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In today’s job market, where many qualified job applicants vie for a single job, professional presence is more important than ever. The “dress for success” cliché might seem a little worn out, but making an excellent first impression is increasingly crucial to career success in the current business climate. Even if you work from home, which Career Builder reports as a more common phenomenon since the recession, it is important to dress to impress on a job interview or for an in-person business meeting.

And even if you already have a job, you may be hurting your chances at promotion or job security if your supervisors see your professionalism in the workplace as lacking.

Traditional wisdom tells us to dress conservatively on a job interview or in the office, avoiding clothes that are too skimpy or too casual or too outlandish. But how can you increase your professional presence if you have tattoos, piercings, or even an unusual hairstyle? Although it is certainly not illegal to have tattoos, many businesses do have strict policies about body art, and many employees have reported being treated differently on the job as a result of their appearance.

Many job-seeking websites advise that job seekers remove piercings, cover tattoos, and get a haircut before going on a job interview. This applies to many people, since the American Academy of Dermatology estimated a few years ago that as many as 25 percent of working-age Americans have tattoos. However, many job seekers, from entry-level to mid-career job seekers, don’t wish to alter their outward personalities for the sake of having a more professional appearance. Fortunately, you can have professionalism in the workplace but maintain your own personality and style of dress in your personal time. You can also think about ways to dress professionally while adding a little personal flair.

The real key, though, is knowledge. Whether you are a job seeker looking for a new job, an employee trying to keep a job, an employee trying to get a promotion, or a manager concerned about an employee’s appearance, there are a few simple ways to take to maximize professional presence:

First, familiarize yourself with company and industry dress codes. Is visible body art permitted in the business in question? Next, follow the established dress codes, and ensure that your employees do the same. If you are treated in a way that makes you feel uncomfortable, despite being within the confines of company policy, then it may be time to consider a new look.

Would you question hiring a job candidate who had visible tattoos? Why or why not?

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