Will my tattoo really hold me back from getting the job I want?

Job seekers can’t do much about the economy, but they can do something about their own behavior and appearance if they want to improve their chances of landing that dream job. The days of companies asking about your last job and your salary history are long gone; now, companies want to know what you can do for them and how you will fit into their company culture from day one.

Getting your dream job is hard

First you need to put together a standout resume, prepare for an interview and ace it, prove your worth in a probationary period, and then possibly deal with a layoff. That’s a lot of pressure on your shoulders! But if you’re considering a career path that is heavily regulated by uniform appearance codes—such as some positions in law enforcement or nursing—you might be worried about how your tattoo will affect your ability to land that dream gig. It’s totally normal for those doubts to be eating away at you during an already stressful process. However, there are several career paths where body art actually doesn’t have much of an impact at all. So keep reading!

Employers can discriminate based on body art

If you want to take on a new career path but don’t know how your current ink will affect your chances, read on. In some ways, it can be hard to believe that companies in 2016 could be so set in their old-fashioned ways—but there is some truth to it. As a general rule of thumb, one of two things usually happens when you show up for an interview with a visible tattoo: You’re either welcomed into the fold (probably if it’s not very prominent) or they ask if you have any other tattoos and ask if you’ll cover them up.

Tattoos do have an impact on certain careers

there are some jobs that definitely won’t hire someone with visible tattoos, and there are certain industries where a visible tattoo could negatively impact an employee. It can be more difficult to get promoted in corporate culture if you have any sort of tattoo, because your appearance is representative of your company’s brand. If a potential customer walks into a meeting with you and sees a huge tribal dragon on your arm, they may not think well of your company for allowing such behavior. They may also think that you lack discipline if it doesn’t bother you to display so much ink at work. That being said, some industries actually do prefer employees with tattoos.

Certain jobs are very relaxed about body art (but they’re rare!)

Today, there are a few unique careers that don’t care about tattoos. These include nude modeling, exotic dancing and some circus jobs. Some people will argue that these career paths aren’t very lucrative or serious, but they are pretty rare exceptions. For almost all other careers, it’s best to keep your body art under wraps as you can’t tell what kind of an employer you might be dealing with until you get an interview and meet face-to-face with them. So if you have any ink at all on your hands or arms (or anywhere else for that matter), you should definitely not show them off until after you have a solid offer in hand from a new employer.

What if you need to conceal your tattoos?

It’s worth pointing out that in most situations, you don’t need to conceal your tattoos. This includes wearing a long-sleeved shirt or high-necked blouse, a dress, or anything that covers your arms and legs. If you need to reveal your tattoos for whatever reason, make sure to schedule an appointment with a dermatologist before applying any makeup products so you know what options are safe for you. [4]

The effect of social media on your career (and tattoos!)

While social media is generally a good way to network and build your professional brand, it can be an ugly beast. Bad mouthing former employers, bragging about weekend exploits or posting risqué photos can undermine what you’re trying to achieve. If you wouldn’t say something in front of your boss (and most of us wouldn’t), keep that kind of content off Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. You don’t want anything coming back to haunt you later when you land that dream job!

Real life stories – how people who got jobs with tattoos fared in interviews, and what happened afterward.

All tattoos are not created equal, nor are all jobs. First and foremost, be sure to check your employer’s policy; some companies have a no visible tattoos policy or at least certain types of ink that are forbidden. And if you work for a large corporation, your individual manager may have stricter requirements than HR—one person who worked for an automotive supply company reports she was not allowed to wear any kind of visible jewelry (including earrings) but her manager did not say anything about her visible tattoos. Another young woman working in marketing wasn’t permitted any visible body piercings—but because they were hidden by her hair, no one noticed them until she went on a sales call with customers and received questions about them.