I'm an undergraduate student in electronics/software engineering and I recently got a (visible) tattoo on my forearm (about 8cm/3in) long. Now I understand this could be a problem, say, working in the retail sector where a company wants to present a professional image - but is it really a problem when interviewing for programming jobs?
What I mean to say is, in most companies I have interned at, they seem to have fairly relaxed rules within the engineering teams, but the first steps of interviewing are often with HR. So what I wanted to know is whether I should be covering up the tattoo, or disclosing it without being asked about it in interviews? What stance do software/electronics industry company policies in general take on this?
(If it matters at all, I'm looking for answers in the context of UK-based companies.)
( 5 months ago )
There are three kinds of workplaces:
Those where tattoos are considered normal. They won't hold it against you if you don't have one, so mentioning it one way or another in the interview would just mark you as possibly a little tentative, a little less confident than you could be.
Those where they don't care if you HAVE tattoos or not, because they don't really care about you as a person. For example, wait staff and retail staff, places with written dress code policies that every employee must follow. In these places, you can HAVE tattoos, you just can't SHOW tattoos. Especially in the UK I was often served by someone with masking tape swathed around a lower arm or leg. If it matters to you that you might have to wear more clothing (or masking tape) than is comfortable, and you think it's this workplace, then ask. But such places rarely hire electronics and software engineers
Those where they will think less of you if they see it when they don't know you, but they'll actually change their opinions of tattoos if they see it once they know how smart, hardworking, polite, etc you are. Here you have a big advantage by not mentioning it, and wearing long sleeves, and then waiting a little while to reveal it. No big deal, just one day you wear short sleeves and someone says "oh! I never knew you had a tattoo."
I think you're most likely to end up in the first (some hip young startupy kind of place) or the third (a somewhat more staid place with older staff and more of a history). In either of them, asking about the tattoo policy in the interview, and saying you have one, could count against you (though for opposite reasons.) In the second, it will make no difference. I see essentially no argument for asking in advance, other than "I refuse to work with people who have a prejudice against tattoos" - and I don't recommend you take that position.