20 years ago, it was unusual to see a student at U.C. Berkeley with a tattoo. Back then, there was only 1 tattoo parlor in the city of Berkeley. Today, there are 8 tattoo parlors in Berkeley. Lots of Cal students now have tattoos. Tattooing has become far more socially acceptable than it used to be. One quarter of all Americans between the ages of 18 and 50 have a tattoo. But wait! Before you get a Chinese dragon tattooed on your wrist or your name in Hebrew tattooed on the back of your neck, have you considered how a tattoo might affect your ability to get a job or a promotion?
A recent national survey of parents of teenagers and college students found that 68% of parents didn’t want their kids to get tattoos. The Number 1 reason parents gave was their concern that having a tattoo might hurt their kid’s chances of getting a job. Those parents have good reason to worry about that. Careerbuilder.com, a job search web site, asked HR (human resource) managers what they considered the #1 physical attribute that would most likely limit a candidate’s chances of getting a job or getting promoted. 37% said body piercings and 31% said tattoos. A similar survey conducted by philly.com put tattoos at #1. According to The Patient’s Guide, when people having tattoos removed by laser surgery were asked why they were having their tattoos removed, 50% of respondents cited ’employment’ as the principle reason. A lot of employers have dress codes and refuse to hire people with visible tattoos or piercings. Yes, that is legal. People with tattoos are not a protected class under labor or discrimination laws. If you are going to get a tattoo, my advice is to have it put someplace where it can’t be seen when you are wearing work clothes. Your friends may tell you that employers no longer care about tattoos, but that isn’t true. Some employers don’t care about tattoos, but some do.
When making appointments, use specific dates.
‘Today’ and ‘tomorrow’ can be dangerous words in e-mails. A lot of people have missed job interviews because they used the words ‘today’ or ‘tomorrow’ ambiguously. Don’t say: “I’ll see you tomorrow at 3 o’clock.” Say: “I’ll see you tomorrow, Tuesday, June 3 at 3 o’clock.” Keep in mind that ISPs (Internet Service Providers) go down all the time. When they do, e-mails get delayed, sometimes for hours. If you send someone an e-mail at 3:00PM that says ‘I’ll see you tomorrow’, the recipient may not get your message until he comes to work the following day, in which case, you may show up a day early or a day late for your appointment. Don’t leave prospective employers (or anyone else) wondering what date you are talking about. It makes you look unprofessional. It also makes you look like someone who doesn’t pay attention to details, and worst of all, you could miss your appointment. Remember the old saying – You only get one chance to make a good first impression.
There is another problem with the words ‘today’ and ‘tomorrow.’ There are different ways of thinking about the meaning these words. For some people, ‘today’ means ‘this day’, or in other words, from sunrise to sunset. For other people, ‘today’ means sunrise to sunrise, and for other people it means midnight to midnight. A lot of people use the words ‘day’ and ‘date’ as though they thought that these words meant the same thing, but they don’t. In your mind, your day may have started when you got out of bed this morning, but you know that the date changed at midnight. ‘Today’ and ‘tomorrow’ can be ambiguous. Dates are specific. Use specific dates in all your business correspondence.
I often have this problem in my business. When I have a house for rent listed on Craigslist, I frequently get e-mails from people with questions like: “Can I see your house sometime tomorrow?” I don’t answer questions like that with ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ because I don’t know what this person has in mind by ‘sometime tomorrow’. I write back and ask: “Specifically when would you like to see the house?” You might be surprised at how frequently people are offended and get angry with me when I ask them to tell me exactly when they want to come on over and see my house. It’s strange, but this happens quite often.
Many years ago, a graduating U.C. Berkeley senior I knew applied for a sales job with Cobra, a company that makes high-priced golf clubs. They also make Titleist golf balls and several other brands of golf-related products. He really wanted this job. He loved to play golf. The job paid well, and if he got the job, he would get to travel to some of the best golf courses in the United States at the company’s expense. He did everything he could think of to prepare for his interview – except research the company. Since he was applying for a job with a sporting goods company, he thought his best strategy would be to stress his own healthy lifestyle and love of sports. He told the company interviewer that he exercised daily, never ate junk food, never used drugs, tobacco, or alcohol, and that he avoided the company of people who did. He did not get the job. If he had researched the company before his interview, he would have known that Cobra and Titleist were owned by American Brands, and American Brands was the nation’s the 2nd largest distiller of hard liquor (Jim Beam, Knob Creek, etc) and the 3nd largest cigarette manufacturer (Lucky Strike, Pall Mall, etc.) If he had researched the company, I am sure that he wouldn’t have badmouthed cigarettes and booze during his job interview. This guy wasn’t stupid, just unprepared.
Louis Pasteur said: ‘Chance favors the prepared mind.’ In other words, people who are well prepared are more likely to be lucky in their endeavors than people who are unprepared. Even in the best of times, the best jobs go to the best prepared applicants, and these are not the best of times.
Before going to a job interview, find out something about the company. The internet has made that easy. Check out the company’s web site. Also check out the company on Wikipedia. Wikipedia is often inaccurate, but it is a good starting point for a company search. Knowing something about a company gives you a big edge over other applicants who know nothing about the company.
Here are my previous job hunting tips.
Mark’s Job Hunting Tip #1: ‘Today’ And ‘Tomorrow’ Are Dangerous Words In E-Mails. June, 2011
Mark’s Job Hunting Tip #2: Clean Up Your Facebook Page. July, 2011.
Mark’s Job Hunting Tip #3: Don’t Get A Conspicuous Tattoo. July, 2012.
Mark’s Job Hunting Tip #4: A Resume Is Not An Autobiography. November, 2012.
Mark’s Job Hunting Tip #5: Have A Professional Sounding Voice Mail Message. February, 2013
20 years ago, it was very unusual to see a tattooed student at U.C. Berkeley, and there was only 1 tattoo parlor in the whole city. Today, a lot of Cal students have tattoos, and there are now 6 tattoo parlors in Berkeley. Tattooing has become far more socially acceptable than it used to be. One quarter of all Americans between the ages of 18 and 50 have a tattoo. But wait! Before you get a Chinese dragon tattooed on your wrist, have you considered how a tattoo might affect your ability to get a job or a promotion?
Careerbuilder.com, a job search web site, asked HR (human resource) managers what they considered the #1 physical attribute that would most likely limit a candidate’s chances of getting a job or getting promoted. 37% said body piercings and 31% said tattoos. A similar survey conducted by philly.com put tattoos at #1. According to The Patient’s Guide, laser tattoo removals increased 32% between 2010 and 2011. When asked why they were having their tattoos removed, 40% of respondents cited ’employment’ as the principle reason. Many employers have stricter dress codes these days and are refusing to hire people with tattoos. That is legal. People with tattoos are not a protected class under labor or discrimination laws. I once refused to hire someone myself because of a tattoo. I was managing a restaurant here in Berkeley called ‘The Station’ when a young man with a skull and crossbones tattooed on his cheek applied for a job. I thought: “Who is going to hire someone to serve food to the public who has the symbol for poison tattooed on his face?” If you are going to get a tattoo, my advice is to have it put someplace where it can’t be seen when you are wearing work clothes.