In college, I got my eyebrow pierced. (I know, I was just going to go with the ear or nose, but, of course, wanted to be on the leading edge of cool.) A week later I applied for a summer job at an EMS-style outdoor store in Burlington, Vermont.

Got hired. Showed up my first day. Store manager says, “Hey, what’s that? I must’ve missed it in your interview. You gotta take it out.”

Take it out? We’re in frickin’ Vermont!

I needed the job, so I did—even though my “pierce-ist” (right?) said it would close up and be very painful to put back in every night (it was—so much so that I eventually gave it up altogether).

Point is, to be gainfully employed means making concessions—some bigger than others, depending on how “corporate” your publishing company is.

Add to that the absurd amount of laid off magazine people angling in the market for a job right now, publishers can be as picky as they want to be. Conformity, at least at first, would be advisable.

Which makes this Q+A with Ellen Gordon Reeves, a noted job hunting expert—posted on, the increasingly indispensable Web site for young, aspiring magazine professionals—all the more bizarre:

Q: So can someone wear a nose ring to the interview?

A: Sure, wear your nose ring. Just understand that at least 50% of employers or more may not hire you. [Ed note: Know your magazine! A good rule of thumb: If the people in their pages habitually wear nose rings, they won’t hold it against you if you show up with one.] Know the culture of the workplace and the magazine to which you’re applying. If you’re a nose ring wearer, you need a nose ring-friendly environment.

Hey, here’s an idea: take it out!

It might hurt to put back in, but it’s small price to pay for being employed in the publishing industry in 2009.

After all, having a job, particularly in this economy, is the coolest look you can have.