Have you recently gotten some fresh ink? You’re not alone—getting tattoos has been on the rise in America—and Millennials are leading the pack with an estimated 47% of them having at least one tattoo. Not only is the tattoo business booming and expected to grow, but according to a survey conducted in 2018, it is estimated that 40% of households have occupants with tattoos.
Tattoos have become more accepted and even appreciated in public spaces. A whole slew of celebrities sport tattoos and there are at least five reality shows dedicated solely to tattooing.
So, what does this mean for the working world?
Tattoos have become normalized…
In past decades, tattoos were heavily stigmatized and getting one could seriously impact your job opportunities. But now? Not so much.
Since tattoos have become so popular and we are in a candidate’s market, workplaces have had to adapt in order to increase their talent pool. If employers were to discriminate against tattooed talent in an already competitive market, they would greatly limit the number of applicants to choose from and needlessly weed out great candidates for arbitrary reasons.
All of this points to tattoos being no big deal in the workplace.
…To a degree
While having a tattoo won’t theoretically stop you from getting your dream job, there are a few factors to consider.
“Professionally speaking, you want people to hear you rather than be distracted by your appearance. Think about how you display or cover up your tattoos, so your messaging is heard. With that being said, everyone has opinions, and at the end of the day, you have to be your true authentic self,” says Sharon Tsao, CMO of Contemporary Staffing Solutions.
If your tattoo can be hidden, then in the eyes of your employer, you don’t have any. Even if you have visible tattoos, like on your forearms or wrists, these are likely acceptable. Face and neck tattoos though? That’s basically a no-go. Even though tattoos are being destigmatized, face and neck (and occasionally hand) tattoos bear a negative connotation. Despite popular rappers thriving with their face tattoos, this placement is still associated with criminality and unprofessionalism and can hinder your job prospects.
No one is going to bat an eye at your rose tattoo (unless it’s poorly done), but they will take notice of any obscene art you may have visible on your body. While these kinds of tattoos may be few and far between, consider this: if you wouldn’t hang this kind of art in your cubicle, you shouldn’t have it out at work.
For a job interview, it’s in your best interest to professionally dress to the nines and to keep your tattoos covered. While your potential employer may not care about your ink, they very much may, and covering your tattoos will prevent you from being discriminated against. During the interview process, you can also get a feel for company culture and see if the workplace is an accepting environment where you think you would work well, despite any body art.
In an advertising, marketing, or a similarly creative profession, tattoos can be celebrated. In creative-type jobs, self-expression in the form of body modifications (tattoos, piercings, dyed hair, stretched ears, etc.) is more accepted and even appreciated! Certain professions, however, are more straitlaced than others—what flies as a web developer might not fly as a lawyer. This doesn’t mean don’t get tattoos at all—just consider your profession or future profession and be wary of placement.
Along with tattoos becoming more prevalent, so too have piercings and unnaturally dyed hair. While nostril piercings are basically on par with ear piercings at this point, the same isn’t true for other facial piercings. Just to be safe, follow the same advice for tattoos above—it’s better to hide any piercings or wait to dye your hair pink until you know it won’t be a problem with your employer.
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Contemporary Staffing connects job seekers to hiring managers nationally in the following professions: Accounting & Finance, Call Center & Office, Human Resources, IT, Salesforce, and Sales & Marketing.