Thursday, July 26, 2007

Tattoo? And You Want To Work Here?

So, who really cares if I have a tattoo or not - especially if I'm a hardworking and dedicated employee? The answer is - it depends...

HERE'S THE MAIN QUESTION TO CONSIDER (IF YOU ARE AN EMPLOYEE) - does the fact that you have a tattoo represent the image that your employer wants to portray to it's customers and clients - and especially their potential customers and clients? When $$ and profits are concerned your employer will always care. Since you already work there you're probably safe today.

HERE'S THE SECOND QUESTION TO CONSIDER (IF YOU ARE A CANDIDATE) - will the fact that I have a tattoo hinder me from getting the job that I'd like to have, make the money I need to make, and progress in my career like I want to?

I began thinking about this topic when I saw this video on CNN's website titled "Tattoos in the workplace" - CNN's Stephanie Elam reported on the prevalence of tattoos at the office and how some companies are responding. The video reported that approximately 25% of Americans between the ages of 18 and 50 have a tattoo and approximately 35% of Americans between the ages of 18 and 29 have a tattoo. If you're thinking like me those percentages sound a little high...

Here's an example to think about based upon the above stats... Let's say that in your company 200 employees fall between the ages of 18 and 50. If this is the case then there's a pretty good chance that about 50 of them have a tattoo. Now I'll bet you are pretty surprised - and I am too.

Now, let's go back to my MAIN QUESTION from the top. In my question I'm making the assumption that you are employed today and you're asking this question because you fall in one of these two following categories:

1. You have a small discrete tattoo today and you are thinking about your second tattoo or the upgrade that may be larger and less discrete.

2. You're thinking about getting your first tattoo.

If this is you then you've got to think about how this move is going to impact your current employment and future promotional opportunities. If this is your first tattoo and you've already decided that it's going to be small and discrete (and in a location that probably no one will see) I'd say your pretty safe. But, maybe you fall in the first question - this will obviously be a bigger decision and will take more thought from you as to the size and location - both of these will determine your future...But, maybe you don't care at all - then this may be your chance to rage against the machine and just accept how the chips fall...

Now, let's got back to my SECOND QUESTION from the top. You don't have a job or are very early in your career and have started to send out resumes and interview with prospective employers. How is your tattoo going to impact your ability to find work or has it already impacted your ability to find work?

Because of the size and location of your tattoo do you need to start looking into tattoo removal? If your curious about the idea, check out this video on CNN's website titled "Tattoo removal a big business". The doctor they interviewed says that it can cost up to $4,000 to get a tattoo removed and approximately 80% of his patients are women.

I found this article on Fox News titled "Body Art and Tattoos in the Workplace" and it gives a great example of a librarian at the University of Kentucky that desipite her tattoos has been pretty successful gaining and keeping employment.

Here's a quote from the article...The 27-year-old — who has multiple masters degrees and a job at the University of Kentucky's research library — feels no pressure to cover up. "It's not really possible at this point, unless I wore gloves," Harris said, adding that she thinks academia has been more accepting of her body art than the corporate world would be. "I think my qualifications should speak for themselves."

This other quote from the article reminds us that there are companies that are accepting of tattoos and body art...For some companies, allowing body art can be a boon - it attracts young workers that may not feel welcome in more conservative environments, said Paul Forster, CEO of the job search Web site (which shows that postings for tattoo artist have surged in the past year). Forster allows body art in the office, and about a quarter of his 25 employees have it.

Now the decision is up to you - it's completely your call on how you want to tackle this decision...

If you are still after more here are some links to more articles and policies on this topic.
Check out this post from George's Employment Blawg
Here's a quick take from Workforce
Here's an article from MaineToday
Check out this policy from the Army


P.S. Here's a place where tattoos are not only exposed but also encouraged - Miami Ink or check out LA Ink where Kat (pictured above) has a new show and place to work.


Jess said...

To be honest, I don't think most people should have a problem. As long as you don't go to your interview actually showing off your ink, then you can be sure you won't be judged on it.

As you note, most companies would probably be surprised at the number of employees who actually have tattoos that they don't know about.

The only problem areas might be hands, neck or head: if you get a tattoo in one of these places, then it becomes hard to cover up if you are in a situation where you might want to. You probably have to be quite hardcore into tattoos in order to get inked in any of those places anyway.

Although I regularly show off my tattoos at work, I have demonstrated time and again that I am perfectly capable of covering them up with a suit and hobnobbing with bankers!

Actually, I've found that if I accidently show them off (my shirt sleeves are shorter than I expect or something), they can be a benefit. As a journalist working in the business world, they are a bit of a surprise, and can get people talking!

Miyo said...

I seem to have the opposite problem I want to work in a tattoo shop but I only have one very small tattoo were it is not visable unless I choose to make it so. The tattooists only see me as a potential client but I want to be a tattoo artist and when I try talking to them about it they dont want to know. I am also female and almost 40. I will not give up and hope to find someone to teach me ASAP as I can only learn so much from dvds etc. I am already an artist and have a very steady hand and also use machines to cut wooden light switch decorations, then I paint them lots of detail (check my web site) and make wooden pens. I wish it had occured to me to be a tattooist 20 years ago.

Anonymous said...

Well you know sometimes the tatoo goes wrong and you end up with a permanent mistake on your skin, which really suck, as long as you got the right one its ok,
lucky for me I did'nt get a mistake on my skin, Instead I found this ebook on the website, i give you guys a link below, you can get a tatoo book that gives you all the tatoo so you can choose the righte one and ask for that to be on your skin. It also tells you how to make the tatoo your self, which is pretty cool.
heres the link:
Also its was LESS THAN $5.00 BUCKS, pretty cool.