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Tattoos in the Workplace: Is it Still a Big Deal?

December 10, 2015

Is it still a big deal to have tattoos in the workplace?

Love them or hate them, but tattoos are the norm.

Depending on which industry you’re looking at, you might see many professionals with tattoos like chefs, musicians and artists. If you’re interviewing for a creative job, having a tattoo most likely wouldn’t be a big deal. But let’s face it, not everyone with a tattoo is capable of cooking a meal. Or they could be as creative as a rock.

According to several studies and research, having visible tattoos affects a job seeker’s prospects when looking for a job. So what can you do when you’re looking for a job in a field that’s not as accepting of tattoos?

The funny thing is that so many Americans have tattoos. A Pew Research poll conducted in 2010 showed that 23% of Americans have a tattoo. For millennials (those who are 18-29 years old), 38% of them said they have a tattoo. Of all respondents surveyed, 72% of them said that their tattoo isn’t visible.

Tattoos in the workplace. Is it still a big deal?

That’s almost a quarter of the population who have tattoos, so why would there be problems with having a tattoo at work? From surveys, it appears that older generations are less tolerant of tattoos. And that’s partly because they associate tattoos with convicts and gangs, which is an age-old assumption. Surveys have also shown that people without tattoos think that tattooed folks are more likely to do something deviant.

These assumptions unfortunately carry into different areas of life such as professional life. Salary.com surveyed 2,700 people about how they deal with tattoos in the workplace. The questions focused on how people felt tattoos affected their chances of landing a job.

Some results:

  • 76% of those surveyed feel tattoos and piercings hurt an applicant’s chances of getting hired during a job interview
  • 39% of those surveyed believe tattoos and piercings reflect poorly on their employers
  • 42% feel visible tattoos are always inappropriate at work

What Can You Do About Your Tattoos?

Cover it up

When you’re looking for a job, try to find out what the company’s dress code and policy is on tattoos. Sometimes this information is available online. But the best advice is to cover up and be conservative in clothing choice when attending a job interview, especially when you don’t know what the company (or hiring manager’s) policy is on tattoos. If you want a tattoo, the best bet is to have it in an area that you can cover up easily if you needed to.

Tattoo removal

While laser tattoo removal might be a tad bit extreme to make the job hunt easier, this is a reason why some people have removed their tattoos. Surveys show that 23% of Americans who have at least one tattoo said they considered tattoo removal. One of the reasons includes impact on professional lives as well as general tattoo regret.

Tattoos are a form of body art and creative expression. Some companies are very lax about their employees having tattoos (we are entering 2016 afterall). Hiring managers have some of their own tattoos, too. But there are still workplaces and industries that aren’t fond of tattoos and piercings. The final takeaway is to cover up your tattoos if you can when you’re in your next interview if you think it could affect your chances of scoring the job.

Posted by Jenn Horowitz