Dear Orna: I have a tattoo on my back and I am thinking of getting a couple of more tattoos on my arm and hands. I just graduated from college and my girlfriend says more tattoos will prevent me from getting a good job. Is she right?
~ Signed: INK the Deal
Dear INK the DEAL: Although tattoos were once associated with sailors and laborers, they have become a lot more popular and "fashionable" these days. In fact, the tattoo industry has ballooned into a $2 Billion business and continues to grow. And a recent Pew Research Study found that nearly 40% of people between the ages of 18 and 29 have at least one tattoo. However, your girlfriend makes a valid point. The survey also found that over two-thirds of the 2,675 people asked, said that tattoos and piercings hurt an applicants chance of being hired.
What Does a Tattoo Say About You?
Employers can, and do, make hiring decisions based on appearance. And if they find your tattoo unappealing, then chances are, you won't get the job! When recruiters were asked their opinions about tattoos, they admitted that there is a stigma associated with it. A tattoo gives the impression that the person is impulsive and rebellious. And that leads an employer to wonder if this individual would respond well to direction and management.
In addition, employers are concerned that their customers will perceive a negative service experience based on stereotypes that tattooed people are thugs or even disrespectful. Keep in mind, employees are hiring people with the hopes of improving their business and so are not willing to take the risk if they feel that the opposite might happen.
You Already Have a Tattoo?
If you already have a tattoo, the ball is in your court. It's now up to you to prove you're worth overlooking the tattoo. At the interview, sell your unique skills and capabilities. Show how you can solve their problem and give the hiring manager a good reason to give you a chance. You might also look at industries or job types that appreciate body art. Creative fields such as design, art, music and even advertising often appreciate someone willing to make a bold statement. Be creative with your job hunting and your interview style!
Still Want to Get a Tattoo?
If you plan to work in business, you should get a tattoo that you can cover up under normal business attire. For men, the arms, back and chest are usually covered, so feel free to tattoo those areas. Women should keep in mind that arms and lower legs are often exposed; so you might consider avoiding those areas. Be discrete and you should be OK.