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Tattoos and Interviews - Think Before You Ink

Updated on August 8, 2013
What are the best ways to approach an interview for someone who has a tattoo?
What are the best ways to approach an interview for someone who has a tattoo? | Source
Tattoos on the hands, neck, and face place a candidate at high risk of being rejected for job placement.
Tattoos on the hands, neck, and face place a candidate at high risk of being rejected for job placement. | Source

Twenty-five percent of adults ages 18 – 30 have at least one tattoo

Tattoos and piercings have become more accepted in today’s society; in fact, twenty-five percent of adults ages 18 – 30 have at least one tattoo. Although society is more tolerant of this form of self expression, employers take a slightly more conservative view.

If tattoos and piercings are a form of – self expression, then why is it a workplace issue and what are the best ways to approach an interview for someone who has a tattoo or piercing?

Today’s workforce has become a challenge to maneuver through. Most states practice at-will employment and have strict qualifications for new hires. Tattoos and piercings have come under some scrutiny in today’s workplace. One of the issues employers have in regard to body art is the perception of employees by customers, and how this reflects on the company as a whole.

Some people still associate tattoos with gang members, bikers, criminals, and other nonconforming members of society. While tattoos and piercings cannot be used as a reason to fire someone from a job, as long as it follows the guidelines in the company’s hand book, they can certainly be a reason the company rejects a candidate.




Placing tattoos in inconspicuous places that can be covered with clothing is recommended.
Placing tattoos in inconspicuous places that can be covered with clothing is recommended.

Placement of all body art is the key

Placing tattoos in inconspicuous places that can be covered with clothing is recommended. Tattoos on the hands, neck, and face place a candidate at high risk of being rejected for job placement.

Many employers have policies that do not allow visible tattoos, and depending on the industry or type of job, this is understandable. Most businesses where employees interact with the public on a regular basis will frown on visible tattoos. These may include banks, restaurants, hotels, and other high profile work environments. On the other hand, jobs that do not require much interaction with the public may have a more relaxed view of tattoos. Some of these may include, dishwashers, maintenance personnel, construction workers, utility workers, and so on.

When it comes to tattoos in the workplace, they are not an issue unless they are visible. Each business will have their own dress codes and appearance policies, and these must be written so they do not discriminate against a person’s race, color, religion, age, national origin, or gender.

Adam Levine of Maroon 5 has well placed tattoos and a great career.
Adam Levine of Maroon 5 has well placed tattoos and a great career. | Source

Perception is reality

When applying for a job, the interview portion of the application is one of several steps in securing the job. The interview may be the only chance you get to make your best impression to a perspective employer. Perception is reality, and people make decisions based on first impressions. It would be a shame to have all the right job skills, education, and experience only to be rejected for a choice position because of the dragon tattoo crawling up your neck.

Even after you land the job, be familiar with the company’s policies pertaining to tattoos. Even if a company allows visible tattoos, large and offensive tattoos have no place in the work environment. A tattoo of a naked woman, or man, may be considered offensive to fellow employees, even religious or politically motivated tattoos may be seen in this light. But a tattoo of your college mascot on your bicep or a flaming sun across your back would be more acceptable because their placement allows for clothing to conceal them, and if you can’t see them they don’t exist.

Craig Ferguson sports a well concealed snake tattoo.
Craig Ferguson sports a well concealed snake tattoo. | Source

You can have a tattoo and a great career

When getting a tattoo, the best policy is careful planning. Many tattoo studios and artists have consultations with clients before a tattoo is started. A tattoo is a permanent feature and its position, message, and size should be carefully considered before making this lifelong commitment. Random placement of body art may give the appearance of the back side of a VW Bug covered in bumper stickers.

The bottom line is that you can have a tattoo and a great career, but you need to be aware of, and adhere to, the company’s policies regarding body art. In essence, think before you ink.

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    • miss_jkim profile imageAUTHOR

      miss_jkim 

      5 years ago

      I couldn't agree more Lybrah. I have seen, mostly elderly men, with old saggy tattoos and wonder what these young girls will look like in their 60's & 70's. I have my ears pierced & that is it. That was done when I was 14 & I had to beg my father because "nice girls" didn't have their ears pierced. He is gone now, but I wonder what he would think of the young people today.

    • profile image

      Lybrah 

      5 years ago

      I always think, "What if, fifty years from now, I'm not the same person I am now?" Then I'm stuck with this tatoo on my body that no longer represents me. Tatoos are way too permanent. At least with piercings you can take them out.

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