Tattoos and the Job Search

If you’ve got a tattoo, you’re far from alone. A 2010 Pew Research poll found nearly a quarter (23 percent) of Americans had at least one tattoo.  That number rises to 32 percent of Generation X and surges to 40 percent of Millennials. When it comes to the latter group, 18 percent of those sporting “ink” have six tattoos or more.

Whether you got inked as a fraternity initiation, military rite of passage, or on a drunken whim, your “tats” are a part of you. As you embark on a job search, you probably find yourself wondering if an employer is willing to accept that fact or be less likely to hire you because of it.

Body art has been around since pre-historic times, but it’s rarely been a welcome site in the workplace. Conventional wisdom has held that tattoos and piercings distract co-workers and customers. Fortunately, that attitude may be changing. According to Challenger, Gray & Christmas, most employers say they care more about a candidate’s qualifications than their appearance. As a result, some of the most conservative industries have relaxed their policies with regard to tattoos. Even such staid organizations as Bank of America say they have no formal policy about tattoos, instead choosing to “value our differences and recognize that diversity and inclusion are good for our business…”

While there has definitely been a loosening of the “no visible tattoos” rule, many employers retain strict “cover up” policies. In health care, for example, employers commonly require employees to cover their tattoos while on the job. Even if an employer doesn’t insist that you cover your tats, you may wish to do so anyway. A 2011 study by CareerBuilder found 31 percent of employers ranked “having a visible tattoo” as the top personal attribute that would dissuade them from promoting an employee. A growing number of HR managers say a tattoo would hurt an applicant’s chances of getting a job (61 percent today, up from 57 percent in 2011). When it comes time for a job interview, therefore, it’s probably best to err on the side of caution and cover any visible tattoos.

Don’t panic and run to the plastic surgeon just yet. These days, there are many options for temporarily disguising tattoos. Wear long-sleeved shirts, apply make-up strategically or wear wrist watches and bracelets, if doing so will conceal any markings a potential employer may find objectionable. For harder to cover tattoos, you can buy specially made products, like Tattoo Camo.

With the increasingly greater acceptance of tattoos with each successive generation, you may find that you no longer need to cover your distinctive markings as the years go by. For the time being, however, you should probably just cover up.

Tattoos or no tattoos, if you need help finding the perfect job, contact High Profile Staffing today.