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The Importance of Professionalism at Work

Why you should cover your tattoos, not talk about them.

My Daughter with a Unicorn Face Painting

A lot of my friends on social media are angry that their purple hair and facial piercings prevent them from getting a job or getting taken more seriously at work. They’re overlooked when it’s time for a promotion or just never called back after the first initial interview. They complain and want to make changes in society or at least make employers more relaxed on this particular matter. 

Pictured above is my daughter, taken at a festival. She had wanted to keep her face painting on forever and I let her have it until the evening of the next day (it was all chipped and sad looking by then). I figured this was a good time to tell her to never, ever get a tattoo that can’t hide behind your dressy clothes. 

I have eleven tattoos and I do NOT believe in tattoos being accepted at work. When I interviewed for an entry-level position for a financial firm, I wore black pants, a long sleeve button down tucked in, and a blazer. Solid colors, minimal jewelry, natural make up, nails trimmed, hair neat, smelling nice. 

Look at some people: 

  1. This woman has on jeans, a dressy blouse, multiple piercings on each ear, nose pierced, a large visible chest tattoo with faded colors and a font that’d be on the album cover of a heavy metal band. She has four rings on each hand, two necklaces, her nails have chipped polish, her hair is in a messy bun, she’s wearing heels that match her blouse, and there is another tattoo behind her ear. She chews gum and checks the clock often, eager to leave. 
  2. This woman has on a pencil skirt, tucked in a solid colored button down, a blazer, and heels. She has a headband, one bracelet, two rings, and one necklace. This woman has her nails done and natural make up, her hair is a natural and solid color. She remembers people’s names well and always has multiple projects going on at once, never missing a detail or deadline. She works late and is always at the office on time. 

Who would you rather have managing your money if you were to invest $500,000? Who would you promote if you were a boss? Whose advice would you take? Who would you rather get to know? Who reminds you more of yourself? 

I understand that not everyone works in the financial industry but this rule goes across the board: if you are an ultra professional with good character, you WILL succeed! 

People notice when you’re the classy one or if you’re always complaining or have a negative vibe. Radiate positivity and professionalism. Dress as appropriately for the occasion as possible... and when in doubt, be the quiet one. Look to the host of the dinner to see what fork they grab or when they put their napkin on their lap if you’re unsure of what’s proper. You need to actually care about what’s proper to prove that you know what’s right and that you’re someone worth listening to. You can’t force change until you’re a leader, and you can’t gain leadership if you’re always complaining about how you’re judged by your appearance. Judging is wrong but if you’re going to be the unconventional, quirky one... you need to be a flawless expert to achieve in both. There’s a time and place for everything. Save that self expression for your trips to the grocery store and look like a professional when at work, attitude to match. 

Don’t complain about how your tattoos hold you back, cover them up with clothes or make up and go get the success you strive for! 

(I am currently a district leader at the financial firm mentioned previously after my employment for one year).