Are Tattoos Scaring Away Our Job Opportunities?

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“Are you crazy?” “You will never get a job” “You’ve ruined your life” “That’s forever, you know?” “You will regret it when you are older”. These are just some of the comments tattooed people get when others see their body art or know about their plans of getting a tattoo.

Even though tattoos have been around for thousands of years, more and more people are joining this social trend. This art expression has become a popular choice among adults between 18 and 40 years old. According to a study published by the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, at least half of the people in their 20's in America have either a tattoo or a piercing that is not the traditional earrings. Beyond the fact that tattoos will literally be part of our lives forever and we must be aware of that when selecting the winning design, there is a more important issue on the table: Should tattoos be allowed in the workplace?

This issue has originated a serious debate; while some employers support the idea of hiring people despite their body art, others believe that having tattoos is unprofessional and affects a company’s image. In this regard, some employers prefer hiring people with a “neat” and “clean” appearance, as they would properly represent their companies. In the conservative business world, it is important for executives to preserve morals and good customs. In fact, older people, especially in this field, associate tattoos with criminals, alcoholics, and rebels. In their eyes, tattooed people don’t offer a professional image.

However, as society evolves, tattoos are becoming more and more accepted as they are not a reflection of how professional, qualified, or prepared a person is. Furthermore, judging a person only based on how they look instead of on their skills and morals, and their professional and academic achievements could be considered offensive. Important business people such as Courtney Pecola, vice president of Philadelphia’s ZB Sports, or Bruce Potts, a professor at The University of New Mexico, both have visible tattoos and that hasn’t stopped them from doing an excellent job.

When interacting with customers, however, tattoos may become a serious issue because even though employers may be okay with them, the client might not. In fact, some findings reveal that, when in doubt, consumers prefer to communicate with non-tattooed front-line staff. Despite the time they’ve been around, tattoos are still considered a negative aspect of a person’s appearance. However, according to Fox News, American adult consumers wouldn't change current product shopping habits if employees had visible tattoos and piercings, as long as they feel well assisted and treated, they don’t really mind being assisted by a tattooed employee.

Based on the aforementioned topics: Are tattoos a real problem in the workplace?

Even though work policies may change from one company to another, having a tattoo nowadays doesn’t mean failure nor a way to ruin one’s future. However, it is worth mentioning that, according to a study from 2011, 31% of surveyed employers said that “having a visible tattoo” was the top reason to not give a promotion to an employee. Therefore, accepting a tattoo will solely depend on the field people work in and the agreements they reach with their employers, because even though we live in a tolerant, progressive world, we are individuals who are part of a society and we all need to adapt to our environment. A tattoo doesn’t define us and they are not a way to measure our professional skills. Tattoos represent an aspect or an important moment of our lives.

Mariels Carpio / NEUVOO
Online Content Creator