Recently I was on a panel for an ad school "Meet the Industry" night. Me, another agency recruiter, a copywriter, an account person and a small agency owner. Everyone talked about how they got into advertising, talked a bit about their current job and gave a few words of advice for the students. Pretty typical for this type of event.
I am just as interested in getting a nugget or two of wisdom for myself, so when the agency owner began to speak I was eager to hear his advice.
And here it went: Don't show me your tattoos in an interview. Do not wear earrings (guys), lip rings or any other visible offensive garb. Wear presentable business attire, from Brooks Brothers perhaps. Nothing sloppy or hanging. Remember your manners. Emmulate Emily Post.
My jaw dropped at the first sentence. And a giggle escaped at the last. Emily Post? Brooks Brothers? What industry does he think this is, banking?
I caught the eye of a student in the first row and slowly shook my head "nooooooooooo." I mean, come on. First of all: Show me your goddamn tattoos. You are in a CREATIVE industry. Of course I want to see your personality in all its colors. (there may be exceptions to this in terms of vulgarity, but I haven't see it yet). Don't disguise your personality during an interview. God, if I ruled out all the pierced and tattooed people I'd be left with a very, very small pool of candidates to choose from.
The sloppy and manners part I will give him. But this seems more like common sense than worldly advice. Don't look like something the cat dragged in and be courteous. No brainers. But certainly don't act like anyone that you are not. Because if I hire you, I want to make sure I've seen your true personality, how you really dress and behave. That helps me determine what kind of creative contribution you'd make in our department. And sometimes that involves a big fat lip ring.