Jackie’s Take on Tattoos in the Workplace

By Jackie Duc

It is no secret that tattoos and piercings are typically viewed as being unprofessional and unwelcomed in the work force. That being said, there are still many students and professionals who have tattoos and are happily employed. Where do we currently stand on the tattooed-professional battleground?

According to a Pew Research Center report, approximately 73 percent of people get their first tattoo during the traditional college age period of 18 and 22 years old, and an estimated 40 percent of Millennials currently have at least one tattoo. This means that close to half of the young adults in America currently have a tattoo. What role could this play in trying to get a job?

There is the general idea that as tattoos are becoming more popular they are becoming more accepted in the workplace, but there are still many traditional professions that don’t look too fondly at tattoos. USA Today reporter Lynn Monty stated that in most cases, employers can legally refuse to hire people with visible tattoos or set requirements for tattoos to be covered while at work. In addition to this, 31 percent of human resource managers said visible tattoos could have a negative impact on their decision whether to hire someone according to a Careerbuilder.com survey of employers.

Now to take it to a more personal level, I myself am an individual who has a few tattoos. Some are more visible then other, but I also have a nose piercing and several ear piercings. As a student, I am constantly asked “How do you expect to get a job once you graduate?”

For me, the most nerve wracking part of tattoos and piercings in the workplace is what do I show in the interview? Should I wear a nose ring or take it out? Should I cover my wrist tattoo with a watch? Is it lying to not show them my tattoos and piercings? Should I ask what their policy is regarding visible tattoos and piercings? Should I show them who I am, and if they don’t like it then I’m not meant to work there – or should I just do whatever I can to get the job?

Well, personally, my visible tattoos are easily concealed with a good pair of heels and a watch. I currently hold two on campus student positions, but I’ve worked several jobs across campus during my time at school. I typically choose to keep my tattoos covered while I’m at work and I rock a stud instead of a nose ring but it has always been my personal choice. Given that the positions I have held are also student leader positions I don’t necessarily believe that this is representative of what it will be like when I enter the “grown-up” work force. We shall see how things go once I graduate I suppose.

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