Do Piercings Affect Job Opportunities?

  • Written By Dan Hunter on December 21, 2019
    Last Updated: November 28, 2020

In some ways, piercings can affect getting a job because some professions are big on the image they present. Conventional piercings, such as a nose or ear stud, shouldn’t have a major impact on your prospects. However, unconventional piercings are typically frowned upon in white-collar professions.

Which Piercings May Stop You From Getting a Job?

We’re going to cluster piercings in two categories:

  • Facial and oral piercings
  • Body piercings

Facial and Oral Piercings

These consist of piercings to the:

  • Ear
  • Eyebrow
  • Nose
  • Lip
  • Cheek
  • Oral piercings

Ear piercings vary, with some being perceived more controversial than others. Generally speaking, multiple piercings on the earlobe are considered unconventional.

Lip, cheek, nose, eyebrow and oral piercings aren’t as accepted as their ear equivalents. These piercings, except for oral, are easily removed and shouldn’t bear much significance on you getting a job — remove them, and nobody will be any the wiser.

The most popular oral piercings are on the tongue and gum. These are situated in delicate areas, like the frenulum, and may require special assistance to take them off.

Body Piercings

Some of the most common body piercings are:

  • Navel
  • Chest
  • Neck
  • Nape
  • Corset

Body piercings may have zero effect on your chances of getting a job if the uniform isn’t specified — you can always dress to cover them up. 

Remember that all piercings are associated with health risks, so proceed with caution.

How Piercings Affect Getting a Job

A Pew Research Centre survey shows that 39 percent of employers believe that piercings, on employees, make the company look bad. Whether you believe that to be valid or not, some of the reasons why your employment chances are slim could be:

  • Negative first impressions
  • Perception of being unsociable
  • Not looking the part

Negative First Impression

In a recent study, 194 college students and 95 working adults were asked 

to review a resumé for a job applicant. 

One-half of the resumés had pictures of candidates with no piercings, while the other half had piercings photoshopped onto the same photos. They were then asked to describe the applicants. Applicants with piercings were judged harshly and were perceived to be unprofessional.

This shows that applicants may be judged negatively because of their appearance, independent of their capabilities.

Make You Seem Unsociable

For whatever reason, society has deemed that people with heavy piercings are unsociable. When you consider that piercings are a form of self-expression, if anything, you’d think that they’re more approachable. 

Even so, to prevent customers from being put off, some employers might not want someone with lots of visible piercings in a customer-facing role, such as a receptionist. They’ll be more inclined to hire someone if they’re tucked away in a support role, such as IT.

This does raise the question of equality for all staff, no matter their appearance, of course.

Not Looking the Part

In professions like teaching, piercings are really frowned upon. You might offend a child, or the parent may think that you’re a negative influence on their kid. We’re not talking about a small stud in the ear, here. Instead, multiple tattoos in different visible bodyparts might not “suit” the teaching environment.

The sad truth is that stigma and bias are the baggage that comes with some types of piercings. Yes, it’s unfair for most, but it’s up to you whether you choose to fight it or accept it.

Is There a Silver Lining?

The good news is that you could always take your piercings out when going for an interview, and then put them back on afterward. Just make sure you don’t leave them out for so long your skin beings to close up.

If you feel this is somewhat underhanded, at least be honest in your interview. It’s better to do this than get hired only to find out you’ve broken policy. With this in mind, research the policy before applying or get HR to send you a copy.

Alternatively, you could seek an alternative career path that embraces piercings and other forms of body art:

  • The Arts
  • Entrepreneurship

The Arts

The Arts are full of individuals seeking a way to express themselves, as well as being an inclusive line of work. Piercings are perceived as artistic, and those with them are thought to be outgoing and rebellious. With the differing art forms, this is an added advantage because it’s a field that has no boundaries when it comes to creativity and expressions.


While you may face criticism and conflict in running your own business — especially if you’re customer-reliant — entrepreneurship has some potential outlets. Some common examples include:

  • Set up a piercing and body jewelry shop
  • Farming
  • Convenience store
  • Liquor store
  • Freelancing
  • Blogging
  • Professional gamer/streamer

The world of self-employment and working from home is exploding, especially as we want more time and freedom for ourselves. This combines well with pierced individuals who find themselves rejected by traditional society.

In a Nutshell

Piercings are seen as an expression of someone’s personality, and so we feel you should express yourself however you see fit. However, with the consequences that come with piercings, you should be able to balance self-expression with the prevailing attitudes.

Don’t get piercings if HR advises you that they’re against company policy and the company uniform won cover them — unless, of course, you’re ready to move on to less-biased workplaces.

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