The default behaviour of chmod is to change the behaviour of the file pointed to by the link if the link is one of the command line arguments to chmod. However, chmod will ignore links found during recursive directory searches. From man chmod (for chmod 5.96 on Slackware):
chmod never changes the permissions of symbolic links; the chmod system call cannot change their per-
missions. This is not a problem since the permissions of symbolic links are never used. However, for
each symbolic link listed on the command line, chmod changes the permissions of the pointed-to file.
In contrast, chmod ignores symbolic links encountered during recursive directory traversals.