should I take out my nose ring for job interviews, and other nose ring conundrums

Two questions about nose piercings at work.

1. Nose piercings and interviews

I have a nose piercing (a small stud) that I got when I was at my last job. I recently left that job and have been interviewing for new positions, but taking my piercing out before interviews – and having to put it back in afterwards – has been a really painful/uncomfortable process. My “better judgment” tells me that wearing a nose stud to a job interview doesn’t give off the best impression, but with all the hassle it’s caused me lately, I’m starting to wonder if it’s really not that big of a deal?

I was especially curious when one of the interviewers at my last interview (at a financial firm) had a nose stud herself! Also, my friends at various professional companies tell me that many of their coworkers have nose piercings too (though they say that it’s better to wear them after you’ve been hired and not during the interview. Not sure how that makes sense, but I’ve heard it a lot). I know it might all depend on the industry in general, but I’m wondering about the average workplace, and if “professional” norms have changed. So what do you think? Is a small nose stud always a no-no at interviews, or have things changed and managers don’t care anymore?

It really depends on your field (and maybe to some extent your geographic location). Some places would be absolutely fine with it and some would consider it unprofessional that you wore it to an interview. Some would be fine with it on the job and still not thrilled about it at an interview, where the standards for professionalism are often higher. (Just like you might be expected to wear a suit to a job interview, even if you wouldn’t be wearing a suit every day at work there.)

Personally, I’d leave it out for interviews. Plenty of people still view facial piercings – even small nose studs — as inherently unprofessional*, and plenty who don’t will still question your judgment for wearing it to an interview. There’s no point in creating obstacles for yourself in this job market.

* This assumes you’re not wearing it for religious reasons; if you were, the above wouldn’t apply, and you’d also have some legal protections.

2. Showing up at work with a nose ring

I was recently offered a new position (thanks in large part to your blog; you rock!). My conundrum is, I have a very delicate septum piercing. I didn’t wear my jewelry to the interview, but I did ask the HR rep who offered me the role if they had any specific rules or regulations on tattoos or piercings. They do not.

For further background information, this is a creative, non-customer-facing role (social and promotional writer) in a fairly traditional field (window treatment manufacturing). I’m wondering if I should alert the hiring manager ahead of time in an email, or if I should just show up on my first day with my regular jewelry in place. This is a piece I essentially wear around-the-clock, like a ring or small, basic stud earrings.

Particularly since a septum piercing is a more … aggressive? piercing than a nose stud, I think it might be worth doing a little advance legwork, just to minimize weirdness with your new boss, who you want to have smooth relations with. The company doesn’t prohibit facial piercings, but you still don’t want a weird moment where your new manager is surprised or wonders why you sashayed in without asking about it (since she probably won’t know that you talked to the HR manager about it).

Specifically, I think it could be useful to send her an email a few days before you start, saying how excited you are to start, confirming that you’re planning to arrive at (whatever time on whatever day), and adding something like, “By the way, I had asked Jane about any company rules on piercings and she assured me there aren’t any — but I wanted to give you a heads-up that I have a small nose ring that I typically wear daily; it sounds like that’s okay, but I wanted to mention it in advance.”

To be clear, I don’t think you have to do this — but I think it’ll be helpful in getting the relationship off on a good foot.

{ 325 comments… read them below }

  1. BRR*

    I think it might be better for #2 to ask instead of giving a heads up. Not just because of the type of piercing but I think asking is better overall but especially when starting a new relationship. I don’t think just because there is no existing policy means you’re free and clear yet.

    1. SJPxo*

      I think you’re totally right on this.. Ask them how they’d feel about you wearing a septum ring out, rather than just giving them a heads up – “By the way I’m going to wear my septum ring out, ok” cause a lot of people will see that as you telling them you are, not asking them if it’s ok. And I know a lot of the older generations aren’t very keen on facial piercings so they may have their “back put out” by that rather than them agreeing that they’re ok with you doing that

    2. Traveler*

      But #2 has asked already by verifying the piercings policy. With Alison’s suggestion she is confirming she already asked HR, while still giving the manager the opportunity to object. I really like Alison’s phrasing here.

      1. BRR*

        I wouldn’t start a relationship with my boss by telling them what I’m going to do because I checked with HR. First, telling usually doesn’t go over as well, especially with people who have authority over you. Second, the manager might have a different preference than company policy and is allowed to enforce it.

        1. Mabel*

          I think it depends on the general culture of the office and the OP’s level of comfort with “telling” vs. “asking.” I have gone back and forth on this for myself, and for me I feel better letting my manager know when I have a dr. appt. or when I’m going to be out of the office. Asking just doesn’t feel comfortable. However, I have worked in this office for quite a while, and my manager knows that I will work over time if necessary to get things done on time. That’s probably a big difference since the OP is starting a new job, but I do think the OP’s level of comfort with asking vs. telling and his/her general feel of the office culture can be taken into account.

        2. Traveler*

          To me this:”it sounds like that’s okay, but I wanted to mention it in advance” is a question. I agree you don’t want to tell your manager what you’re doing, but that’s not how this statement comes across to me at all. This comes across as I heard this answer, so I’m planning to go with it, but I wanted to mention it to you in case you felt otherwise. Why else would you be “mentioning” it other than to ask permission? As a manager I would appreciate the fact that the employee checked with HR first to cover those details since things like dress code are more their forte than mine.

    3. OhNo*

      Asking is always a good idea. Alternatively, OP could phrase it as a where/when question. Like: “I usually wear a nose piercing. Would you like me to take it out when I’m working with clients/at the front desk/meeting with the CEO/etc.?”

      I had this situation not too long ago with my hair. I was getting it shaved into a mohawk, which I know can be viewed as an unprofessional hairstyle, so I went to all of my bosses the week before and asked “Hey, I’m getting my head shaved next weekend. Do you want me to cover my hair when I’m interacting with customers?” Across the board the answers were either “No, don’t worry about it” or “Eh, let’s see what it looks like… Oh, that’s fine, don’t worry about it.”

      Either way, actually asking made a lot of difference to them. One even gave me some advice about professional appearance, workplace norms, and moving up in that particular workplace that was really good to know. So your boss might also have some advice in that area that could really help you out.

      1. Danielle*

        I would go more along the lines of “By the way, I had asked Jane about any company rules on piercings and she assured me there aren’t any — but I wanted to confirm with you, as I have a small nose ring that I typically wear, and I didn’t want it to be a surprise on Monday.” This way you’re not explicitly telling (agreed with above, not the right way to start of a relationship with a new boss), but you’re not making it a full question either, since you have already confirmed and it should be ok.

  2. Elle*

    #1 What about a clear retainer until you get a job? You could cover it with makeup if you still feel it’s visible but you wouldn’t have to take it out.

    #2 One of my coworkers has one of the horseshoe shaped rings and he keeps tucked in his nose so it isn’t visible, if he didn’t play with it when he was bored no one would know (as it is, it looks like he picks his nose in meetings.) Maybe that would be an option until your coworkers get to know you a bit more if the dress code isn’t clear cut.

    1. mel*

      Oh yeah! I had a coworker with one of the horseshoe shaped ones and none of us had any idea she had a piercing at all because it completely “disappears” when tucked inside. I thought that was pretty neat.

      1. Windchime*

        I’ve never had a nose piercing, but I think it would bug the heck out of me to tuck it up inside my nose!

        1. Selkie*

          You get used to it after a while! The first ten minutes or so it feels like you’ve got a solid bogie up there, but you forget about it until you go to blow your nose. I usually wear mine flipped up at work, but winter season means my nose dries out and I get a lot of nosebleeds, so it looks like I’ll be using the above answer when I start my new job in the next month or so.

          Come to think of it, that’s awesomely timed.

    2. Karowen*

      My brother does the second as well – It hides it so completely that, even though he lives at home and he has had it for years, I’m pretty sure that my parents still have no idea that he has one.

  3. Michele*

    My friend has a septum piercing that he does not wear to work or when he feels it is not appropriate. He has a plug (not sure that is the right term) that he wears while at work so that there is not an issue with it closing up.

  4. Cheeky*

    I have a nose piercing- I wear a small stud, which is really rather discreet, much more so than a ring. I work for a company with really a lax dress code, though. LW #1 could wear a piercing retainer for interviews- it’s a clear stud that lies flush with your skin- which will prevent the piercing from closing, which can happen very, very quickly (within hours).

    As for LW #2, if I were her, I’d wear a septum ring that can be flipped up into my noise and hidden for work. Once on the job, you can get a better feel for the environment and whether the piercing will be okay to show or not.

      1. Natalie*

        Like any piercing, it depends on how long you’ve had it, how big it is, and probably your individual healing speed. The specific location matters, too. I have a labret and a bridge, both over ten years old. The labret could be left without jewelry for days, while the bridge starts tightening after 18 hours or so.

  5. Mena*

    #1: I suggest leaving it out for interviews. Once you receive an offer, accept and start a job, you can then get a feel for the environment … much like seeing how others dress and if open-toed shoes in the summer are ok or out of the norm …
    Once you are onboard with some credibility established and you have a sense for how formal/casual the office environment is, you can decide what to wear in your piercing and when to wear it.

  6. LBK*

    #1 There are religious reasons for having a nose piercing? I learn so many unexpected things from this blog…

    1. Lee*

      It would be protected under a religious reason. But not for cultural reasons? I have a friend who got told to take it out when she came in to temp even though the company has a diversity clause. She was told by HR the compay had a conservative dress code. She was dressed professionally but still go told off for a small nose stud

  7. The Wall of Creativity*

    Isn’t it simpler to just get a Prince Albert? What the eye don’t see the chef gets away with Mr Fawlty.

      1. The Wall of Creativity*

        I get followed around all the time by charity collectors.

        “Look – I’ve told you I have mo cash on me.”

        “Liar! I can hear the coins jangling in your pocket!”

        1. Tinker*

          Really? That’s odd, the folks I know who have PAs don’t seem to jingle. They usually just have one CBR or CBB, though, and in that case there’s not much opportunity for metal on metal. Do you hang a bell off it or something?

          1. The Wall of Creativity*

            I keep my keys on it. Very convenient at the swimming pool. But I have to go there by bus. Driving the car is too much of a challenge these days.

    1. ExceptionToTheRule*

      If you, like me, had no idea what a Prince Albert is… wait until you get home to google it…

      You can learn something new every day.

  8. SJPxo*

    to OP #2 – I have a septum ring which I can put a segment in and have an entire ring in. When I am at work I always take the segment out so it’s a horse shoe shaped and swing it back into my nostrils and have it in my nose. I work for a relaxed scientific technology company but still, It’s not the most professional piercing. A lot of people still see it as very “Punk” (even though it’s not, actresses like Scarlett Johansson, singers Lady Gaga etc have them) so it put’s people off. After I’ve finished work and I’m on the way home I simply swing it back out so it’s visable again and more comfortable. The only job I ever wore it out in was when I worked for a Video Games developer where it was so much the norm for people to have tattoo’s and piercings it was fine. Generally most jobs though it would be silently or not so silently frowned upon/judged

    1. Chinook*

      I am curious – are there any safety reasons why wearing a a nose ring instead of a stud or horsehoe would be a bad idea? I don’t know how close somebody may me to moving parts, but I know that mechanics are not supposed to wear rings and necklaces are only allowed under coveralls for just this reason.

      1. Anonasaurus Rex*

        A lot of healthcare facilities have policies against certain types of piercings because they don’t close over the same as pierced ears and can be an infection concern, but it depends on what type of job you have. Most in direct patient care don’t or can’t wear jewelry because it would just get into things and be in the way of their uniforms and equipment.

      2. Judy*

        I would assume there would sometimes be requirements if working in certain environments. When I worked as a design engineer in the defense industry, if we went out on the floor, we were supposed to take off our rings, and only be wearing stud earrings, no loops or dangles. I believe it was suggested for the folks who worked out there that they not wear earrings. And as you say, necklaces had to be under clothes. I can’t imagine that piercings on the face would be different.

      3. KAZ2Y5*

        I work in a hospital pharmacy, and we are not allowed to wear any jewelry while preparing IV’s for sterility issues.

        1. SJPxo*

          Yes I do get what you mean about citing lady gaga as mainstream, what I meant is that by someone like her having it, it puts it more in the public eye, if you know what I mean.
          But yea, a lot of people covered it above. Ask HR, they don’t have a policy but state to your manager that you usually wear it, and would she be ok with you wearing it in the office and if she is ok with that clarify if she’d want you to take it out for client meetings or anything front facing

        2. fposte*

          No wedding rings or earrings, even? Interesting–I hadn’t heard that. Is that widespread, do you think?

          1. KAZ2Y5*

            Oh yes. That is a USP797 standard (the “bible” for compounding sterile products). You can’t get the jewelry clean enough for the clean room (and gloves are not a substitute for washing!). Actually the standard is no make-up, no jewelry and no artificial nails. You are striving to make the IV prep area as clean and particulate-free as possible.

            So, I look really awesome at work!

  9. Traveler*

    I just wanted to add in that this won’t always be about company culture or policy – but about a person’s specific experiences with people with piercings. Unfairly there are cases where people had a bad experience with people who wear nose rings and therefore think all people who where nose rings are (insert negative thing here). You can replace nose rings with pretty much any body modification.

  10. Anon*

    I’m not a fan of facial piercings in general.

    The first time I ever saw a nose ring was in a pig, and when I see a person with a septum piercing, that’s the first association I make. So. Not. A. Fan. Of. Them.

    If I were in charge, I’d say not on my watch.

    1. jag*

      I have the same mental association with nose rings – I think of livestock. That said, those are just my impressions. Whether it’s appropriate or not depends on the job and image the organization wants to present.

      I’ll add that simple studs through one side of a nose are seemingly far less “out there” than nose rings – I’ve seen female attorneys and women in other moderately traditional professions with them. Not actually common, but in some time (a few years? 10?) no big deal.

      On the men’s side, these are all fairly rare.

    2. pizzagrl*

      It seems like terrible rationale that you wouldn’t let your hypothetical employees wear their body jewelry because you don’t like them. It’s also not super polite to compare LW piercing to a pig because you know…she just told you that she has a septum ring. I’m not a fan of septum piercings either, but it’s not my face.

    3. Tinker*

      I’m not a fan of facial piercings, because due to my lifestyle choices I do not want anything installed on my body that I would not want to have soundly woodpeckered by a foam spear. Obviously, this does not relate to the bodies of other people, but it covers 100% of the bodies to which my opinion is relevant.

    4. Verde*

      And that’s why I don’t take mine out for interviews – I wouldn’t want to work for someone who thinks as you do, as chances are we’ll butt heads over many things, and it’s a great way to test the waters. The interview is a two-way street, after all.

      I have a small, but thicker, hoop on the side of my nose that doesn’t come out without pliers and pain. Therefore, I don’t want to work for anyone who has an issue with it, so it’s out there all the time. Plus, honestly, I forget it’s there 99% of the time, anyhow.

      1. Connie-Lynne*

        This. When I was younger and starting out in the workplace, I’d wear a wig and remove my more outré piercings (none of which are strange by modern standards) for interviews.

        Now that I’m 25+ years established in my career, I make sure I dress professionally and that my (vividly blue and purple) hair is styled nicely, but otherwise, I don’t hide these day-to-day aspects of my appearance. If someone wants to judge me based on my chosen appearance rather than my skillset, I’d rather work elsewhere.

        1. Connie-Lynne*

          (and it doesn’t seem to be an issue — my role is definitely outward-facing; I speak at public events on behalf of my company and have had my picture featured in vendor profiles).

      2. Tek*

        Exactly. I have quite a few ear piercings, and while those are easily hidden by my hair, I have an eyebrow piercing that is seen far more often and I have no plans to remove/hide it. If an interviewer has a problem with my piercings, then it means it’s not the place for me.

    5. Erica*

      I definitely had a Carolyn Hax style “Wow” reaction to this comment. There are many, many fashion choices I personally don’t find attractive – baby doll shirts, 80s neon revival, cutesy animal brooches – but I can’t even conceive of using this as a criterion for hiring, because unless someone is a professional stylist, their jewelry has absolutely ZERO relevance to their ability to do the job.

      1. Jennifer*

        I think it’s one of those “subtle bias” things. If both candidates up for the job are equal but somebody who makes decisions is grossed out by nose rings….

    6. Katie (not the Fed)*

      Many cattle wear ear tags as a means of identification. Also collars, so by extension earrings and necklaces are out. Some dogs and horses wear coats so proper humans should eschew those as well. However, the jury is still debating whether steel-toed boots are too horsehoe-y.

    7. Elizabeth West*

      Personally, I don’t care what other people wear. If I owned a company, you could be covered in tattoos and have huge gauges and nose rings out the wazoo and I wouldn’t give a crap, as long as you did your work. But I would never have a facial piercing myself. Just the thought of it makes me think, OW. And the nose one would bug the hell out of me. I’m happy with my two ear piercings (one in each ear).

  11. LisaG*

    #1. Hmm…I have a nose piercing and wear a small stud all the time. I’m so used to having it in that I don’t even think to take it out before interviews. I’ve gotten at least four different teaching jobs (plus some part time and smaller ones) after wearing my nose stud to interviews. I’m interviewing now for non-teaching professional jobs, and I haven’t bothered taking out my stud. I feel like as a young woman having a nose stud is becoming nearly as common as pierced ears. I also have double piercings in both my ears and I wear (small, tasteful) jewelry in both piercings to interviews. (I should mention that I’m in NYC, so the tolerance for piercings and tattoos and such is pretty high).

    One time in college I had a phone interview with a sleep away camp and the director informed me that they don’t allow counselors to have facial piercings or tattoos (only female counselors could have ears pierced). When asked for a reason he said that the campers might be scared or intimidated by something unfamiliar. So I decided I’d rather work at a different camp (where the director himself had visible tattoos) than take out my piercing. I’ve been a teacher for 5 years now and so far my nose piercing hasn’t scared any kids (to my knowledge).

    1. Michele*

      I worked at a summer camp that did not allow tattoos if you had them they had to be covered. The camp was primarily Jewish kids and a lot of the parents were not happy with all the tattoo’s my first summer there. So the new rule was put in place.

      1. LisaG*

        The camp I ended up working at actually had primarily Jewish campers, but the camp was still fine with tattoos. It does make sense though that at a Jewish camp, or with Jewish campers, they might ask you to cover up tattoos since Judaism has very clear prohibitions against body mods and tattoos could be seen as not following the values of the camp/families.

        (Slightly off topic – one of my co-counselors had at least 9 or 10 tattoos and he would voluntarily cover them up for visiting day. Which was probably a good choice considering one of his tats was two pistols on his calf with the inscription “Live fast, die young.”)

      2. Oryx*

        But that makes sense within the context of Jewish beliefs (one of the most interesting and informative theological discussions this agnostic ever had was with a Jewish co-worker on the subject of tattoos)

        1. Bea W*

          The Rabbi who accompanied my group to Israel had a tattoo as did some of the people in her congregation. Apparently not all Jewish people buy into that belief. I wish I could remember what she had said about it now. I am totally drawing a blank. I was so surprised the Rabbi was a woman, I didn’t think twice about the tattoo until someone else asked her about it.

    2. Mallorie, the recruiter*

      I have visible tattoos and work for a large bank. I always ask my boss (when I get a new one) if they want me to cover them and no one has ever taken me up on it (even when I was in customer facing positions). I always cover them for interviews though because I just don’t want to be “the girl with the hand tattoo”. Though I will say I like that people don’t make a big deal out of them. Things like this are becoming MORE common, but there are still biases. I wouldn’t be surprised if in 15-20 years that tattoos and piercings no longer seem weird, even in corporate settings, because so many of us will have them!

  12. Steve G*

    Sorry, I think nose peircings and excessive tattoos are very unattractive on a woman (unless you are dressed in traditional Indian attire). I’ve seen way to many girls who have looked all-round professional, and that one little metal dot on their nose makes them look like an overgrown teenager. It reeks of “I’m not ready to be an adult.” Also, a dissproportionate # of girls I see drunk, smoking, and doing pot have nose rings….which gives the clean ones a bad rap.

    1. Steve G*

      Last sentence spoken as someone living in Brooklyn amongst the hipsters, so I am not just making that up:-).

      1. Beyonce Pad Thai*

        I’m not sure what you’re trying to say here. You would negatively judge a woman wearing a nose stud, because you’ve seen other women with nose studs drink, smoke, or use pot? (And that somehow makes them unnatractive, unclean women?)

        And is there a reason your comment only targets women?

      2. pizzagrl*

        I “do pot” and quite a few other things that I will refrain from listing here. I stay out until 7, 8, 9, and sometimes 10 (or later) in the morning listening to weird music in Brooklyn. I have no visible piercings and no tattoos. Looking at me screams clean, but doesn’t give you any insight into my wildly unclean and illicit proclivities. I will also add that I practice responsible irresponsibility, so while I just admitted to having questionable vices I do them with care.

        Clean on the outside, dirty on the inside.

    2. jag*

      “I’ve seen way to many girls who have looked all-round professional, and that one little metal dot on their nose makes them look like an overgrown teenager. ”

      I think this says more about you than them.

      1. Tinker*

        Heh, every time I read one of these sort of Updates From My Pants (and it’s, er, kind of a trope, let us say) I end up idly wondering if the local tattoo parlor has slots for emergency appointments.

        Sadly, tattoos take a lot of planning to do right and the sorts of activities I tend to get involved in somewhat limit (or at least provide consequences that I am not willing to accept to) a lot of the nontraditional visible piercings.

      1. Anon*

        Yet we yell at them for showing too much cleavage.

        Once we’ve concluded that appearance matters, the real question is where to draw the line.

        1. LBK*

          Attractiveness and appropriateness aren’t the same thing. Appearance matters in the sense of wearing things that are appropriate for your work, it doesn’t matter in the sense of how hot your face is.

    3. the_scientist*

      And level of attractiveness relates to work performance, professionalism and work ethic….how? Please do enlighten us.

      1. Michele*

        Wow, while everyone is entitled to their opinion. I am offended as a woman that also lives in Brooklyn by your generalization.

    4. KJ*

      Steve, can you please tell us more about what you find attractive in women? We definitely want to make sure we are doing everything possible to be attractive to you and not accidentally doing anything to turn you off!

      Thanks in advance!

      — All “Clean” Women Everywhere

      1. Steve G*

        Everyone commented on my saying it is unattractive but no one said anything about my comment that “it reeks of “I am not ready to be an adult.”” I may be the only person on this quite liberal blog to say that, but certainly am not the only person in the world at large to think it.

        It would definitely be taken into consideration at promotion time even to the Manager level at my company, as are many other subjective items. A nose ring would also probably leave you out of consideration for attendance at high-level regulatory meetings, which can be fun to attend (if you understand the subjects).

        1. LisaG*

          Why does it reek of “I am not ready to be an adult.”? Is it simply because most people with these piercings are younger? Nose piercings and other facial piercings have become increasingly popular (and accepted) in recent years, so younger people are more likely to have them. There are fewer people old enough to be in top management positions who have these piercings, so you don’t associate them with those positions. As more people with piercings grow up, there will be more adults with piercings and it will look a lot less like a thing teenagers do.

          1. some1*

            Exactly this. My grandma is 90 and there was a stigma about girl/women having pierced ears when she was young. For women in following generations it’s the norm.

          2. Anon*

            This is actually a fascinating topic. We get told all of the time, “Dress for the position you want, not the position you have.” Since management generally doesn’t wear facial piercings, it’s a good idea to take them out, no?

            1. Kelly L.*

              You’re not following the logic. The goal is to achieve the same level of formality, not to look the same age, or even necessarily the same fashion sense.

              1. Jamie*

                Right, but there are many people who would consider facial piercings to be an issue of formality.

                The mindset behind the “dress for the position you want, not the position you have” advice is you want tptb to be able to see you in a higher role. You don’t want a disconnect between the person they see and their idea of who should be in executive management meetings, for example.

                Fair or not, for some the piercings and visible tattoos are a barrier to some people seeing you in that role. You need to know your workplace, and know you’re decision makers.

                1. Kelly L.*

                  Sure. It’s always a good idea to be aware of your specific work environment. But Anon’s snarky blanket statement is unnecessary.

                2. fposte*

                  And this, I think, is a fair statement. Different body mods have different acceptance rates in different populations. (I speak as a woman without pierced ears, so I’m just sitting the whole thing out.) It’s wise to understand what’s accepted in yours and how much “mod tax” you’re willing to pay.

                  That’s also very different from the legally troubling assessment of body mod being a problem based on how attractive it does or doesn’t make a kind of person.

                3. Tinker*

                  I end up coming off as a bit snarky when I discuss these things, partly intentionally, but I really do think that “dress for the position you want” is more or less good advice for everyone, even though in common use it’s often relegated to the traditional corporate ladder-climber lifestyle.

                  The trick is, you really do have to sit down and think about what the position you want ACTUALLY IS. As you say, the mindset that tends to be involved in saying that phrase tends to be along the lines of that there is a “TPTB” to appeal to and that one needs to come off to them as the sort of person “who should be in executive management meetings”.

                  If you want to be in executive management meetings, and some people certainly do (and that’s a perfectly fine goal to have), then one is well advised to dress like the sort of person who is generally found in such meetings. If upon examining your soul you realize that you would rather contribute to the world in a different way, and indeed would rather crawl through fine gravel mixed with water and intermittently electrified than appear in an executive management meeting (at least the traditional formal corporate ones generally implied), then you also have good information about the way you may want to manage your image.

                  In the end, I think, it’s necessary to own your desires and choices.

              2. Kelly L.*

                @Jamie, it’s the generalization and the cutesy little question at the end that read as snarky to me. Like he thinks he has a gotcha.

              3. Kelly L.*

                And Lisa is correct, there will be a sweeping change on this front as time goes on. Maybe Wakeen works under Jane for fifteen years, and Jane is kind of straitlaced and doesn’t like piercings. But one day Jane retires, or leaves the company, and Wakeen is like “Woohoo! Finally I can wear my nose ring.” So he does, and now everyone working under him knows they’re free to wear theirs now too.

                (And there will probably always be people who don’t! I love piercings aesthetically but I know I’m a wimp and don’t have any myself.)

              1. ZoomaZoomZoom*

                But when it does, it will go perfectly with that fur vest/jacket thingy on the front page of the Chico’s web site.

                See, putting together these outfits is easy!

            2. Molly*

              Meh, assuming they’re actually less formal, and not just a generational thing. I think young people are just more into them, and they’ll be seen as perfectly professional with time, the way pierced ears are now.

              All the C levels in my company have grey hair, but I’m not going to go out and die mine.

              1. Eliza Jane*

                I really, really, really like this analogy. I just wanted to say that. It really drives home how generational differences can show up in the workplace, and the line you walk as a younger professional moving towards senior rank. Just looking older can look more professional, but we shouldn’t all be trying to look like we were born in the 50s in order to seem professional. If you’re a child of the 90s, own that.

                1. Kelly L.*

                  And as another, non-work example, I really dislike some of the clothes that my older female relatives wear–these are clothes they seem to really like and seek out on purpose, too, so obviously the designers are doing something right. I used to wonder whether my taste in clothes would change as I grew older, but the more I think about it, the more I can see a direct line between the stylish clothes of these women’s youth in the 50s and the clothes they wear today. And when I’m old, I’ll probably be wearing some version of 90s clothes, and my younger relatives will think it’s ugly while I think I’m stylin’. :D

                2. Tinker*

                  Kelly L. —

                  Heh. My mother and aunt keep on pressuring me to wear Chico’s because they like it quite a lot, and unfortunately a few years ago I was sufficiently indiscreet as to name the target demographic for that brand (in fairness, it didn’t help that I don’t see being middle-aged, relatively short, and female as a bad thing, just as a thing that I am not). Now it seems to be something of a matter of honor to get me into some item of clothing, any item of clothing, from that company so as to prove some point that I’m not entirely clear on.

                  I do not think they realize just how ridiculous that scene would be, but I have a fairly clear vision of what it would look like to stuff a 30-something athletic genderqueer person into one of those outfits and it is… special. “Not even wrong” I think about sums it up.

                  But even though I don’t understand how those outfits work for the people they work for, or how people construct such outfits (it really is a mystery to me), I can see that they do work for some people. Not everything on this planet has to be made for me.

                  I think it’s going to be fun to see how my generation turns out as old people — the dapper folks in particular, I think, are going to be AWESOME.

                3. Maggie*

                  It’s a wonderful statement about youth in the corporate setting too. I have a huge CV, pedigree, ample leadership experience in and out of the office and I still have a hard time being accepted by my older peers because I look 24 (35), and this is without piercings — and I dress pretty conservatively. Maybe we can’t accurately have the young/corporate/piercing conversation since in my experience ageism exists regardless of visible modifications. /-:

              2. Kelly L.*

                Hee, I actually typed and then deleted a rhetorical question about whether younger employees should dye their hair gray! :D

        2. fposte*

          Sure, but if somebody said that was true about people not in suits and ties, they would also certainly not be the only person in the world to think that. It doesn’t make it a significant viewpoint.

          More to the point, you responded to a work question with your personal views on female attractiveness, and at that point a lot of us didn’t really care much about the rest of the comment.

        3. Beyonce Pad Thai*

          Steve, everybody’s commenting on that because it’s offensive, you targeted women specifically, and attractiveness has no bearing on work.

          Personally I disagree with your opinion that it “it reeks of “I am not ready to be an adult.””, but I can see how some conservative employers might find piercings too unprofessional looking for their workplace. “I am not ready to be an adult” is kind of a lot to infer from a simple nose stud, though, I think you’re being a little pearl-clutchy there.

        4. fposte*

          Additionally, what concerns me about your statements is that it sounds like nose rings would hurt women in your workplace but not men, and that you really haven’t processed how your view (and possibly your manager’s view, from what you’re saying) on the appropriateness of nose rings only for women in the workplace is the kind of discrimination that gets a company sued.

          When you’re dating, sure, you can pass on anything you don’t find personally attractive in a woman. But if that discriminatory attitude creeps into your professional life, you risk being a liability.

          1. A Cita*

            I’m actually surprised that no one has noticed he hasn’t spoken about women at all. The post speaks of “girls.” Very offensive.

        5. jag*

          “it reeks of “I am not ready to be an adult.”””

          That’s bogus too. And it also says more about you than them.

          Maybe overall your gross generalization has some ounce of truth to it. But “reeks”? No. If someone is put together very professionally overall and has a piercing, it’s seems to me they’re probably very professional. It means they’re professional but perhaps a tiny tiny bit more edgy. Maybe not right in every job, but it’s just one thing.

          Judge the total package. Don’t latch onto one thing and relate it to other problems/experiences in your life.

          J A G born in Brooklyn

        6. Beyonce Pad Thai*

          I’m curious why you comment on what people are not addressing but don’t reply to the valid points people do bring up?

          1. Molly*

            hmmm same. Maybe people agree with that part, or just don’t find it that egregious.

            To go back and say “I said this!! why hasn’t anyone brought it up!?” is a little weird….
            It sounds like you were either trying to get a reaction or avoiding the comments people have made.

            1. Kelly L.*

              I wonder if it’s a relic from debate class. I remember that we had to hit every single point the opponent made, or else they’d win points on it. In a less formal discussion like this, though, there are going to be sentences people don’t do much with, mostly because other points are more important and take up more mental space.

        7. Bea W*

          “Fun” and “high-level regulatory meetings” go together like garlic and ice cream. This sounds like a very convincing reason I should stop for some facial piercings on my way to the office.

        1. Beyonce Pad Thai*

          I’m referring to your comments about a woman’s attractiveness. How does what you find attractive in a woman relate to her professionalism?

        2. some1*

          It’s a question about nose rings at work, not a referendum on how us lady folk can avoid looking unattractive and not clean for Steve G

    5. A Teacher*

      That statement says more about you than about someone else. How does someone’s level of attractiveness impact how they do their job? The last sentence is a hasty generalization as one of my college professors would say. What are you basing this assumption on?

    6. Hous*

      Sweet, more women with nose-rings for me.

      More seriously, you started a reply to a post about women wearing nose-rings in a professional setting with a comment on how attractive you find it, of course people are going to jump on that. If it’s relevant to your hiring that you think women with nose-rings and tattoos are unattractive, that says much more about your hiring practices than it says about the women who choose these kinds of body modifications. Your own biases with regard to hiring (maturity, possible lifestyle issues) are relevant in the broad sense that other hiring managers might feel the same way; your feelings on how attractive it is should not enter into professional issues at all.

      1. Sigrid*

        If it’s relevant to your hiring that you think women with nose-rings and tattoos are unattractive, that says much more about your hiring practices than it says about the women who choose these kinds of body modifications.


    7. The Real Ash*

      What is your opinion on men with tattoos and piercings?

      And just an FYI, please use the term “women” when you are referring to adult females. We are not pre-pubescent children.

    8. straws*

      If there are both “clean” and “unclean” girls with nose rings, why does that automatically give “clean” girls a bad rap? Why doesn’t it make you think “Well, I guess nose rings aren’t an indicator of an unclean person, perhaps I shouldn’t make that assumption?”

    9. Lily in NYC*

      I am cracking up at “doing pot”. It just sounds so out of touch and quaint, like something my uptight grandma would say. And you do realize plenty of us old geezers “do pot” and and get drunk once in a while yet still manage to be productive, mature members of society?

      1. Beyonce Pad Thai*

        Same here, I’m feeling a little bad about the pile-up on Steve precisely because the term “doing pot” is conjuring up images of various older relatives. But I don’t feel too bad, because seriously Steve, I’m still a little hung up on the unclean girls bit. I hope something positive comes out of this discussion!

        1. Steve G*

          No…nothing is gonna come of this discussion I guess. Expcept me not reading this blog anymore, even though I’ve been reading for over 4 years and enjoy it. The comments are getting way to liberal on one end, and on the other end, you word one thing the wrong way, you getting eaten alive.

          My stance, now that this is the last comment I will ever post here is: the question is a question that shouldn’t be asked because adults shouldn’t have nose rings.

          I used to participate in alot of good discussions here…..then a month ago I got piled on for telling someone moving to NY for the first time that she should plan on asking for at least $65K if she wants to live alone. Some people said I was being judgemental and classist telling her to make “so much.” Well, the OP eventually responded that she was going to make more than that. Also, NYC is a city where many people make $200K so assuming, like some of the other readers did, that she wanted advice on how to live in NY making $40K and living with roommates was more of a stereotype than I was making (assuming everyone reading the blog is low income) – not everyone wants to live in a bad neighborhood with a ton of roommates, like a new college graduate. So for the sake on political correctness, some other posters were guiding this new NYer to live in neigborhoods that were really not nice (said as someone who lives in an area that still gets scoffed at).

          What has been happening in the comments here reminds me of the change in our perception of obesity since the 80s/early 90s to now. Then the media started saying that it was OK to accept yourself if you are overweight. Now, that message has turned into “it is OK to be overweight.” Well, somewhere along the line we forgot that being overweight is a health risk, not only a fashion statement. But heaven forbid you actually say that now, you are crucified.

          And as per assuming that the OP was a female, it was a guess. Men for the most part don’t write blogs for fashion-related advice. I know, we shouldn’t stereotype, but….

          And my last comment (ever) here: the reason for my stereotype? The only people I have known who had nose rings: 1) drug addict from HS, 2) the girl who didn’t have a job and had loud sex in the afternoon and got evicted downstairs from me, 3) random people walking around Williamsburg in the middle of the day, presumably without normal 9-5 jobs (or they’d be at work). NEVER have I seen someone in a professional position in any of the corporate office I’ve worked at in Manhattan with a nose ring.

          1. Karyn*

            “And as per assuming that the OP was a female, it was a guess. Men for the most part don’t write blogs for fashion-related advice. I know, we shouldn’t stereotype, but….”

            Actually, plenty of men write to blogs for fashion-related advice, but that’s neither here nor there. I can’t see where anyone got upset at you for assuming the OP was a woman (correct me if I’m wrong), but I can see where people were upset for you referring to the female OP as a “girl,” because “girl” is dismissive and, frankly, kind of insulting.

            Additionally, I’d like to point out that just because someone doesn’t work between the hours of 9-5 doesn’t mean they don’t have a professional, “normal” job. I have a dear friend who is a nutritionist for several celebrity clients who does not work between 9-5, and I guarantee you, she considers herself a professional and works more hours than anyone I know. Just because you might see her walking around London between 9-5 doesn’t mean she doesn’t have a job. Now, if you’re referring to “professional positions in corporate offices,” of COURSE many of those positions are not going to be positions in which piercings/tattoos are going to be acceptable, but that doesn’t mean those are the only positions worth having, nor does it mean that the people in those positions are the only people with some kind of worth. Your last paragraph makes it sound as though anyone not working in a corporate office in Manhattan is somehow beneath the rest of the world.

            1. some1*

              This. Physicians are another occupation where your hours might not be 9-5. And some professionals have 9-5 jobs with lax dress codes and they go for walks on their lunch or day off.

          2. fposte*

            Look, I don’t want you to go, but the problem with your statement wasn’t its illiberality. I know a lot of conservatives who’d be pretty pissed off at the notion they were making work judgments based on the attractiveness of women too. There are definitely points worth considering about body mods and their acceptance in different realms (although most people aren’t working in corporate Manhattan, so that may be a bit of a red herring), but it’s not based on whether guys find girls with them hot, and treating the issue as such can get you into a lot worse trouble than some annoyed blog comments. So maybe better you hear that point in here than in a workplace.

          3. Beyonce Pad Thai*

            Geez, Steve. You got called out, rightfully imo, for a problematic comment. That’s no reason to stop reading a blog. It might be a reason to do some introspection re: your viewpoint on this topic.

            As for your last paragraphs: You’re kind of just confirming your stereotype is based on very anectotal evidence. Also, jobs that aren’t 9-5 are ‘normal’, too.

            1. Beyonce Pad Thai*

              Re: what Alison wrote below – I do hope you won’t stop reading.

              I have been on the receiving end of a lot of disagreeing comments on something I posted, and I felt a bit mortified at the time. But I doubt anyone still holds the stuff I posted against me. It wasn’t fun, but it did make me see an opposing point of view I had not considered before, which has been useful.

          4. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Steve, I hope you won’t stop reading over this, but I certainly understand if you choose to.

            My advice: Come back and read this discussion in a day or two when it’s not as fresh, and read it imagining that it wasn’t your comment people were reacting to, because that can help give you some distance.

            The way I read it is that you made a comment about what is and isn’t attractive on women as if it were relevant to workplace issues, and that’s what people reacted to (pretty understandably, and no one was over the top in their reaction). It sucks when you’re on the receiving end of a bunch of people saying you’re wrong, but I think if you come back and read it later on, you’ll see that it was a pretty reasonable response to a remark that you probably didn’t mean exactly how it sounded. (But it did sound that way because of the word choice, which is okay for you to own. We all pick the wrong words at times or just say something that we didn’t realize would rightfully irk others, myself included.)

            With that, let’s all of us move on.

            1. Steve G*

              Times are changing, this is the first time I feel a discussion on a blog on “the interwebs” is real.

              I just came back and read the comments and responses to my comments, and some of the comments people wrote were….too much. First, me aside, the nitpicking started on Tinker about how the end of one of her comments were snarky, when it wasn’t, and then Tinker had to defend herself.

              There were multiple comments on my using the word “attractive.” That really comes across as nitpicking when you are on the recieving end. One person commenting is enough. The same with “woman” vs. “girl.” Did the 15th person really need to chime in and say they were offended? And were those people truly offended? Some stranger on a blog wrote a really quick comment while browsing a post on a 5 min break at work. These are quick blog discussions alot of people are doing while at work. If I called a 50 year old “girl” in person, yes, that is not respectful. But this is an informal blog. I’m not sitting here critiquing every little word people write, but some other readers are.

              Then I have someone calling me a baby “taking my toys and running” home. Gee, that is not offensive, but me giving my personal opinion on nose rings is. The reason I was “being a baby” was because 1/2 of what I wrote was commented to death, the other part completely ignored. If I wrote “I’ll help lepers but not into amputees,” in real life, 50% of people would say “good work with the lepers.” Here? 100% of the people would feel the need to defend the amputees. And now it’s the next day, clear head, I still find nose rings unattractive, and I still don’t understand why that is offensive. Some men prefer blonds, some white ladies only date black men – who cares.

              Yes, attractiveness doesn’t have anything to do work…but I didn’t even realize until today, that I never said it did. Other comments assumed that. Why, IDK. Maybe they like to assume the worst in other commenters so they have something to comment about?

              There was also a comment or 2 here about “well Manhattan is not the only place in the world..” This is when posting here is getting exhausting as I think the dynamic is changing. Yes, I know not every place in the world is like NYC. Why do we have to qualify every little comment here with a disclaimer such as “I know this comment is not representative of every person in said city and that this city is not representative of the world at large?” My point was that even here with all of the people I deal with..the last time I saw someone with a nose-ring was a bartender. Sorry, never seen one on someone in a corporate position. Also, maybe living in NYC over-exposes me to certain things (but not nose rings:-). I don’t get offended easily, alot of the people around me have thick skin, I NEVER hear comments in real life like we have on this blog, about this one being offended, and that one not liking your word choice, and the other fixing the grammar. What does get me “offended” here is that I get surprised when people read all of this stuff into peoples’ comments that isn’t there.

              I also still don’t understand the few people that wrote that my dislike of nose rings is “more of a reflection of me.” Reflection of what? I personally don’t like them. It’s really not that deep. I think they make a girl or woman unattractive. And that could be taken as a positive – “hey you look good just the way you are you don’t need all of those peircings.”

              So sorry for the long response, but this discussion got so long.

              I guess my overall point is that once you get to a point where every little thing you say is critiqued, there is no point in participating anymore. This discussion aside, it was really…annoying…a few weeks ago when I was relaxing with coffeee calmly reading the weekend open threads…someone said they are moving to NYC, what neigborhoods are good. I assume the person is NOT entry level salary and willing to live with roommates. I start to get reamed for that. But why? What was wrong with my assumption? Of course most people are not entry level, because most people are not 22 and just finishing school! Why did I have to start defending people who made more than an entry level salary, as if there was something wrong with that? What was wrong me steering away from neighborhoods that were really far from where that OP would work? What was so offensive about me pointing out nice neighborhoods? Oh, because I left off some not so nice ones. But do I really want to point someone to a bad neighborhood for the sake of political correctness, and pretend all areas of the city are equal? They aren’t. And this may be a blog, but I don’t want to waste a real OP’s time guiding them to a neighborhood they have no business going to. One other poster didn’t like the fact that I dissapproved of a certain very northern Manhattan neighborhood. That area has many nooks and crannies and parks, and last year a teacher was raped in one on the way to school. Yeah, crime happens everywhere, but I don’t tell single women to go move to those areas just to prove a point on a blog. Believe me, it’s no fun going home alone late at night in northern manhattan. you need to be on guard. The other person also argued I was being elitist by saying you can’t get an apartment under $1400 here. They insisted you could get one for $1100. That night I checked real estate ads, and lo and behold, they were all $1300+. It’s not helpful to tell someone on a blog they can live on $$$(insert low #) and partially set their expectation of what things cost here. what if that OP moved to NY thinking they could live in $xyz based on reader’s input here, and then couldn’t pay their bills?!!?!

              This is an example of the type of “editing” of my and others’ comments I’m not understanding lately. I thought I was being nice guiding the OP to a nice area to live, and instead I get told that all of this stuff is wrong with me. In this example of the nose ring, so many pile ons, and many..while they pertained to what I wrote, really assumed alot of not-so-nice intent that is just not there in real life.

              And that is going to drive people away from here. Do people really want a discussion where we all just say “you are right,” “no you are more right?!”

              1. Rutendo*

                Steve, I sincerely hope you don’t stop reading this blog. Discussions should be give and take. I can understand how a pile on would make one feel. Not the greatest feeling in the world. Although I did disagree with your views, I think the biggest takeaway here is perhaps to be mindful of repeating the same point over and over again when we comment.

              2. Katie the Fed*

                Steve, I think you’re either being disingenuous or obtuse here. I actually missed this discussion the day it happened, but I can totally understand everyone’s reaction.

                The problem wasn’t that you disagreed about piercings. The problem was that you conflated attractiveness and employability. And you ABSOLUTELY did, whether you intended to or not.

                See, the question was – do piercings make one less employable or seem less professional.

                You answered with a response about attractiveness (“very unattractive on a woman”).

                What that means is either you didn’t understand (or ignored) the question, or that you conflate attractiveness with employability and professionalism – which is a big issue for women who are often judged for their looks first, and value to the workplace second. It’s exceedingly frustrating that our value is often tied up in our looks, not skills.

                So, you did touch a nerve and I think you need to understand why that was. If you misspoke, then say so. But you can’t really get so outraged about people responding to the words you wrote.

                Again – it’s not because you don’t like piercings. It’s because in your answer you said something really inappropriate and offensive, and I think you’re missing that.

          5. Joey*

            I tend to agree with you about the piling on. Its pretty depressing to see a barrage of mean spirited comments. I’ve experienced it myself when I made a comment about how my wife and I manage our finances that everyone interpreted as sexist.

            1. The Real Ash*

              I agree, as I have had people make rude comments at me on here before. But he has to understand that people are making legitimate points that he isn’t responding to. He complains about other people not seeming like they’re grown up, but then when he doesn’t get a favorable pile-on, he takes his toys and goes home. He refuses to see why his attitude might be an issue to some commenters, and instead of taking this opportunity as a way to “grow up” or change his vocabulary or what have you, he just dismisses everything, cries about being picked on, and then rage quits.

              I would say that there are commenters on here who could be perfect doubles for tumblr SJWs, but Alison generally keeps a good leash on that sort of behavior. It’s sad that Steve’s reaction is what it is, but that doesn’t mean other commenters should censor themselves because they don’t want someone to have their feelings hurt.

              1. Joey*

                There is a difference between making a point and being rude. Its a much better discussion without all of the smart ass remarks.

                Also telling someone to “grow up” isn’t real effective. All of those things just put people on the defensive.

          6. Anonymous*

            Hi, Steve, OP#2 here. Just so we’re clear on whether I ‘should’ or ‘shouldn’t’ have a nose piercing: I’m a 32 year old woman, I’ve spent the past 10 years climbing various corporate ladders. I currently work for a Fortune 100 company in a management role. I’m leaving this company for a role that offers me still more professional growth and opportunity. I own my own house (at one point, I owned two). I don’t do recreational drugs or get overly drunk, not because I judge those who do, but because it’s just not my bag. Am I sufficiently grown up?

          7. Jeff A.*

            Ok, I feel compelled to chime in here. I get what Steve is saying. I’m a male, and I have a full beard. I keep it trimmed, but it’s not subtle 5 oclock shadow. It’s a full beard. (Not a civil war beard, but probably a little longer than what most men with beards who have professional jobs would have theirs).

            Rightly or wrongly, I’m aware of the fact that if I interview with someone who has a particular dislike of the bearded man look, I’m going to be at a disadvantage. Do I care if a female interviewer thinks my beard makes me look unattractive? Well, I don’t in the sense that I couldn’t care less about a woman other than my girlfriend finding me attractive, but I *DO* in the sense that it might have impact on whether I get an offer or not.

            I think that’s the crux of Steve’s original point. Rightly or wrongly, the OP is going to potentially be in a situation where appearance could influence a hiring decision.

            And for whatever it’s worth, I don’t shave my beard for interviews or jobs. It’s part of who I am and how I choose to present myself, and if your piercing or body mods are an important part of your personal brand or style or what-have-you, then you have to decide if you’re willing to compromise on that for a job.

            1. Jamie*

              I agree with what you’re saying here.

              I don’t care if people find me attractive or not, outside of my husband, in the personal sense…but if people found my look off-putting it would impact me professionally.

              If attractive is shorthand for “not off-putting” rather than in the sense of someone to whom you’re personally attracted, that’s one thing…but it’s important to know that evaluating the attractiveness of women in the context of the workplace has such an ugly history for (almost?*) all of us that it’s good for people to know this particular shorthand won’t serve them well.

              *Is there any woman who has had a job for more than 10 minute who hasn’t had some issues surrounding their looks? Few things in life are universal, but I would think it’s a rare woman that didn’t have any history with this somewhere along the line.

              1. Karowen*

                Just responding to your asterisk – I’ve only worked in one office, but I’ve been here over 5 years and I don’t think I have! There were some issues with a fellow (female) co-worker slapping my hand away from food (as I’ve mentioned before, I’m overweight) but we talked about that and she was mortified that I interpreted it that way. I know my experience is (sadly) by no means the norm, but there is (maybe) hope for the world! :D

            2. jag*

              What I find wrong about Steve’s comment is that, to him, that one thing completely overrides the rest of the the person’s appearance. In your case, it’s not just that having a beard puts you at a small disadvantage, it’s saying “No matter how else you look, that one thing is the key factor.”

              That’s just stupid hiring, assuming he’s in a position to be hiring people. It’s not looking at the whole picture.

              AnonyMouse says it very well below: “But many responsible adults with impressive careers do have nose piercings, and the number seems to be increasing, so it may be a good idea not to automatically discount those who have them. “

              1. Jeff A.*

                Look, I don’t disagree with your view that this stinks of a bad approach to hiring. But in practice, don’t most hiring decisions come down to one or two subtle differences between candidates? I mean, I think we can assume that if Candidate A is far and away unquestionably the best fit for the job, s/he is getting an offer. But particularly in a competitive job market (as we read regularly here on AAM) it’s pretty rare that you’re not competing against candidates as qualified or more qualified than you.

                And there’s a very strong correlation between success (at least measured by income) and perceived attractiveness, so let’s slow down on jumping on Steve because it seems to be a systemic thing and not a one off instance that we can easily dismiss by saying he doesn’t represent the norm.

          8. aebhel*

            ….yeah, I got nothing.

            You realize that nobody would have a problem with you saying you find them unprofessional, right? It’s specifically the ‘unattractive’ bit that got peoples’ hackles up. And the ‘clean girls’ bit. And…well, pretty much every part of your comment except the part where you wouldn’t hire someone with facial piercings.

            Also, hi. I have a professional, white-collar 9-5 job, and a number of visible piercings and tattoos. Your office in Manhattan =/= every office everywhere.

          9. Meg*

            27-year-old senior software engineer making six figures, checking in.

            I have a nose ring, multiple ear piercings, and visible tattoos. And currently green hair.

            Before that, I was a senior mobile web application developer for the US division of a global bank at their US headquarters… with my nose ring, multiple piercings, and visible tattoos. And blue/green hair.

            Before that, I was a mobile web application developer for the US Dept of Health and Human Services… with a nose ring, multiple piercings, and visible tattoos. And red hair.

            I’ve never been late on rent, car payment, or car insurance. Never been fired. Don’t have a criminal record, my credit isn’t that bad (anymore), and sometimes I work from home during the week, or have a shifted scheduled to accommodate for time-off during the week so I have a chance to get some errands done between 9-5.

            I’m sorry you’ve only met 3-10 people with nose rings that were unsavory charlatans. 72% of American women are pierced, and of that 72%, 19% have nose rings. It was a good attempt to correlate life decisions, but that makes the assumption that getting a nose ring is a poor life decision. Which… it’s not.

            1. Ellala*

              Yeah, I’m a lawyer in Manhattan, and I have a nose piercing, as do at least 3 other women attorneys in my office. Though I believe his argument to be flawed even without this, it’s hard not to chime in that the facts he used as underlying support are not accurate.

          10. Elizabeth West*

            I’m sorry, Steve, but you can’t generalize every single person who has a facial piercing by the few noisy weird ones you knew in NYC. Or by the people who work in Manhattan. Clearly there are enough responses to show you that no, not everyone with a nose ring is an irresponsible, noisy, unemployed weirdo. Sorry you can’t see that.

            I know we shouldn’t stereotype, but…

            (but I’m gonna do it anyway!)

            There’s a good reason for not stereotyping, sweetie. Because you will almost always be wrong.

          11. Bea W*

            My stance, now that this is the last comment I will ever post here is: the question is a question that shouldn’t be asked because adults shouldn’t have nose rings.

            Then why not just say that? It is the singling out and judging women specifically that people jumped all over.

            I’m really perplexed by how someone can live and work in one of the largest cities in the country and demonstrate such limited life experiences with people and culture. I’m not referring to the opinions, but the reasons being used to support those opinions. “NEVER have I seen someone in a professional position in any of the corporate office I’ve worked at in Manhattan with a nose ring.” How does that extrapolate to anything other than “People don’t wear nose rings to the office where I work.”?

            1. jag*

              “I’m really perplexed by how someone can live and work in one of the largest cities in the country and demonstrate such limited life experiences with people and culture. ”

              I’m reminded of the lack of diversity on the TV show Friends…..

              1. Beyonce Pad Thai*

                Friends, Seindfeld, How I Met Your Mother, … all shows set in NYC that I have watched and enjoyed but the lack of diversity really is staggering

                1. jag*

                  Seinfeld has no diversity in the core four characters, but MUCH more in the bit characters with recurring roles than Friends or HIMYM.

                  From having lived in NYC for a long time, I know lots of white people like those in Seinfeld – it’s easy to be like them in terms of not having deep interactions with people of other races – so it reflects the reality of limited cross-race interaction. For Friends, they’d really have to work at it to stay that excluded. Much worse.

          12. Sal*

            I work in the legal field in NYC and many colleagues have nose rings. Even ones who go to court and do trial work. Your world is not as wide as you think it is.

      2. Kelly L.*

        And now there’s this “twerking” that all the kids are doing–that’s something to do with drugs, right?


      3. Lefty*

        I was thinking June Cleaver. “Ward, I’m worried about the Beaver. I think he may be thinking about doing pot with that sneaky Larry Mondello kid.”

    10. Verde*

      Because no other human being without tattoos and piercings, male or female, has ever been stoned or obnoxiously drunk? Ever been to Vegas? A frat party? A club? Any club? Ever?

      1. Ms. Clean*

        Stoned? Check
        Obnoxiously drunk? Check
        Ever been to Vegas? Not yet. Ask me in 3 weeks when I get back from Vegas.
        A frat party? Not literally. Parties that involved the first 2 things on the list? Check.
        A club? Any club? Ever? Check, check, and check.
        Tattoos? Nope.
        Piercings? Nope.

    11. AnonyMouse*

      Most of the replies to your post have covered what I want to say pretty well, but I wanted to respond anyway with some more perspective. Anecdotally, I’ve observed and heard that some piercings, including subtle nose piercings, are becoming more popular and acceptable on professionals. Several people commenting here are saying that they have facial piercings as professionals. You are of course free to dislike them, and if you are in a position of authority at a workplace, you are also free to prohibit them. But many responsible adults with impressive careers do have nose piercings, and the number seems to be increasing, so it may be a good idea not to automatically discount those who have them. Norms around appearance, fashion, and body modification change pretty quickly – back when I was a teenager, for example, I got my ears double pierced, and my mom came with me to do the same. When she was growing up, it was apparently considered edgier, but by that time the standards had changed enough in my region that my mom, who is fairly conservative when it comes to fashion choices, thought multiple ear piercings looked cool and wanted them! So you never know how quickly these kinds of opinions can become outdated, and it might be a good idea not to cling to them too firmly.

      And as you’ve noticed, many commenters have already addressed your remark about finding these piercings on women “unattractive,” but I wanted to as well. It’s fine for you to share your opinion on whether facial piercings are professional or not here, and a lot of people might be interested to hear more input on that. But when you make unsolicited comments about what makes women attractive or unattractive to you in the comments section of a blog dedicated to work issues, some women are going to take offense at that, because the issue of whether women are considered attractive or not is normally irrelevant to their professionalism (unless they’re models, I guess!), but many women often feel an unfair amount of pressure to conform to others’ standards of beauty. I say all this as a woman with no facial piercings, and assuming good intent on your behalf, I wanted to offer a bit of perspective on why you’re getting so much backlash.

    12. Joey*


      Id drop the whole attractiveness thing if I were you. You’ll get reamed.

      Although I do agree with you that plenty of people find them unprofessional (which is what I hope you meant.). Personally if you’re dressed well and they aren’t distracting I could care less. A septum ring though I don’t think would go over well in most places. Small nose studs and arm tats are just now starting to be accepted in the average professional environment. Everything else is still uncomfortable in most places.

    13. Eliza Jane*

      Was there anything in the letter to suggest the LW was a woman? And if he was a man, would you also think it made him look like an overgrown teenager and be less likely to hire him? If so, why did you specify “woman” and “girls” multiple times in your post?

    14. aebhel*

      And unless you’re hiring a professional model, I assume you don’t make hiring decisions based on what you, personally, find attractive on a woman?

      Well, good then.

  13. Modded*

    I have a 12 gauge offset lip piercing that I have never taken out for interviews. I got it in 1998 and the only times I’ve been asked if I would be willing to take it out were by temp agencies when I was just starting out after college before facial piercings were so ubiquitous. It’s so much a part of me and I’ve become so used to it that I hardly notice it anymore. I don’t think I’ve had anyone mention it (other than to ask if it hurt when I got it) in a decade or so. Taking it out is just not negotiable for me. If a piercing bothers you that much, what other inconsequential things I do or say are going to nag at you over time? It would be a sign that it wasn’t a place I’d want to work and I’d be okay with trying again until I found a group of people who didn’t care. I think body mods have become much more accepted now and unless your field is very conservative, I would really be surprised if anyone questioned it. Some people aren’t quite as attached to their piercings as I am to mine, though.

    1. Mallorie, the recruiter*

      I was only 16 when I got a tattoo on my hand and my mom was worried it would hurt my job prospects as I got older. I thought A LOT about it and decided that if someone would rather hire a less qualified untattoo’d person because of that, that I would prefer to work elsewhere. My career has done quite well :-) And like you, I often forget about my tattoos and am rarely asked about them. No one cares anymore!

    2. AnonyMouse*

      Yeah, one of my closest friends has a facial piercing and an “alternative” haircut and does wonderfully in the work world! I definitely think the conventional wisdom about certain body modifications making you unemployable is becoming less relevant. Probably depends a bit on the field, though. But I like your perspective on it :)

    3. Joey*

      I used to have this exact view when I had long hair with shaved sides and a few piercings…….until I realized I couldn’t get the type of job I wanted because of it.

      1. My Two Cents...*

        joey – ever thought that maybe it was a crummy attitude or lack of qualifications/experience, not the body mod, that hurt your job prospects?

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Whoa. Where did that come from? That seems unnecessarily personal, and I assume his point is that he did get the jobs he wanted once he changed his appearance.

          1. My Two Cents...*

            “…until I realized I couldn’t get the type of job I wanted because of it.”
            i certainly read this line as “but you can’t get a job lookin’ like a dummy”.

            every coworker/colleague that i’ve encountered over the last 7 years has always held a positive attitude about my hair/earrings/whatever, which i do tone-down some when i’m at work.

            however, it’s the random small-minded large-mouthed strangers that feel it’s their civic duty to alert me to the fact that ‘i’ll never get a job looking like that’.

            1. Joey*

              Nope. More like I was in your shoes and held the same views until I figured out that unless you want to limit your options you have to play by other people’s rules regardless of whether they’re wrong.

              1. My Two Cents...*

                oh. i completely disagree with you and think that line of thinking is rather sad/pessimistic.

                you actually weren’t ‘in my shoes’ because i still landed an excellent career straight out of college with my ‘non-traditional appearance’. i landed a job 3 months before my graduation date…well before most of my classmates.

                my options are hardly limited. i even receive many ‘headhunter’ calls based on my linkedin profile, where my profile picture shows my pixie-short bleach-white platinum hair (and dark roots) and stretched lobes.

        2. Joey*

          Yes, until my moms friend in HR told me to take out my earrings and come back with a regular haircut when I interview.

          1. jag*

            I lived with some guys with serious hippie hair and they said they were treated very differently when they cut their hair.

          2. My Two Cents...*

            well, joey. i didn’t mean any outward malice.

            but, i’m sure getting any job search advice helped your overall confidence/attitude, and gave you some reassurance you were ‘doing the right thing’. and that attitude alone can really help win an interviewer over.

            1. Tinker*

              Not to put words in your mouth, but it seems like what you were aiming at was maybe a “you can’t step in the same river twice” sort of thing?

              If I were to apply Joey’s logic to my career, I’d have to conclude that career success was proportional to number of voluntary perforations and degree of nontraditional appearance, because I was fairly goody-goody in the early bits of my career that and have since somewhat shed that; meanwhile, I’ve started to get more of what I’ve aimed at.

              However, I don’t know as it would make sense to go out and advise folks to pierce their wouldn’tyouliketoknow in order to succeed in business. There might be some degree of connection between the two things, in that my decisions reflect greater confidence and willingness to make a distinct stand; they also may make me a bit more relatable and distinct in people’s minds. But also, I’m not actually the same person as I was back then so comparing the two is dangerous.

              Not that I don’t think it’s probable that in certain industries and regions, a person could see a dramatic change in prospects from a simple change in appearance — but, overall, a person could see a dramatic change in prospects from a change in maturity that in one set of circumstances prompts one change and in another place prompts a very different one.

    4. Traveler*

      I think it depends on where you live to in addition to what field you’re in. In the US for instance there are cities where no one would even think about the piercing/tattoo, and others where any kind at all would become an issue.

  14. some1*

    Referring to women as “girls” in the workplace and deciding norms for women should be dictated by your personal preferences kinda screams overgrown teenager louder, imo.

  15. OP#2*

    Hi, all, I’m the OP for question #2, the septum-ring wearer. I do definitely get the viewpoints on those of you who just flip it up and out of the way. That’s how I handled interviews I’ve been on. However, I can’t STAND the feeling of it up my nose, and my goal was to obtain a role where I specifically don’t have to worry about hiding things like this; I also have half sleeve tattoos that I have no intention of constantly covering up at this stage in my career. I was quite strongly sought after for this role, and I did make sure to specifically inquire about the policy, as I know a company that takes issue with this is a company that’s a bit more controlling than I’d feel comfortable with. So, long story short, I do intend for it to be something my manager and I find a way to come to terms with, I just wasn’t sure how to broach it. I was very comfortable with Alison’s suggestion, but I also see the value in those comments saying it might be better to ask rather than state. I was planning on sending the email in the next couple of days, so I’ll consider my approach until then. Thanks for all the insight!

    1. NK*

      I realize it’s late for this now, but as to the general question of how to handle this, rather than asking the vague question of whether there are any rules against tattoos and piercings, I’d ask the question more specifically after receiving the offer and before accepting it. I’d just say something like, “I have half sleeve tattoos and a septum ring and wanted to make sure that having these visible at work isn’t going to be an issue or a strong cultural mismatch.” But at this stage, I think Alison’s advice is spot on of (respectfully) telling rather than asking, and citing that you had already addressed this with HR. Good luck in your new role!

      1. OP#2*

        Good call, NK, and one that I’ll hold to in the future. I could have been more assertive right from the start. I still do stand by taking the piercing out for the interview, as I see it as a sign of heightened professionalism (like wearing a suit that I certainly wouldn’t plan on wearing every day). But rather than vaguely skirting the issue, I could ask more clearly. And thanks to you and Beyonce for the well wishes!

    2. Molly*

      I agree that those comments have value, but if you’re not willing to compromise, I think asking is a bad idea. What will you say if she emails you back and very casually says “That’s not really normal here; please take it out.” Then you’ll have to go back and tell her you’re not willing… awkward!

      1. Mints*

        Agreed. I think asking is only okay if you’re willing to modify it to be hidden at work (flipping, or stud version) or let it close. But if you’re planning to keep it, politely informing is more the way to approach it

  16. Juni*

    My rule of thumb was, don’t ever take out a piercing for an interview unless you either plan to do that daily if you get the job, or plan to never put it back in again after you get the job. I wear a small silver stud in my nose that people barely notice thanks to the small size and excellent nose-fold placement. But I don’t want to take it out, and I have a choice: work someplace where it’s not a big deal, or take it out if I want to work someplace where it is. A close friend of mine wears a flat disc in her nostril, and every single day, she takes a tiny blob of some sort of putty and covers it before she goes to work. That’s dedication.

    If you have a septum piercing, and the answer is “no, you can’t wear visible jewelry in that,” you wear a retainer and flip it up. If your retainer is uncomfortable, check out different materials; I survived a cold cold Chicago winter with a PFTE retainer in, and it wasn’t bad. Flexible, and didn’t freeze the tip of my nose off.

  17. Anon*

    Just don’t wear a nose ring when in a food serving role, most people don’t want food served to them by someone with something hanging out of their nose, even if it is there intentionally.

    1. Natalie*

      YMMV – food service and bartending in my city are far less conservative, dress-wise, than office work and thus your server is way, way more likely to have a visible piercing.

      1. Kelly L.*

        +1. And in some types of establishments, I think it can even be a plus, if they’re going for an alternative/punk vibe (as in many coffeehouses and bars).

  18. Jeanne*

    When I see some nose piercings, all I can think is that must have hurt getting that piercing. Actually, apply that thought to all facial piercings. It just makes it harder for me to concentrate on talking to them. (I do not have any hiring power. I don’t know but my feelings might affect an interview.)

    1. Verde*

      You: Did that hurt?
      Me: Yes, it did hurt.
      Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, hopefully we can concentrate on other conversational subjects.. :)

    2. Andrea*

      I’ve seen several women with nose studs that I thought looked really cool, but I usually just feel envious that my constant state of nasal congestion (I have year-round indoor & outdoor allergies and chronic sinusitis) means that a nose stud is probably not for me.

      1. Lynne*

        I have a nose stud and a constantly runny nose (unless I take my allergy meds! take your allergy meds!) and the nosering hasn’t really been a complication for me. I have a “nostril screw” meaning it has a screwy end inside my nose and I just bend that (with needlenose pliers) in such a way that it doesn’t move around. The constantly runny nose is an issue, but unrelated and unimpacted by my nosering.

        1. Andrea*

          Hahaha, believe me, I DO take my allergy meds. They help, but they don’t make the symptoms completely go away. But good to know, re: stuffy nose and nose studs. I thought it surely would be an issue.

      2. Nancie*

        My nose is always stuffed up, and right now I have a cold. I had the same concerns about a nose stud, but they’ve turned out to be non-issues. I’ve had mine for 3 or 4 years now, with no problems. Well, just one problem — once in a while a washcloth will try to steal it. You have to watch out for the terrycloth, it’s sneaky. ;)

      3. Suz*

        My sister has a nose stud and chronic allergies. She finds it better to leave it in. If she takes the stud out, she blows snot bubbles out the hole.

    3. Helka*

      Of all the things I’ve gotten needles jammed into my body for — piercings, blood donation, injections — the injections hurt way more than the piercings, at least in my experience. (For the record: two eyebrow piercings)

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Oh yeah, I hear you. I have a rather large tattoo on my left upper arm and except for the end bit around the back where the skin is delicate, it barely hurt at all (two and a half hours listening to thrash metal while I got it was worse). But BOY have I had some shots that hurt like a bitch!

      2. CA Admin*

        My eyebrow piercing was my least painful body mod. It hurt less than the tattoo, the ear piercings, or the ear lobe stretching. All of these things hurt less than blood draws or injections, personally.

      1. Jeanne*

        Well sure. I just wonder if I could interview properly if that was on my mind. After a few weeks with someone, I probably wouldn’t care anymore.

  19. Irene*

    I have had a nose piercing since 2010, and I have never worn visible jewelry to an interview or to work. I never asked about policies – just never thought about it. For work, I wear a small, clear, flat-topped piercing retainer. It makes the piercing completely invisible and keeps the piercing from closing. You can find jewelry companies that sell them in packs of 10 on eBay for good prices. There are also clear retainers the second writer could use.

    The first writer has me wondering if her piercing is not completely healed or even infected. It should not be painful and a problem to change jewelry. If the piercing is not completely healed or is infected, do not use non-metal jewelry in it. Plastic, etc. is porous and can cause infection in unhealed piercings.

    1. Just Visiting*

      I have a lot of cartilage piercings in one ear, all healed for years, and I can’t change my jewelry. I can’t get a good grip on the captive bead. Not sure about noses, it does seem like it should be easier to get a good angle/grip on your nose vs. your ear.

      1. chewbecca*

        Captive beads are the worst. I have a rook piercing with a small, curved barbell and I really hope I don’t have some sort of medical emergency that requires its removal.

        1. chewbecca*

          Oops, I realize that what I have isn’t a captive bead, but I do have experience trying to get one back in after an ex removed his eyebrow ring for something.

          Mine screws on and that’s why I hope the only time I take it out is by my choice. Not as bad as a captive bead, but still not fun.

      2. CA Admin*

        Any piercing shop should be able to help you remove your jewelry. I have some barbells with tiny threads in the bead that are really hard to do by myself–sometimes I can, but when I can’t there’s always someone at the shop who can help me. It’s usually $5-10 for jewelry placement/removal, depending on where you live.

    2. Annie*

      I was thinking that she might have a sensitivity to the metal used… I have quasi sensitive ears- made more so after my second holes in my ears- and my sister has extremely sensitive skin- to the point of having a scar near her belly button from a belt buckle before anyone realized how sensitive her skin was. She got her nose pierced this summer and had to get a special piece that was nickle free. When she was in high school and not realizing what was causing the issue it hurt her to take earrings in and out. It might be a sensitivity thing more than an infection (though they do present similarly).

      1. Selkie*

        Body piercings should always be titanium. Failing that, stainless steel, which isn’t ideal as it has trace amounts of nickel.

        I’d have blistered scarring all over if my jewellery had nickel in it. Shudder.

        1. CA Admin*

          I’ve also seen some people use glass for newly stretched piercings because it’s hypoallergenic and nonporous.

    3. Abhorsen327*

      You can also find really nice glass retainers for nose piercings (I think Gorilla Glass makes them) – glass is safe to wear even in a piercing that’s not completely healed or just a little bit angry, it’s easy to insert and remove, and clear glass is much more subtle as a retainer than clear plastic is.

  20. Amanda*

    At my previous firm, we were interviewing interns. One showed up with a visible foot tattoo. While her work was good, we felt the fact that she showed up like that said something about her judgement. We were also concerned that clients would be put off by it. While ours is a creative business, we don’t want to do anything or present an appearance that might prejudice potential clients against us. Another intern showed up with a very small diamond stud in her nose. While it was actually more tasteful than the previous interviewee’s tattoo, ultimately, we chose another equally qualified person who showed up for her interviews with no visible piercings or tattoos.

    My husband does a lot of hiring, at his tech firm and visible tattoos and facial piercings and weird hair colors don’t generally get hired. The overall consensus being that if an interviewee does not possess the good judgement to present themselves professionally during an interview, where else will they exercise poor judgement?

    1. some1*

      Did the foot tattoo show through socks or hose? To me, going sockless to an interview is unprofessional, whether you have tattoos or not.

      1. Jamie*

        How would you wear socks with pumps or other dress shoes? And hose isn’t a socially required thing anymore, although if she wanted to cover it I’ve seen some dark tights that would do it.

        1. fposte*

          It’s not super-conservative, but you can do it pretty reasonably with Mary Jane type shoes. I’ve done that at conferences when I’ve blistered myself beyond moleskin.

      2. Calla*

        Tattoos will definitely show unless you’re wearing opaque tights. I used to cover mine with professional makeup and wore hose, and if you looked really close (not that any interviewer would) you could still see a hint of it.

        1. Diet Coke Addict*

          I think this varies pretty heavily by a number of factors. I have multiple foot tattoos and today I am wearing hose (because I am going to an interview) and I cannot see them–one is pretty thick and dark, too. I’m wearing particularly dark/heavy hose, though. So it is certainly possible to have invisible foot tats with hose, BUT I have lighter hose that you can see them through. So all mileage varies!

        2. Chinook*

          Ditto on it depends on the tattoo. I have one on my calf that makes an apperance every spring and goes into hiding once the snow flies. Unless I am wearing sheer nylons, I can usually hid Eeyore with grey or black nylons or rights. But, then again, I chose this design specifically so he could be camoflaged if the situation called for it.

          1. Calla*

            I guess I just wasn’t thinking about black hose, since I’ve never seen anyone wear those to an interview (to the office yes but not an interview). I’m surprised it can be hidden by grey hose (not tights), but then again mine are definitely not designed to be hidden!

    2. Calla*

      Legit, it’s hard for me to tell if this comment is serious or not! Assuming it is… You 100% reserve the right to not hire those people, but should consider that is has zero to do with lacking good judgment and much more to do with good judgement about finding the right fit. When I was job searching years ago, I was careful to hide my tattoos and dyed my hair back to a normal color. Now, I know that would probably be the safer choice, but it is non-negotiable for me to work somewhere where they would expect that (especially somewhere that would take a candidate out of the running for a small nose stud, which is so tame at this point), so recently I have interviewed with my visible tattoos and purple hair. I’m sure someone thought I was a perpetual child with poor judgment because of it, but fortunately it didn’t hinder my search.

      1. Amanda*

        Calla, that’s an excellent point you make about finding the right fit. If purple hair and tattoos are an important part of your identity, and you would not be happy in an environment that dressed more conservatively, then it’s best for everyone to know that up front. In our case, this was a mid-sized design firm. We could not take a chance on prejudicing a potential client. Additionally, since everyone would potentially be interfacing with our clients, we felt they needed to show that they could exercise good judgement concerning professional dress for our particular environment. We needed our clients to feel comfortable entrusting us with designing and overseeing large projects for them.

    3. Joey*

      Would you mind explaining how a tattoo is bad judgement?

      Also, did you consider that having someone with a tatoo or piercing might actually bring in some new business that identified with those things?

      1. Amanda*

        Joey, we did not feel that having a tattoo was poor judgement. Rather, we felt showing up for an interview with tattoos exposed was an indicator of poor judgement. We actually did not care if someone had tattoos, and some of our designers did have them and kept them discreetly covered while at work. While taking an edgier approach is a model that works for some very good design firms, our branding was more conservative and marketed toward developers and CEO’s, etc. Again, Calla’s point about fitting in with the culture of the company is a very good one.

        1. Elizabeth*

          Ditto this for my employer, a hospital. No visible ink, no facial piercings, no hair color not found in nature. If your ears are pierced, no more than two in each ear.

          We’re up front about our dress code. It’s available to review if applicants click on the link on our website. And yet we still have new hires show up on their first day with full sleeves uncovered, cheek & nose piercings and a full ring of studs on an ear, usually with neon streaks in the hair. They get sent home with a copy of the dress code and told to come back the next day. It is rare they return for a second day. Cultural fit is everything.

          1. jag*

            I’ve got to wonder about the point of these types of dress codes.

            The hospital serves the community right? I can see requiring people to be neat and clean, but the community presumably has people with piercings and tattoos in it too and it seems to me a work force that better reflects the variety in the community would be appealing.

            I guess if your hospital only serves old people, then appearing more conservative and less diverse than the community as a whole makes sense.

            1. AnonyMouse*

              I would guess it’s because the goal in a hospital is to care for the patients and make them feel comfortable. Anything in the staff’s appearance that distracts patients from their roles as care professionals could reasonably be prohibited. And some people do feel less comfortable around people with tattoos or piercings, especially older people. I would argue that this is deeply misguided, but some people do feel that way. While it’s possible they have a lot of patients who are also tattooed/pierced, people with body modifications don’t typically feel uncomfortable around people who don’t have them (in my experience anyway), so a person with no visible tattoos has the most chance of making everyone, tattooed or not, feel comfortable. Hospitals tend to be pretty conservative, appearance-wise – a lot of people will be wearing uniforms, for instance. But I think the key thing here is that they’re explicit about their dress code, and some people still don’t follow it on their first day. That’s the poor judgement part, not the tattoos/piercings.

    4. AnonyMouse*

      This is a fair point, and in a client-facing industry I certainly understand the desire to prevent an appearance that could cost you business. Still, I’d say that when you’re interviewing interns, you might want to cut them *slightly* more slack when it comes to this kind of judgement than you would more experienced candidates. Many interns have never worked in an office/in a specific field before, and part of the point of internships is to educate them about what it’s like (especially when they’re unpaid). It sounds like in this case you were faced with a choice between multiple equally good candidates, and I get how something small could be the deciding factor there. But in the future, if a good intern candidate has a small nose piercing, for instance, you could explain that in your field, facial piercings are generally inappropriate for the office, and ask her to leave the stud out for the time she works with you. Especially since facial piercings are becoming increasingly acceptable (just see this comment section!), many young people may not even be aware that it’s considered poor judgement to have a subtle nose piercing.

    5. Traveler*

      Re: the tech industry – this sounds like it may be specific to where you live. As the places I have lived that have major tech centers, it was pretty common to see tattoos/piercings/dyed hair (men and women). People could be coming in with the understanding that those things are normal where they came from, and therefore don’t discount from their professionalism. I think assuming they “don’t possess good judgement” is problematic.

      1. CA Admin*

        My husband is a software developer in the SF Bay Area with large tattoos on his forearms. He typically covers them for interviews (because he’s wearing a long-sleeved shirt), but doesn’t for work. He’s never had a problem in the tech sector, but he definitely covered them when he worked in finance.

    6. looloo*

      That is interesting about your husband’s tech firm not typically hiring those with facial piercings/tattoos/strange colored hair, it really shows how much an industry can vary geographically.

      Where I live, tech companies hardly bat an eye at any of those things (sometimes they actually kind of look for them), and if you show up for an interview in a business suit or suit of any kind, it actually can be a big negative and work against you!

    7. lachevious*

      I have been in the legal field for 7 years, with visible tattoos. The only time my “foot” tattoo was a problem was in Federal court in Arizona (yuck memories). I solved that problem with a band-aid. For those of you with larger tattoos, they make makeup especially for covering tats.

      Don’t let it hold you back. Surprise the hell out of them in 6 months and you’re a rockstar at the firm. Roll up the sleeves one night and let ’em all hang out :)

    8. jag*

      “The overall consensus being that if an interviewee does not possess the good judgement to present themselves professionally during an interview, where else will they exercise poor judgement?”

      This is a rather big leap of “logic.” He presumably has lots of people to choose from, so it’s no sweat of his back, but latching onto a single data point is not an ideal way to make complex/important decisions.

    9. Ellala*

      I have a nose piercing, and while I think this comment is a little over the top, I do think there’s something there about your interview attire demonstrating some things. I think it shows that you’re willing to follow the rules, that you pay attention to details and requirements, and that you’re taking it seriously. Though I also think it’s entirely possible that I think of interviews this way because I’m a lawyer, and interviews in this field are in some part demonstrating that you know how to present yourself in court.

  21. Sigrid*

    I live in an area with a high enough concentration of Hindus that nose piercings aren’t even blinked at (in my experience, not even if you’re white), and I work in the medical field, which is fairly conservative in terms of dress. A septum piercing would *probably* be a no-go at my hospital, though. #1, this is definitely a case of knowing your area and knowing your profession.

  22. Jamie*

    My biggest issue with nose piercings is that some people tend to play with them absentmindedly and I just cannot stand to see people with their fingers constantly fiddling with their noses.

    I agree with the advice to leave it out during interviews and then inquire about the policy if it’s important to you when you have an offer. Most people are far more formal during interviews than in their regular work, and if it can either be a neutral or harm you why take the chance?

    This will vary depending on the workplace, but in some places this will be a cause for discussion even if tptb don’t care – because it’s not seen much. There are still people out there who will consider tattoos and facial piercings as an impediment to moving up in professional positions, just as there are some who don’t care.

    My personal opinion? I wouldn’t care at all about a small nose stud, and likely wouldn’t even notice it (I’m not all that visually observant when it comes to faces.) The septum piercing would concern me because so many people play with them all the time, ditto lip rings. On a personal level all I see when I see those things is how painful they look to me, but I’d probably get over with someone I saw often.

    In food service is the only job where it would really bother me, as someone up thread mentioned there is just something really unappetizing about something coming out of someone’s nose or lip – even if intentional – and it would put a damper on my meal. I can see food service losing customers over this.

    1. some1*

      Just as an FYI, many cooks and chefs have nose and lip rings and work in restaurants where the kitchen staff are meant to be invisible.

      1. Jamie*

        I know, I’m not saying it’s a sanitation issue, but a visceral response issue. It’s when you see something unappetizing you are less inclined to enjoy your meal. I know from watching Kitchen Nightmares a lot of things go on unseen in restaurants with real risk…but since this is a visual thing if I never see the cook his nose ring is irrelevant to me.

        For any customer facing position the company needs to consider how these things will impact business.

        It works the other way, too. When I go into Journey’s or Zumies to buy something for my kids (or Vans for myself, even though I’m several hundred years old) almost all the counter staff there have piercings, gauges, and/or lots of tats. That’s the face of the company that works for them – I doubt very much they’d want to hire me in a customer facing role with none of the above and my middle aged nondescript style.

        My kids applied for holiday temp work last year – including both places. Never got call backs – one was hired on the spot at American Eagle and the other at Pink. Anyone’s look will either work for or against them, depending on the image of the company.

  23. Karyn*

    I’ve had my nose pierced about five times now with a tiny stud, and, much as I love it, I keep letting it close up because my allergies just won’t allow me to keep it in. Maybe now that I’ve gotten allergy shots I could try again…

    Anyway, that said, I got it pierced the first time when I was in college and working in the mall. No one said anything. Then, when I had my law school job, I came in with it the second time, as the receptionist at an accounting firm, and the only thing any of the partners said was, “That looks great with your fauxhawk.” They thought it made their firm look edgy to have a young twenty-something with a red fauxhawk and a nose piercing at the front desk. Now, as a thirty year old with a cupcake tattoo on her upper arm, my firm thinks my tattoos are cool, but I keep them covered most of the time. If someone happens to notice them, I shrug and go, “Yep, that’s a cupcake,” and then move along with my day. No one seems to care one way or another. I think it really is an office-to-office thing. That said, I wouldn’t display any body art to an interview unless it was to a creative-based industry job, and even then, it’s touch-and-go. My sister works for the corporate division of a national greeting card company that rhymes with Flamerican Meetings and her interviewer had half-sleeves.

  24. Lily in NYC*

    I’m embarrassed to admit that I have a negative visceral reaction to facial piercings. I have no moral issues with them and love to see tattoos and crazy hair colors, so I have no idea why this happens. It’s not that I think less of the person but I just don’t like looking at the piercings – I think it might be related to having a mild form of mysphonia. I like to think I would never hold it against a candidate but my concern is that I might do it subconsciously – which would suck. So my vote is to leave it out for interviews just to be safe.

    1. Jamie*

      I think everyone has reactions to things that we can’t control – so the goal isn’t to try to stop forming opinions based on our tastes and preferences, but to be aware of them so we can deliberately set them aside to evaluate fairly.

      I’ve had people ask me if they thought getting a tattoo would harm them professionally, in our industry, and my answer is always not with me (within reason – although I don’t have any) but I have been privy to enough conversations about candidates that it’s not without some risk as other people do consider visible (in work clothing) tats a sign of poor judgement.

      I’m not a fan of hair colors in shades not found in nature on adults. Doesn’t mean it has to be the color nature shoots of your head, but the blue, pink, green, etc. I just don’t get it. But when discussed here I realized it’s a thing a lot of people do or want to do, so rather than just have a knee jerk response I’d be aware of my reaction and then decide if it’s a factor. If it was a customer facing role in a company where customers would take issue with it, then it’s an issue. No company should have to lose business to support individual aesthetic choices. If it’s an accountant who will never deal with customers? It shouldn’t matter.

      But everyone has responses to things, if we didn’t respond to how other people look (for good or bad) there is no point in cosmetics, fashion, hair styles, etc. How we present to the world tells the world something about ourselves and we need to accept the judgement that comes with that.

      1. Helka*

        I think everyone has reactions to things that we can’t control – so the goal isn’t to try to stop forming opinions based on our tastes and preferences, but to be aware of them so we can deliberately set them aside to evaluate fairly.

        This is the truest thing I have read or heard today. I wish I could broadcast it to everyone.

      2. jag*

        “I think everyone has reactions to things that we can’t control – so the goal isn’t to try to stop forming opinions based on our tastes and preferences, but to be aware of them so we can deliberately set them aside to evaluate fairly.”


    2. Mints*

      I was thinking about these posts, and was kind of surprised by the people who don’t mind them generally but have a visceral reaction against them. (Nose rings are so common to me!)

      But then I realized I’m a little grossed out by the piercings that are just a stud into your skin, without the back piece. Nose, lips, ears, eyebrows, are totally fine. But when they just stick there… D: (that’s the actual face I make) Where’s the rest of it?

      So I’m suddenly more understanding, and still suggest hiding the piercing completely, and talking about it on offer

        1. Pennalynn Lott*

          Oh, man, I’d be the one who ripped one or two of them out because I was scratching and forgot about them.

  25. anon in tejas*

    know your office and your city. it’s amazing to me how much more conservative and/or professional different cities in Texas are. What flies in Austin doesn’t fly in Houston and vice versa. If you don’t know your office be wiling to (1) take the risk and understand that piercing may be the reason why you are denied some opportunities or (2) suck it up and give up the piercing, even if for the interview only.

    I’ve been in environments with the interview bait and switch. A prospective candidate comes in very professional looking, no visible tattoos or piercings and within a month, there are 3-4 visible tattoos out on a daily basis, when the rest of the office has none. It’s not exactly what the employer wanted, but then the employer is in the tough position to ask them to cover it up or addressing it otherwise.

    1. Pennalynn Lott*

      I worked at a conservative retail store back in the late 80’s in college. We hired a woman who had interviewed in a conservative blouse and skirt, and who had shoulder-length light brown hair. When she started a few days later, she was in biker boots, a mini skirt, a torn t-shirt over a tank top and had a bright blue mohawk. The owners just about died. They felt they’d been sold a bill of goods. We employees convinced the owners to keep her on (mostly because we wanted a less strict dress code and were hoping she’d blaze a trail), but – alas – she was a horrible worker and we all ended up begging for her to be let go a few weeks later.

  26. Rachel*

    I think that OP #2’s comment above is probably the most important point here: she was looking for a workplace where she would be able to wear the septum ring out, which effects how she’s going to handle this.

    I don’t have any facial piercings, but I do have some extra ear piercings – a pair of captive bead rings in the lower cartilage of my left ear. They’re pretty discreet, since I have thick hair that is almost always down, but when I got the first done my hair was longer and I frequently wore it in a ponytail. I was eighteen years old, and had an internship interview, and my mother (who did not like my piercing) freaked out that I wouldn’t get the internship because of my cartilage piercing. She made me pin my hair so that it would cover my ear no matter how I fussed with it.

    Well, my interviewer had a tongue piercing, I got the internship, and two weeks later I got the second cartilage piercing that I wanted. Since then, I haven’t worried about whether or not my piercings are visible in a job interview. I haven’t taken them out in 7+ years, and I don’t want to take them out. If someone is really going to not hire me because I have these piercings, it’s their loss, not mine, because I’m good at what I do.

  27. Lynne*

    I have a tiny nose stud (2mm) and have always left it in, even during interviews. That said, it’s so tiny that a coworker I’ve worked with closely for 2 years just realized I had one. My office now is business casual (more on the jeans-every-day end of casual) but generally pretty conservative. It honestly didn’t occur to me to take it out when I interviewed here. I might do a retainer if I were interviewing at other places for a higher job I might, but probably not. I totally get the sentiment behind it, but my nosering is hardly the most unusual thing about me that I’m open about at work, so if a nearly invisible nose stud takes me out of the running, they probably also won’t like knowing I have a genderqueer spouse either (and that’s something it’s taken a lot of work to be able to be open about, and I plan to continue being open about it, career problems be damned).

  28. College Career Counselor*

    “Particularly since a septum piercing is a more … aggressive? piercing…”

    I’d have gone with “in your face” over “aggressive.” ;-)

  29. hc*

    It blows my mind that a simple nose stud is seen as unprofessional. Maybe I’m showing my late-twenties bias (or west coast bias?), but I’ve had mine since 2007 and have changed the jewelry one time. I forget it’s there most of the time.

    1. OP #1*

      That’s why I wanted to ask the question — I know some people view it as “unprofessional,” but in my opinion, that mindset is a little old-fashioned. I was hoping that workplace norms would have changed with the times, but unfortunately that doesn’t seem to be the case (or at least its acceptance isn’t as widespread in the workplace as it is in regular life). Maybe another 10 or 20 years lol

      1. SubwayFan*

        I see them all the time, and most people wear studs or rings that are small and hardly noticeable. Hardly anyone notices the labret in my lip; I have a coworker who just noticed it last month after working with me for two years. Most people tell me it looks nice.

      2. Mouse*

        I had thought the norms had changed – more than is indicated by this thread. I’ve lived in many regions in the US – west, east, middle, southeast, southwest, and a small piercing would never be a big deal. When I first got my nose pieced more than 10 years ago, it was so popular I actually got annoyed that it had become so “mainstream.” I haven’t worn it for many years, but this thread kind of makes me want to get it re-pierced :)

        Oh, and I work in a traditionally conservative industry.

        1. Tinker*

          It’s hard to tell based on threads like this, I think. There’s something about body modification discussion on the Internet that brings out some odd perspectives that I think are expressed a lot more unevenly in real life.

          My suspicion is that the anonymous nature of the situation leads people to say and think things about a nose piercing on two legs that they would not dare say, and might not actually think, of an actual person they’d met who happens to have a superfluous nasal orifice, and that the wide availability of the Internet allows some rather rare fish to be drawn into the net.

  30. AmyNYC*

    I had to remove my nose piercing for a bakery job with a strict dress code (rhymes with… “Fanera”) and I found that the plastic “filler” stud was way more noticeable than a stud. Since then, I’ve worn it without problem at interview and to work. It very much depends on the rest of your “look” – I’m a fairly preppy dresser, so a shirt dress and ballet flats with a nose stud is less of an issue than say Doc Martens and a trench coat (I know I’m making a BIG generalization, but that’s kind of my point)

    1. Traveler*

      Interesting. Didn’t know their dress code was that strict (maybe the ones I’ve been to have been lax?) I hate when they make people wear bandaids over their facial piercings. That to me is far more unappealing than the piercing itself.

      1. Pennalynn Lott*

        Agreed. The Band-Aid is like a great big flag calling attention to the piercing. I only have pierced earlobes, but I love jewelry and all things sparkly and shiny, and would much rather see someone’s facial bling than a bandage.

  31. Clever Name*

    I’m actually surprised to hear so many negative reactions (especially the “unclean” comment in “girls”- wow) My personal opinion, is that if you want to play it safe, remove or cover facial piercings or tattoos. If it is part of your identity, and you would really chafe to have to keep it out/covered at work, wear it to the interview and see what happens. I work for a small company with a casual culture, and I doubt anyone would care. Our new marketer has very visible tattoos on her calves, and she frequently wears skirts/dresses. Nobody cares. I have purple hair. Nobody cares. There are companies out there (Tokyo Joe’s comes to mind) that foster a culture that encourages folks with body modifications to apply. I’ve gotten to the point where I’m not really interested in getting a tattoo (I don’t have one) to express my “individuality” because it seems everyone has one. ;)

  32. My Two Cents...*

    i’m a lady engineer that wears 5/8″ PCB ‘plugs’ in my ears. i work with customers/distis/etc in person probably 20% of my job. i haven’t taken my earrings out for a work-related meeting since my NCG interview for this job. i get a few “you know, your ears will never go back to normal’ comments from time to time, but for every negative comment i get i receive approx. 20 “oh man those are so cool”.

    i have two sizable tattoos down the back of each upper arm, as well as on the nape of my neck (by my surface piercing). you don’t see ’em comin’, but you certainly see them goin’. the one garners a lot of attention because it’s a schematic drawing, and the nape tattoo/piercing gets a few “did that hurt?” or “what IS that symbol?” (answer: another engineering thing).

    my 12ga septum ring is the ONLY body mod i don’t feel comfortable wearing ‘on display’ at work…yet. i have a ‘tusk’ that flips up into my nose, so no one even sees it. most of my coworkers have seen me outside of work while wearing it. however, i’ve just asked management to consider ‘allowing’ me to wear it at work…understanding that for customer meetings and/or office visitors i would still have to ‘flip’ it. it’s not that they’ve ever flat-out told me NO. it just seems polite to ask when someone falls outside the norm-realm for dress code.

  33. OP #1*

    It was interesting to read everyone’s responses to this. I’m disappointed to see some reactions that I think are a little too judgmental or narrow-minded. This isn’t the 1950s – people with tattoos or piercings shouldn’t automatically be associated with criminals, drug addicts, or general unpleasantness. I understand that different locations or areas of work have different norms for professionalism, especially those in client-facing roles, which is why I asked the question in the first place. But if someone has a nose piercing or tattoo and you infer things about them as a PERSON because of that… that’s just wrong. It’s more a reflection of your own biases, and you really need to give people a chance.

    Anyways, I did end up removing my piercing for my interview, just because I felt it’s better to be on the safe side in this crazy job market — though the idea of keeping it in is kinda tempting ;) I don’t think I’d want to work for a place where a little nose stud was such a big deal!

  34. NavyLT*

    I tend to associate piercings with teenage rebellion, primarily because that’s what prompted mine, which I removed probably a year or two before I joined the Navy. I don’t think they’re necessarily unprofessional, any more than tattoos, but it’s a matter of knowing the culture and being willing (or not) to fit in with it.

  35. GreatLakesGal*

    Pseudonym aside, I work in a large East Coast City, and facial piercings are absolutely viewed as unprofessional in my field. A quick look around my worksite shows that virtually no one wears piercings to work, ( and definitely no one leading a department!) and we are not a particularly stuffy company. Someone wearing a piercing to an interview would be judged for not gauging their interview attire to reflect company norms, and yes, their judgment would be suspect. As in, why didn’t they have the common sense to remove the hardware before interviewing?

  36. SubwayFan*

    When I was 29, I got a “monroe” piercing, named for Marilyn Monroe’s beauty mark. It’s a lot less common than a nose piercing (I see those all the time). I keep a small diamond stud in it, and quite honestly, most people don’t even notice it. If you have a small piercing, and the rest of you is professional, I wouldn’t worry about it. Nose piercings in particular are pretty standard, I’ve seen them on engineers, dean’s admins, and city hall employees of both genders. So, as long as you are neat and clean, and your jewelry is professional (not, say a giant neon orange spiky barbell), most people won’t bat an eye.

  37. jag*

    Look, I don’t find wild hair attractive, and when I see it I think of hipsters drinking PBR. Just a turn-off and I won’t hire them, or at least I think it shows poor judgement on their part which might show up in their work so I won’t hire them.

    Like this guy. All I see is his hair. If I was hiring aerospace engineers, as soon as he walked in the door I’d know he wouldn’t work out:

  38. Sophia*

    Hmm…I’m in academia and it never occurred to me that my small nose stud would be a problem (I’ve had it for about 10 years and worked in non academia previously). I go to a top 5 department in my field and got a asst prof job at a SLAC so even as I was reading this thread, I’m thinking that academia is a more liberal environment. however, I cannot immediately think of another person I know, faculty or phd candidate, in my department or any alums that has facial jewelry

  39. Alternative*

    I might be the first or only person to say this so far; but I might actually give a small amount of preference to a person with an unusual look. May it be piercings, tattoos, colored hair, etc. As long as they are neat, clean, and otherwise professional, I am drawn to people who may have a quirky or interesting way of doing or seeing things.

  40. The boring academic*

    I’m actually doing my Masters on this topic, so hopefully a quick review of all the research out there will be useful.
    *Generally*, if you have a piercing, tattoo, or any other kind of body modification, others will see you as less professional and competent, more likely to be hostile, and more of a risk taker. On the other hand, you will also be seen as more creative, and more open to new experiences. This is all in general terms, and there is variety between industries (eg, creative, IT and non-customer facing roles are generally more accepting) and within individual organisations. While piercings and tattoos are becoming more mainstream in general, the business world is taking a while to catch up.

    Personally, I have a microdermal facial piercing which cannot be removed – if I want it gone I have to get it cut out. I’m also studying organisational psychology, and a lot of my required internships are very corporate. I’ve found that as my piercing is fairly unobtrusive, I wait until the ‘any further questions’ portion of a face to face interview and bring it up then (I have a piercing, not able to take it out, do you have a policy against etc etc). I find if I tell interviewers I have a facial piercing before they see me, they expect something huge. If I give them the chance to see me and form their opinions around my skills and my fit with the organisation first, it is less obtrusive. I’ve never had a problem with it yet. I have also found that reactions to it can give me a hint as to organisational culture. I personally prefer a more informal culture, so a negative reaction to my piercing can be an indicator to ask more about the organisation’s culture.

  41. Sarah Something*

    yeah, I guess it really depends on the company and the job position. there are some companies who aren’t very particular with these things. but there are others who are pretty conservative about tattoos and piercings coz they want to show professionalism, even on their clothing and physical appearance.

  42. d*

    Some of the things we hear about industries being “conservative” and it being “risky” to have someone with piercings (or tatoos) in a customer-facing position remind me of the rationale that kept black people and women out of certain positions. Or keep Latinos in the back of the house in restaurants.

    Of course, ethically it’s not the same – people can choose to have piercing or tattoos. But the similarity of rationale is noteworthy.

  43. Ask a Manager* Post author

    Here’s an update from OP #2 (posted with permission):

    Wow, I didn’t realize my issue would create such a heated response! In any event, I reached out to the hiring manager, and this was her response:

    I don’t believe there is an official policy on tattoos or piercings. Our dress/attire policy is business casual — as long as your appearance falls within that guideline you will be fine.

    My advice to you would be to go conservative in the beginning until you get the feel for the company culture, and people get a chance to know you. Then wear whatever makes you feel comfortable.

    So I have to decide now if I should just wear my smallest, most unobtrusive ring as a ‘this is me, might as well get to know me as-is’ gesture, or if I should leave it out for the first week or so, for prudence. But either way, it doesn’t sound like it will be an issue in the long run. Thanks for your guidance!

    1. Katie the Fed*

      Thanks for the update. I regret taking my nose stud out when I started my job, so I’m glad they can work with you on this.

      As for the rest of this – wowsers, what a sh*tstorm of a thread. I missed it yesterday – kinda glad :/

  44. Kendal*

    One of the best pieces of advice that I heard from a colleague (in the library world) is to make sure that any facial piercings and possibly visible tattoos are visible at your interview. Part of finding a job is finding an organization that you fit into, and if part of you is having a nose stud or tattoos, do you really want to work at a place that is going to make you get rid of or cover up the ways that you express yourself? In terms of tattoos, I’m speaking of body art that might be visible in otherwise work-appropriate apparel.

    I understand that my nose piercing might cost me a job, but I would rather work in an environment where I am accepted as I am. For me, my tattoos and piercings are deeply personal, and not something I am willing to compromise on.

  45. Brandon*

    Somehow I found this old thread after I had a similar question at work. I agree with the above comment as a hiring manager. You should present yourself exactly how you are at your interview. If i got a bunch of questions and emails about your personal piercings prior to you getting a job I would surely not hire you. Even a heads up hey I have piercings I just wanted to ask if that is ok, or hey I’m letting you know kind of thing; I probably would stop the hiring process right there for you. This decision process would not be because of the piercing, because unless your job could potentially rip them out due to the nature of work I would care less. The decision to not continue with the hire would be based solely on the fact that you are bothering me over something not at all work related. This just screams drama. There is no manager on earth that likes drama. Personal lives should stay personal in a workplace, come in do your job and then go do what you want.
    I had a transgender person apply for work about a year ago. I didnt even know they were transgender, nor did I care but I got no less then 20 emails after the second interview regarding transgenders, and dealing with transgenders in the work place. They asked multiple times if it was going to be a problem and asked me to poll other employees about it before the hiring. The person would have easily had the job as they were very qualified for it, but the self imposed drama over something that doesn’t matter cost them. I guess moral of the story I’m trying to say is be yourself and be drama free. If someone has an issue with any aspect of it you will either never hear from them again, or they will let you know about that issue. Don’t make an issue out of something that is not there in the first place.

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