By law an employer cannot refuse to hire an individual due to their race, gender, cultural background, or religious beliefs. Diversity in the workplace is greatly encouraged. Nevertheless, certain forms of discrimination remain legal especially when pertaining to self expression.
There is currently no law protecting those with tattoos or piercings from being passed over by a company on the grounds of their physical appearance alone. Many individuals with such body modifications view them as art work or as a highly visible sign of an aspect of their personality. Still, many employers filling jobs see tattoos and piercing as distracting and unprofessional.
In many companies a potential employee with wonderful qualifications and an excellent interview will not be hired because of their visible body art. Sometimes this is due to preconceived notions of certain subcultures associated with such forms of expression. Other times, it is simply the fact that the person in charge of recruiting wants to maintain a certain level of professional dress.
When anyone with visible tattoos or piercings is in the process of readying themselves for a job interview, they would be wise to do some research into the company's culture, background, and goals. For example a company hiring construction workers may except the fact that their short-sleeved clad employees may have visible tattoos on their arms, where as an office based company might require the same individual to be clad in long sleeves at all times.
Certain industries, such as those involved in one way or another with the arts, are often more excepting of tattoos and piercings. It all depends on the company in question and sometimes on the style of the tattoo. Where as some companies may not be bothered by a small flower inked on to an ankle, they may not allow tattoos that are graphic or sexual in nature. If one does not know how a company may feel about decorative ink, it is better to be safe and cover it up, rather than regret it latter as they continue to scan the classifieds.
If an individual is against covering their body art, feeling that is hiding part of who they are, they might be better of working at a company that is less conservative.
For those who do not mind hiding their tattoos during the background check process, keeping several things in mind as they plan their clothing for a job interview may help them. If one has a tattoo on their leg or ankle, long pants might be better for an interview than a skirt or shorts. Long sleeves are best for those with artwork on their arms. One might also want to consider removing their piercings or replacing them with clear bars.
For individuals with less easily hidden tattoos, drawing attention away from their artwork is suggested. For example, if one has a tattoo on the back of their hand, they may want to practice gestures that make it less obvious. The point is to allow their prospective employer to get to know them before they notice their artwork.
This is especially important during the interview process as first impressions are made within the first five minutes of meeting an individual. This way, if the tattoo is noticed at a later time, the person in charge of hiring is more likely to judge the employee based on who they are and not by any preconceived notions they have about individuals with body art.