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Is It Possible to Have an Alternative Look and a Career at the Same Time?

By Nicole Noel

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Long gone are the times when piercings, tattoos, stretchers, and unusual haircuts were a matter of a trend. Having an alternative look might be just a phase for some people, but it’s actually more of a lifestyle and it’s starting to blur the lines of what we usually perceive as a “normal” look. Because of this, alternative looks and lifestyles started affecting the job market and every now and then, you can see the same question popping up – can an alternative look and a successful career work together?

tattoo alternative lookCan you find a job?

Back in the days, tattoos and other visible marks were okay for only a handful of jobs but, luckily, it’s not like that anymore. Yes, there are certain positions which explicitly don’t allow any visible body art, but the list of these jobs is shrinking in the last few years. For example, policemen in New South Wales in Australia can’t have piercings or tattoos on their face, scalp, neck, or hands but the rest of the body is okay. Flight attendants, on the other hand, sometimes can’t have any tattoos whatsoever. However, there are many career options where tattoos are fine, hidden or visible, so it is possible to find a job if you have a somewhat alternative look.

Can you get fired?

The sad news is that even if you managed to land a job despite your look, you can still get fired sometimes in the future. The tattoo discrimination is still present among people and the policy against it varies from employer to employer. So, if you have a tattoo that’s not visible or you are planning to get one in the future, make sure you ask about your company’s attitude towards it. It’s not illegal for an employer to fire you because of this since they can always rely on their strict policy. On the other hand, if there’s no policy against it but you still get fired – make sure you get some legal advice and see if something can be done.

What’s the big deal?

As you can see, for most companies, it’s okay to have some kind of body art and modifications as long as you keep it hidden with clothes. When I did my tattoos in Sydney in the Tattoo Movement studio I didn’t think how it might affect my future jobs. Luckily, my tattoos are all small and hidden, regardless of what I wear. I guess that the trouble with tattoos and piercings is that people find them intimidating for some reason and have this prejudice that an inked or pierced person can’t be a professional. It’s understandable for vulgar or offensive tattoos, but in today’s society – you never know what someone might find offensive.

What to do if you want both?

Wanting to express yourself through body art and to have a successful career at the same time is completely normal. So, the question is what to do if you want both? That will solely depend on the type of career you want. In the corporate world, tattoo taboo is still strong while the creative sector is becoming more and more open to it. It’s the same as following the dress code – if your employer considers tattoos and piercings inappropriate for a work environment, then you have two options: accept it or find another job.

According to statistics, one in five Aussies are inked and that number is getting bigger by the year, so the employers will have to change their policies, too. I think that things for ink lovers are getting easier – we just have to be patient and wait for our time to come. Until then, you just do your best and act professional – no employer can afford to reject an excellent worker just because you have some kind of mark on your skin.

About The Nicole Noel

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