Piercings and Professionalism: How to Manage Body Jewelry in the Workplace


Piercings and Professionalism: How to Manage Body Jewelry in the Workplace

As body piercings continue to sneak their way into mainstream popularity, a new debate rumbles inside the workplace: does body jewelry go against professional standards?

In a world of transition, where younger generations who value individual style are beginning to drive and change workplace practices, the facial piercing debate is no longer an easy one. We see more and more leniency when it comes to visible piercings in the workplace. Here are some things you need to know when trying to choose between your piercing and your dream job.

Will my piercing affect my ability to land a job?

The short, and somewhat unsatisfactory, answer is that it might. A 2014 study showed that employers perceived those with piercings as less trustworthy and of lower moral character and competence than their unpierced counterparts, regardless of their resume. Right or wrong, there are still stigmas surrounding facial piercings despite their growing mainstream popularity.

Employers cite many reasons for maintaining visible body jewelry as a workplace no-no. Besides the vague “it’s not professional” reasoning, they claim that visible body jewelry can affect a client’s or customer’s perception of the employee, that it’s unattractive, or that it goes against the company’s image. Regardless of the reasons, it’s clear that visible body jewelry, especially on the face, can still have a negative effect on your employability.

However, visible piercings are no longer frowned upon by all employers. Just because you have visible piercings does not mean that you can’t get a job. Research your industry and learn about company standards to see if you can find a company that is more lenient toward alternative styles if it is important to you.

Are there piercings that are more accepted than others?

HR representatives report that more and more businesses allow small nose rings and cartilage piercings. Stretched lobes in smaller gauges are also commonly accepted because you can easily find plugs that look as professional as a standard lobe piercing.

Of course, belly rings, nipple piercings, or any other piercing that isn’t on the face are easy to hide beneath your clothing. Chances are your employer won’t even know that you have them. If you want to get a piercing but find the professionalism debate concerning, then non-facial piercings are probably for you.

Can I hide my piercing?

Even if your piercing is years old, it can close up in a matter of hours, depending on where it is. If you want to keep your piercing and your job, you’ll have to find new ways to hide it without removing the jewelry. Clear retainers are available for a variety of piercing types to keep the piercing site open without drawing attention. Retainers are available in many different styles, including clear and skin-tone, but they are still noticeable. You’ll need to check with your boss to make sure that this is a viable option.

While workplace practices and attire are becoming much more casual, when it comes to piercings, you need to seriously consider whether your personal style will affect your perceived professionalism. Know and respect the dress code, talk to your employer about your options, and be prepared to opt for alternative piercing choices.

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