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Published Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Piercings in the Workplace: A Guide to Maybe Not Getting Fired

So I got my nose pierced once. I was IT Director for a reasonably conservative company, or, more accurately I guess, a company located in the somewhat conservative state of Arkansas. So I got some clear acrylic hider-things (Buy some here to mislead current or prospective employers) that made me look like I had a permanent nose blemish that I was refusing to deal with. After a while I starting wearing a nose ring, but I was able to demonstrate to my employer that if I needed to deal with the public, I could don my fake nose-pimple and be good to go.

No one suspects a thing.

This method, called “The Voila!” is not the recommended way to approach your employer with piercings.

The appropriate method... to speak to your HR department and discuss corporate policies with them. But if you do that, you can’t go into the break room and shout, “I’ve had this piercing for weeks! You’re all fools!”

Alternatively, you could seek employment with companies that you know are friendly to people with piercings, like Borders or Whole Foods. I got my list from sources that existed back when Borders was in business, so if you apply for a job there, your application will actually be re-routed to Barnes and Noble, and in a year or so will probably be re-routed to Amazon. I miss Borders, they were pretty hip. But seriously, Barnes and Noble and Amazon are still cool with piercings. As are some unexpectedly old school companies like IBM and Ford Motors.

If you’ve read advice for job seeking pierced professionals on the internet, you’ll find such gems as “Maybe cover your tattoos during interviews” and “You could maybe take out some of your piercings”. If you’re walking around with metal or wood or acrylic in your face for more than a day, I’m betting you’ve put that much together already. But I’m going to go in another direction with a little anecdote.

I know a young lady with a conservative grandfather.

One day she comes for a visit wearing a gold clicker in her septum and gold rings in her lip and her gold plugs with the nice gemstones in the center, and he says, “Is that gold?” and she’s like, “Yup.” And he says, “I should take you out and show you off.”

The lesson: Greed is good. No, wait, that’s not the point. The real lesson is you dress up for an interview just like you dress up for anything else. You can impress people by looking your best, piercings included. The economy is tough, jobs are hard to come by, but if you’re pierced and good at what you do, maybe don’t be afraid to flaunt it. Where would you get something that nice? I’m glad you asked.

And if you’re applying someplace like Walmart(Policy: No visible anything) then their piercing policy probably won’t be your biggest issue, right? So check the policy, think about flaunting your beautiful true self, and good luck out there with the job hunting and job keeping.


I was going to talk smack about Starbucks, but apparently they, just this year, gave the go ahead for tattoos and nose studs in the workplace. So, you know, progress! Become a barista and wear your nose studs with impunity!


But seriously, good luck out there with the job seeking. It’s a tough market, but you shouldn’t be afraid to be yourself.