I Hired This Totally Rad Guy

I broke about five rules in the employee handbook to hire someone. And I don’t even care.

Meet Rad:











Rad is driving the creative bus at the dealership now. Which? Is awesome.

We needed to hire someone for our digital marketing spot. We needed someone artistic, creative, and talented. I went to a digital art fair in Ann Arbor, Michigan (where lots of artsy people live) to source talent, and I came back with Rad (Go Bucks!). His work is impeccable. He’s truly gifted.

Nervously, I walked into our CEO’s office, before making Rad a job offer. You see, Rad doesn’t look like anyone we’ve have ever hired. Ever. And I didn’t want Tom to be caught off guard. This is a small business, and he knows everyone who works for him.

ME: Tom, I found the perfect guy for the digital job. He has long hair, but he braids it, so it looks nice. Probably better than mine. Oh, and he has a ZZ Top beard, but Jesus had a beard, and Jesus is pretty awesome. Oh, and he has gauges in his ear holes. I am pretty sure one of his earrings is a bolt. And since we bolt things together here, I think he will fit in well with the Service Technicians; they like bolts. Oh, And his name is Rad. For real, that’s his name, and he lives up to it.

*takes a deep breath*

*waits for CEO to tell me no*

CEO: And?

ME: Well.. I just wanted to run it by you. You know… since the handbook clearly states that we can’t have people with facial piercings, visible tattoos, braids to their butts, and ZZ Top beards… I need to break the rules this time… And if I ask him to change, it will be like cutting off Sampson’s hair… I think it will stifle his creativity and possibly kill him… No one wants Rad to die… And passing on him because of his appearance would be a mistake…

CEO: Meredith. Stop. Looks like you’d better re-think that section of the handbook.

So I did it! I hired Rad! Everyone loves this guy. He’s a perfect fit for our fun culture. I am so happy I didn’t pass his booth based on our previous policies.

Now I have to change the employee handbook in regards to personal appearance. This is where I need your help!

What does your handbook say about how people should look at work? Do you allow gauged earrings? Are tattoos allowed to be visible? Where does your company draw the line? Or are companies who draw lines out of date?

FOT Background Check

Meredith Soleau
Meredith Soleau was supposed to be a famous country singer, but her parents made her go to college and major in something “real.” She graduated with a B.S. in Business from the University of Toledo, and landed a gig as a Human Resources Director at a large car dealership in Ohio. After eight years of HR at a car dealership, she burned out, decided to sell cars herself, and has since launched her agency, where she specializes in finding blue-collar workers. Clearly she has plenty of stories. But the best stories are probably about Meredith, herself. Read them on her personal blog, meredithsoleau.com, where she holds nothing back. Follow Meredith on Twitter. Become her friend on Facebook. Connect with her on LinkedIn.


  1. HRPufnstuf says:

    It’s actually on the surface simple. Appearance guidelines should only exist if appearance affects profitability. I do think that corporate culture many times has lagged regional/national norms, generally taking the more conservative approach, but that’s a decision usually designed to protect profitability.

    The challange companies struggle with is making policies that are fair and defensible. Example: a company has a policy that allows visible tattoos. Is it all tattoos? Do they limit images that are mysoginistic, religously offensive, contain commonly acceptable swear words,etc. If the company does, who sets the moral compass and ensures that it is applied fairly? Since “offensive” is subjective and can be interpreted very differently by fellow employees and customers it is then most often the company tactic to just ban all visible tattoos as that is patently fair to all employees.

    I have ink, and I keep it covered up at all times. Some of my tats are military and since we work in an international and multicultural environment, I do it not because it is mandated by the company, but out of courtesy to our customers and my fellow employees who may not share my appreciation for the US military, or may have had a family member that did not return from an encounter with my unit.

    So sorry it got long winded but essentially what I’m saying is you have to do what’s best for the long term viability and profitability of your employer, because that is what allows them to pay salaries, pay benefits and otherwise give the employees the freedom to have the life they want, and sometimes that means employees may need to abdicate some of their personal freedom and take one for the team.

  2. Tatiana Beale says:

    Great read! I’m so glad to hear you hired Rad. At my company, we absolutely do not have rules about appearances. That’s not to say we don’t encourage our employees to use good judgement when it comes to their appearance, but this has nothing to do with piercings or tattoos. We hire based on culture fits for our lively, thriving employee environment. We have a tight-knit group of employees at my company, and we hire based on the likelihood of fitting in with our culture long-term. This is what progressive, top employers are all about these days.

  3. Justin says:

    It’s interesting, especially in dealing with the general public, because we’re faced with social norms, and the younger generations are becoming the norm. I get complimented by some on my tattoos, and others I have to hide them thoroughly.

  4. Hallie says:

    Some people from my generation (millennial) don’t want to work for a company that’s going to judge their work ethic, character, intelligence, productivity, etc, etc based on their earrings or tattoos. I have tattoos and an MBA and I am the director of R&D at my company. If someone was going to deny me employment based on my ink? LMFAO. What next? Are you going to make me wear pantyhose with my suit that has shoulder pads?

  5. I love this! I’m a big fan of lessening these sorts of rules, because workplaces are the single biggest contributors to stigmas against piercings/tattoos/etc. Of course, it all depends on the mission. I work somewhere that facial piercings are not allowed, and hair must be normal human-type colors, because we could have media/major donors/legislators in the office at any time. And I can understand that…. our mission is paramount, and I’m not willing to let any given person’s (including my own) freedom of personal expression get in the way of accomplishing our mission.

    But then, part of attracting the best talent is finding people who are different and letting them shine! It’s a delicate balance, and I think the lines have to be totally individual to the company/organization. It’s really hard to say from the outside what is OK and what is not.

    In general, though, I’d say a policy that says “you give a shit about how you’re perceived, and it shows” is good for any kind of remotely front-facing role. You can have facial piercings and look good and put-together; it’s not unheard of. But then, that’s the exact kind of fuzzy policy that’s asking to be abused.

    Our handbook says something like “you should assume that someone from the media/a legislator could come into the office at any time, and dress appropriately.” It’s vague, but I feel that it has worked well for us.

  6. Kyle Jones says:

    I think the key here is…..does the personal appearance of this person negatively impact the business’s ability to sell to the customer base? Does the personal appearance fall outside of societal norms to a degree that it makes the employee a distraction to other coworkers. If yes….alternatives night need considering.

  7. Great read! As others have said, it depends on your company culture and how someone’s appearance may affect the business. The key is knowing how something like this may affect your business, and being honest about it. Our basic premise is you need to be neat, clean, in good repair and not revealing (you might be shocked at how difficult that last one seems to be). In today’s world, piercings and tattoos are commonplace, and unless totally outrageous or inappropriate, don’t have a great deal to do with one’s performance.

  8. Vidal F. says:

    Hahaha I work in the Middle East – imagine that!
    Not hiring people that look like Rad or refrain from hiring individuals that break the “traditional” business appearance rules would leave us with an empty office.
    Office rules, like anything else must keep up with the world outside, where we actually recruit real people. Telling people WHAT to wear (or not to wear) is most likely not a good idea, explaining/influencing people on HOW to wear, perhaps is more efficient and makes more logical sense. If the rules (or guidelines for a better buy-in) makes real, tangible business sense, and you’re hiring the right people, they will buy-in on it.

  9. Shannon says:

    One of my favorite quotes about dress codes is an oldie but a goodie from the head of HR at Netflix: “We don’t have a dress code, but no one has ever shown up to work naked.”

  10. Jessica says:

    I work for a nonprofit legal services provider. My board is comprised of some pretty high level attorneys in Fortune 500 companies. I am the Director of Finance and Adminstration which means that HR is part of my job. We do not have a dress code or a personal appearance mandate. We expect that people understand what is appropriate to wear in a business environment. One of our biggest areas of practice is employment and our attorney told us once that dress/personnel appearance codes end up in personnel policies to impose blanket policies rather than deal directly with an employee(s) who doesn’t have the good sense to know how to dress or because someone complains that so and so’s skirt is too short, shirt is too sheer, etc.
    BTW, I have 9 tattoos, including two bands around each arm, a band around my ankle and a pretty big tattoo on my calf. One of my assistants (who is my best one) has a sleeve on her arm. She generally keeps her arm covered but not because we mandate it. For example, if I am going to a meeting I will likely wear something that covers my tattoos. A normal day in the office, the tattoos may be uncovered.

  11. Damian Ferty says:

    When I was reading the article I was really thinking on how should a candidate look so not to hire him just based on that? And then I read Vidal’s comment and it made my day :). It’s crazy how superficial we are, and how looks can be such a decisive factor in landing a job.
    It’s really time to brush up on our inter-cultural skills and see how what is perfectly normal for us, is unacceptable some place else, and vice-versa. It would be awful to miss out on an opportunity like Rad, just because somebody doesn’t align themselves to your image of a professional.

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