Day-care worker Jodi Adamczewski remembers her boss being surprised by her tattoos.
Not too many years ago, tattoos were usually found mostly on sailors and punk rockers. But today, nearly 20 percent of Americans have a tattoo.
That raises the question of what's appropriate in the workplace.
The short answer is while bosses might not be crazy about them, or body piercings for that matter, they'll tolerate them if workers look professional and are good at what they do.
"People are about as flexible as they need to be to get people to fill their jobs," said Jack Hollister, president of the Employers' Association in Sylvania.
The issue of tattoos varies by employer, he said, but a number of them address the topic in employee manuals, much the way they spell out rules about dress, hair, jewelry, and piercings.
"I think people get concerned if they are grossly visible, so they'll ask that they be covered up, especially if they're worried it's going to interfere with good quality customer service," he said.
Gus Mancy, of Mancy's Steaks, said the west Toledo restaurant has a policy about earring and body piercings, but the staff uniform of long pants and long sleeves makes one for tattoos not as essential.
"I think people appreciate a server with a professional appearance, with a clean appearance," he said.
Servers are not allowed facial rings, must have their hair pulled back if it is longer than shoulder length, cannot wear earrings bigger than a dime, and must put in clear studs in their noses, he said.
"I do have to admit, if someone had a tattoo on half his face, it would be hard to hire him as a server," Mr. Mancy said.
Spokesman Tim Dirrim said there is no written policy on tattoos at Sky Bank and its affiliates and its subsidiaries, but management probably would take exception to someone working with the public with a great deal of body art.
"If there was a tattoo that was personally offensive or fairly obvious that clients could take offense with it, that's an issue we'd have to deal with," he said.
Discussing how to best present themselves and their skills to potential employers is a big part of the counseling at the Source of Northwest Ohio, said Craig Gebers, One-Stop operator.
"You're there to market yourself and anything can be red flags to employers, depending on their own perceptions," he said.
Day-care worker Jodi Adamczewski has five tattoos, but can cover them with her clothes or hair while at work.
"I remember my boss being surprised .●.●. when she saw my tattoos," she said. "I told her I had them before I worked here."
Some surveys say that more than a third of people age 25 to 29 have at least one tattoo, leading some workers to argue tattoos are a form of self-expression unrelated to how they do their job. But Mr. Gebers said job seekers need to be pragmatic.
"We tell them, 'the overall appearance you want to present is of hard-working, dependable, responsible individuals. It's all about how you present yourself.'●"
Contact Mary-Beth McLaughlin at