  I have seen people do amazing work, and then a tattoo was revealed and impressions changed completely.  Fair?  Right?  Probably not, but it happens. I was trying my absolute hardest to communicate this and in my effort, some would say I drew a line in the sand. A line drawn in the sand is usually challenge and meant to be crossed. I should have known better. I may have come across so hard-nosed that I lost some credibility. Lesson learned, crow eaten.

In my initial post, my goal was to pass along the negative reactions I have seen behind closed doors time and time again in response to the tattoo and the interview process. As a leader in various HR departments both Corporate and startup, I have been witness to managers going crazy behind closed doors. These are reactions that the candidate will never see or hear about, and reactions that ultimately decline candidates. If someone is considering a tattoo, I will no longer run around with my hands waving in the air screaming hysterically about how this can kill the interview process.  I won’t shriek like a high maintenance woman standing on a chair circled by cheese-eating rodents. Next time, I will just ask that you consider getting your tattoo in a place that will NOT be seen in work clothes. I will actually whisper it so you are forced to lean in closer to me and pay attention.

Here is where I am OK with a tattoo:  inner thigh, your ass, or below your waist. Not on the small of your back – tramp stamp, ass antlers, tramp-too, style. Think about your company summer parties and what you may be wearing. When I say below the waist, I mean think low-rise jeans – below the waist.

Parents may be cringing because we just went from what was thought of as a tasteful and symbolic tattoo to less respectful, and perhaps downright dirty. When we think of a tattoo on the inner thigh, or below the waist, those are not visions of sugar plums dancing through our heads. I realize I am not going to change the decision to mutila. . .I mean get a tattoo, so I want to work with what I may be able to influence. If you are going to get a tattoo and are early in your career, please consider getting it in a place that is not only discreet, but going to be invisible to others that may not know, appreciate, or understand the symbolism or importance of your art.  More than likely, the person that is making the hiring decision or has some influence on your career is going to be an older generation and they may not be as open-minded as you are.

Don’t get me wrong, I would love to get a tattoo myself, but I have seen too many reactions behind closed doors.  In a down economy, hiring manager gets very picky when there are a lot of candidates. The mindset is that “there are plenty of candidates out there, find me someone perfect”.  

So, to the young people I offended in round 1, I sit here eating crow.  Please think “discreet” when you take your seat in that parlor chair.

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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