As tattoos become increasingly popular, the public opinion around them is starting to change. Yet the question still remains, do tattoos affect your chances in the job market?
A New Tolerant Attitude to Tattoos?
Recent research suggests that a new tolerant attitude is now replacing the negative perceptions that previously accompanied tattoos. However, we are still far away from a climate of total acceptance.
Although social standards are adapting to fit with the times, some people remain as rigid as ever.
It used to be the case that a visible tattoo automatically ruled you out of a large percentage of employment opportunities. This is due to the outlaw status tattoo’s previously held. However, we have since reached the point where workers from many industries can feel comfortable displaying their body art.
Recent Studies Show That Tattoo Perception is Changing
A study published in the Journal of Human Resources claims that the perception of tattoos in the workplace has altered to the point in which visible body art is no longer a factor in individual employment or wage discrimination. This was absolutely not the case as recently as ten years ago.
So What Has Changed?
There are several factors: The last decade has seen more millennials promoted into management positions. At the same time, the tattoo itself has reached a previously unthinkable level of popularity. This is partly down to the fact that celebrity and social media culture have pushed body art into the mainstream. These factors help to undermine the negative stereotypes that used to accompany tattoos. Modern hiring managers are much less concerned about giving the job to candidates with visible tattoos than they were in the past.
However, increasing acceptance should not be confused with total acceptance. There is still some distance to travel before the tattoo is fully accepted in the professional environment.
Anne Rieck is the senior manager of human resources at Workopolis:
“I think attitudes have gotten better over time…but I think there are still some mixed perceptions as to whether or not it’s a professional appearance or an appearance that employers want to have as part of their company image”.
Andrew Timming is a professor at the University of Western Australia Business School. He has conducted multiple studies on tattoos in the workplace. Like Rieck, he believes tattoos can still affect your chances in the job market:
“Overall, employers still hold negative perceptions toward body art and continue to stereotype, but these perceptions are changing quickly”.
Some professions are stricter than others when it comes to setting rules on the physical appearance of employees. For example, an elementary school teacher is much more likely to face tattoo discrimination than a mechanic. That is due to the nature of the work and what it entails.
A Visible Tattoo Can Still Affect Your Chances of Getting a Job in Certain Industries
For this reason, it is still well-advised for certain people to get their tattoos in discreet locations. Tattoos that are impossible to hide, such as the face, hand, and neck tattoos are more likely to affect a person’s career opportunities. This is simply down to the fact they are there to be seen.
As Anne Rieck points out:
“First impressions are made quickly and are long-lasting,” she explains. “Within the first 90 seconds of an interview, a hiring manager may make the determination if they would go ahead and hire that person or not. So I think individuals need to assess on their own accord if they want to go to an interview and display their piercings and tattoos because that’s the brand they’ve built up as a person. Or do they want to wear long sleeves and cover them up?”
Tattoos are going through a process of social normalization. The outlaw quality they held in the past is being replaced by acceptability and popularity. However, in certain professions, it may never be acceptable to work with visible tattoos such as face tattoos.
We recommend you do your research and think ahead, there are many ways you can express yourself with tattoo’s and not jeopardize your employment opportunities. Alternatively, if you would like to remove a tattoo that you believe is harming your chances in the job market – this is possible too.
If you are looking to get advice about tattoo’s or tattoo removal, please leave your comments in the box below.