Okay, so I'm aspiring to be a software programmer (I am only 17 and are yet to go through College/University), but I was just wondering, what do people that hire Programmers think of body modifications? Personally I love them, but I don't want them to affect my possible future career. By body modifications I mean facial piercings, stretched piercings and tattoos. When I leave university I will have 2x 30mm (1" 1/8) ear lobes, 4mm inner conchs (cartilage in the back of your ear), 10mm septum (fleshy bottom of the nose), snake bites, 2x anti-eyebrows, and 2 sleeves, chest tattoo and a swallow tattoo on my neck.

a for instance:
if you would like to work as a consultant, a lot of companies will say: fat chance.
(I know the company I worked for would have) You being sent to their customer, you'll represent your company. you don't have any working experience yet, so it'll be hard to sell you solely based on your experience.

there are on the other hand companies that don't mind all that, for who the result is more important than how you look.

in the end, it's your choice, but yes, it might have a negative impact on your career possibilities.

replace "might" with "will"... Most larger companies won't hire you, especially as a junior, if you have piercings, tattoos, etc. in places that will be visible to customers (they couldn't care less if you've the name of your SM mistress tattoo'd on your butt or have a pierced penis).

Comments
I agree..

I have full sleeves on both arms, a full chest piece, a full back piece that rises up above the shirt/collar line onto the neck. I also have facial piercings - just a few in my ears now, but when I was first carving out a career (as an IT consultant and freelance journalist) I had twenty piercings in one ear, ten in the other, three eyebrow piercings and two nose ones (not to mention the bits you couldn't see). This was at the very start of the 90's and I worked as a consultant for some very large companies such as Microsoft, Royal Mail etc. My appearance did not matter, my ability to solve the problems these companies were looking to deal with did.

Attitudes have changed dramatically since then, and with tattoos etc much more mainstream these days, I think that the kind of employer who thinks it is a problem is the kind of <insert expletive here> you probably don't want to work for anyway...

I should point out that I'm based in the UK so my experiences reflect that.

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yup, nice! However there are still "culture differences" :)

I've known companies that wouldn't hire you if your goatee or beard was too long.
mostly this are indeed companies that don't have the possibilities as Microsoft, ..; and that are afraid they can't 'sell' their services/consultants to their clients, but there are a lot more of these companies than there are Microsoft's around.

I agree with happygeek in this case. Yes, its true most of the companies will consider your looks while recruiting you. But personally, I believe that looks really don't matter. May be people will have misconceptions about you at the beginning, but if you have true talent, it will be proved.
Not to forget Sir Albert Einstein's hair, Dennis Ritchie's long beard, or Steve Jobs' simple blue jeans black T. They never cared about all these things , because they were busy "working", and eventually people started caring about their work too rather than their looks.
These are all personal opinions, I just wanted to share mine. :) :)

If you've got ears as saggy as a 90 year old bits and you go for the same job as someone who is clean cut, equally as qualified and experienced you're more than likely not going to get the job. If that wasn't the case i would have rocked up to my interview in shorts and flipflops instead of getting suited and booted and having a shave (i usually have stubble) After all if you work for a company you represent that company and i'm sure companies would prefer a smart squeaky clean image that's why CEO's are generally clean cut, well dressed and don't usually have visible tattoo's.

On the other hand try your best to look dapper for interviews and follow company dress codes (i.e. shirt and tie if it's required). If they ask you to take all your piercings out and you really don't want to keep searching you'll eventually find somewhere

How ever i love and can't wait to get a few tattoo's i just need to grow a pair first.

Edited 4 Years Ago by ChrisHunter: n/a

Not to forget Sir Albert Einstein's hair, Dennis Ritchie's long beard, or Steve Jobs' simple blue jeans black T.

Einstein worked a bit on his own, and in his day, most people thought of him as bit of a goof. Jobs' clothing is a very different matter than having piercings and such (not too mention it kind of helps when you're the boss instead of an employee ;) ) and as for Ritchie's beard: did he already have that beard when he started working? it's also good to know that when Ritchie was first hired, the entire HR business was a lot different: you have a degree, you are good at developing? hired!

it didn't really matter how they looked, since it were mostly the ones referred to as "geek" or "nerd" who had the skills to get the job done. nowadays, however, you'll find yourself in another situation: the IT dept. is no longer a place hidden from the world, where a few lonely IT-guys take care of a mainframe the size of a small house.

personally, I don't think it matters either, but I'm well aware a lot of recruiters dó think it matters. In my personal experiences, yes, there are firms where you can arrive in shorts on a hot summers day, but there are also companies that say: you're not wearing a costume and tie to your interview/workday? good-bye.

so yeah, there are companies that don't mind, especially if you have the skills they need, but without actual experience, that might still be hard to prove :)

stein worked a bit on his own, and in his day, most people thought of him as bit of a goof. Jobs' clothing is a very different matter than having piercings and such (not too mention it kind of helps when you're the boss instead of an employee ) and as for Ritchie's beard: did he already have that beard when he started working? it's also good to know that when Ritchie was first hired, the entire HR business was a lot different: you have a degree, you are good at developing? hired!

it didn't really matter how they looked, since it were mostly the ones referred to as "geek" or "nerd" who had the skills to get the job done. nowadays, however, you'll find yourself in another situation: the IT dept. is no longer a place hidden from the world, where a few lonely IT-guys take care of a mainframe the size of a small house.

personally, I don't think it matters either, but I'm well aware a lot of recruiters dó think it matters. In my personal experiences, yes, there are firms where you can arrive in shorts on a hot summers day, but there are also companies that say: you're not wearing a costume and tie to your interview/workday? good-bye.

so yeah, there are companies that don't mind, especially if you have the skills they need, but without actual experience, that might still be hard to prove

May be what you are saying is right. IT IS difficult to prove your skills in today's world. Then may be to start from somewhere , we will have to follow company norms. Or you need to be another Einstein or Jobs, which is usually very rare. :) :)

So I guess for the time being, lets be neat and clean and polished and (so called) sophisticated :P individuals. :)

May be what you are saying is right. IT IS difficult to prove your skills in today's world. Then may be to start from somewhere , we will have to follow company norms. Or you need to be another Einstein or Jobs, which is usually very rare. :) :)

So I guess for the time being, lets be neat and clean and polished and (so called) sophisticated :P individuals. :)

either that, or be happy enough to find one of those companies that still aren't bothered with how the hell you look like :)

By body modifications I mean facial piercings, stretched piercings and tattoos. When I leave university I will have 2x 30mm (1" 1/8) ear lobes, 4mm inner conchs (cartilage in the back of your ear), 10mm septum (fleshy bottom of the nose), snake bites, 2x anti-eyebrows, and 2 sleeves, chest tattoo and a swallow tattoo on my neck.

At the point where you realize that you are scaring little kids away, you may have already lost 'the game'. ;)

I agree with happygeek in this case. Yes, its true most of the companies will consider your looks while recruiting you. But personally, I believe that looks really don't matter.

I agree that looks SHOULD not matter, but I know all too well that they do.
Send 2 people with exactly the same credentials to a job interview, and the one who had a haircut done yesterday and shined his shoes this morning will have a better chance than the other guy who's wearing his hair half an inch too long and comes in an old pair of sports sneakers, even if they're wearing the same suit and tie and it fits perfectly.

Add some piercings, tattoos, or one guy being even a tad overweight and the equation flips completely towards the "better looking candidate".
Only exception in those cases would be if the persons performing the interview also had piercings, tattoos, or were overweight, as they'd know it doesn't matter (but even then, and (unwritten, because of equal opportunities laws) corporate standards change so they might be required to reject you even if they themselves wouldn't mind).

Not to forget Sir Albert Einstein's hair, Dennis Ritchie's long beard, or Steve Jobs' simple blue jeans black T. They never cared about all these things , because they were busy "working", and eventually people started caring about their work too rather than their looks.

Einstein's portrait with that hair was done very late in life, well after he retired from having to go to job interviews or get "performance reviews" done.
Same with Ritchie's beard.
Jobs of course no doubt would wear a suit when on serious business, like when visiting venture capitalists or politicians whose favours he needed.

Looks matter, A LOT, unless and until the people you're dealing with already know and respect your credentials.
Which means that unless you're very near to retirement you'd best try to be able to look your best in a suit and tie if you're in this business if you want to have a broad base of potential employers open to you. And that means no pierced nose, lips, tongue, eyebrows, etc., no large or offensive tattoos you can't cover up.

Comments
well formulated.

I seem to have bucked that trend in that I was just starting my career yet was heavily facially pierced, heavily tattooed and dressed in a punk/biker/goth mix style yet managed to get plenty of large corporate clients including Microsoft, National Westminster Bank, Royal Mail etc etc.

Perhaps it helped,20 years ago, that there weren't that many Internet consultants to choose from in the UK. But not once did I miss out on a job because of my appearance, and I can say that with some confidence as every potential client I approached (or who approached me) ended up being an actual client.

I do understand what you are saying, and agree to a large degree. However, it is possible to be both an individual and have a successful career - it is almost certainly a lot harder but not impossible.

Personally, I would rather stay true to myself that bend over for 'the man' and comply with their idea of what I should look like... Even if that meant my choice of employees/clients were to be rather smaller than the average.

Try to find a compromise. Be comfortable while not being so outrageous that you get reprimanded, fired, or passed over for jobs.
If the company tries to push you in directions you don't want to go, seek other jobs.
E.g. one company I worked for tried to force a strict dress code on all male employees (after several years of no policy except "look presentable to customers" (we only had customer contact through phone and email, so this was irrelevant to us). Dark suit, white shirt, tie, black leather shoes and knee length socks would be mandated (they even tried to mandate the style and colour of our underwear...).
This in a company where at that moment the standard clothing style had been jeans and T-shirts, sandals or sneakers (the thing was presented to us by the CEO, dressed in jeans, sports sneakers, and a sweater).

Several people left, the rest of us got together and successfully fought the thing under anti-discrimination laws (they launched it for men only, women were not restricted at all in their choice of clothing).
Most of those who did fight were forced out later, including me (though I was already looking for other work and didn't end up unemployed) of course.

In my experience most companies just want somebody who can do the job. Personal appearance isn't always that big a factor. However, at the same time attitudes towards personal appearance can vary wildly from company to company, it can also vary depending on the nature of the position you are applying for (i.e. whether or not you will be meeting clients).

As a long-standing extreme-metal drummer, my appearance is generally somewhat alternative/hobo-like. Heh heh.
Combat trousers/jeans, T-shirts featuring bands nobody has heard of, boots, long goatee beard, long hair and some facial piercings (no hair or piercings atm though. I look more like a deranged, big-bearded Uncle Fester nowadays!)

Despite my alternative preferences, whenever I go to job interviews I make a point of wearing an all black shirt/tie/trousers/boots combo. But I still look more than a little unconventional. Over the years I've had two interviews where I've been told that my appearance was a factor in not getting the position. But in most cases where I've failed at interview it was usually because there were better qualified and/or more experienced candidates.

On the flip side of that, every programming job I've succesfully interviewed for and accepted has been attributed to my ability to write code, my natural enthusiasm for what I do and to my generally amiable, yet self-deprecating personality. In these cases, my physical appearance has never come into the equation.

My last job had a fairly strict dress code (shirt, trousers, shoes, tie optional for non-client facing employees). Piercings, facial hair and visible tattoos were only a problem if you were client facing, which I wasn't.

So as long as I stuck with the black shirt, trousers and boots, I fitted in with their dress code yet still stayed more or less true to myself. I didn't bother with the tie option. The idea of getting up each morning and putting my head in a noose just didn't appeal to me, much as my appearance might suggest otherwise. Heh heh!

By contrast, in my current job I can wear whatever I like. So back to combats/jeans and t-shirts featuring bands nobody has heard of!

Comments
:) :)

In my experience most companies just want somebody who can do the job. Personal appearance isn't always that big a factor. However, at the same time attitudes towards personal appearance can vary wildly from company to company, it can also vary depending on the nature of the position you are applying for (i.e. whether or not you will be meeting clients).

...

My last job had a fairly strict dress code (shirt, trousers, shoes, tie optional for non-client facing employees). Piercings, facial hair and visible tattoos were only a problem if you were client facing, which I wasn't.

you have to take in account that a lot of IT jobs are outsourcing/consultancy, in which facing the client is ... well, unavoidable :)

Despite my alternative preferences, whenever I go to job interviews I make a point of wearing an all black shirt/tie/trousers/boots combo. But I still look more than a little unconventional. Over the years I've had two interviews where I've been told that my appearance was a factor in not getting the position. But in most cases where I've failed at interview it was usually because there were better qualified and/or more experienced candidates.

very well possible, but it is also possible, that your appearance had a bigger role than they told you, and they were just trying to avoid a lawsuit for discrimination.

On the flip side of that, every programming job I've succesfully interviewed for and accepted has been attributed to my ability to write code, my natural enthusiasm for what I do and to my generally amiable, yet self-deprecating personality. In these cases, my physical appearance has never come into the equation.

well ... I doubt they would have hired you based on your clothing, but not taking your programming skills into account :)

By contrast, in my current job I can wear whatever I like. So back to combats/jeans and t-shirts featuring bands nobody has heard of!

Rock on!! ;)

Culture and tradition....two terrible setbacks in my part of the world. I bet you, you cant step into any government building with such looks. First, you may a suspected hoodlum or an irresponsible creature and you would never be taken seriously no matter how much idea you have or the best of solutions you offer in your proposals. same in private sector companies. Besides, if you owned a company yourself, would you like to see your representative appear on National/International TV with all of that? I guess it would send the wrong signal about your firm to the public

I own my own company, and I have regularly appeared on national television looking like that and representing my company. I t has never done me, or my company, any harm.

The kind of public that judge a book by the cover are not the kind of public I want to do business with, frankly.

I am lucky that, after 20 years in the business, I can pick and choose my clients and do just that. I only work with people I like. Read my previous posts and you will see, however, that my often very challenging looks have never held me back career wise. In fact, they have got me more work than I have ever lost - including a stint presenting a couple of TV series here in the UK.

including a stint presenting a couple of TV series here in the UK.

Which TV shows have you presented ?

Sorry if that comes across wrong it is a genuine question, i live in the north west near Liverpool (I'm not a scouser) so i might have seen you on the TV before without realising.

Comments
:)

dont get many UK tv in Aus or Can, but, the byline in old
.Net PC_Direct PC_Pro Computer_Life
magazines
The Times on Sunday (2 weeks late)
3 books on my shelves
awards out the wazoo

guru << happygeek

Edited 4 Years Ago by almostbob: n/a

Comments
Thanks :)

I used to be known as Wavey Davey back then (punky looking bloke in wheelchair at first, then with a stick) and presented some stuff for The Late Show (BBC) which I also wrote about the music scene. I also wrote for and presented on The Net (BBC) which was the first prog in the UK which really looked at the Internet from a cultural as well as technical perspective - did OK, got a couple of million viewers per show. Then there were bits and bobs over the years on TV and radio, including being one of the in-studio presenters for the Radio One Internet Night which was the first interactive/collaborative live radio and Internet broadcast (we had Blur playing live at the Cyberia cybercafe in London, and me and the guy who used to produce Yazz taking questions in the studio about the Internet, from a music perspective, with Jo Wiley). This was all back in the very early 90's though, at the start of the Internet revolution on this side of the pond.

Funnily enough, I'm on the verge of starting doing TV again with a prime-time show for Channel 4 called Scambusters which will be a cross between The Real Hustle and Watchdog, combining consumer journalism with hands-on stuff in order to warn people about the types of scams they can face today. I will be one of three presenters, taking on the role of the security/hacking expert and demonstrating how the hacks/scams actually work. If the show gets commissioned that is, so far it's looking very good with C4 loving everything we've done to this point and so could just be down to budgets now.

Which TV shows have you presented ?

Sorry if that comes across wrong it is a genuine question, i live in the north west near Liverpool (I'm not a scouser) so i might have seen you on the TV before without realising.

Edited 4 Years Ago by happygeek: n/a

dont get many UK tv in Aus or Can, but, the byline in old
.Net PC_Direct PC_Pro Computer_Life
magazines
The Times on Sunday (2 weeks late)
3 books on my shelves
awards out the wazoo

guru << happygeek

Awww shucks :)

Currently have settled into being Contributing Editor for PC Pro (for past 16 years or so) along with my DaniWeb roles and Contributing Editorships at IT Pro and Cloud Pro as well. Plenty of other stuff in-between, but such is the CV of a jobbing freelance journalist and author I guess.

I used to be known as Wavey Davey

Wow i just did a Google search on Wavey Davey (i do remember the name) and didn't quite get what i was expecting . . . the I.T. department won't be happy with that. There was one picture of a guy with keyboard.

You'll have to let me know if it gets the go-ahead so i can watch it.

Okay, so I'm aspiring to be a software programmer (I am only 17 and are yet to go through College/University), but I was just wondering, what do people that hire Programmers think of body modifications? Personally I love them, but I don't want them to affect my possible future career. By body modifications I mean facial piercings, stretched piercings and tattoos. When I leave university I will have 2x 30mm (1" 1/8) ear lobes, 4mm inner conchs (cartilage in the back of your ear), 10mm septum (fleshy bottom of the nose), snake bites, 2x anti-eyebrows, and 2 sleeves, chest tattoo and a swallow tattoo on my neck.

It will make life more difficult. If you're one of the top .1% programmers, that difficulty may be so miniscule that you never notice, but in general, you'll have to work harder to demonstrate your skill so that people will overlook your apperance. It's all a matter of what's most important to you.

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