Are Tattoos and Piercings in the Workplace OK? The Professional Consequences of Body Art


Body art can play a big part in an employers perception of a potential candidate seeking a professional career. Many employers have negative stereotypes about tattooed candidates and that these people are better suited particular industries other than an office, which is awfully near sighted. To minimize problems, those that don’t have many tattoos should consider having future work placed strategically.  Those with many tattoos still have the options of covering them up with clothing or makeup but that can get old fairly quick. These aspects should be thought through before embarking on important career moves.

Blending Body Art and a Career

tattoos-for-girls-on-shoulder Are Tattoos and Piercings in the Workplace OK? The Professional Consequences of Body Art

People with professional lives are usually judged on a number of factors. Experience and ability are paramount, but appearance is also a large part of the hiring process. Candidates with tattoos are typically associated with rebels, inmates or irresponsible types. There is a general belief that the appearance of a heavily-tattooed applicant is unprofessional by default. Potential employees are often judged if they have numerous visible tattoos, but there are ways to overcome this problem. The number of tattoos one has at the time may determine how he or she should pursue future career goals at that point in life.

Common Opinions About Body Art

People with tattoos and body piercings often view themselves as walking canvasses, but they also face discrimination from many others. Those with body art are sometimes seen as eccentric, rambunctious or immature. These misconceptions and unfair beliefs affect the way some people are able to obtain work. Business managers want employees that follow common rules, and those with expressive appearances are seen as rebels. Many employers want an advantage in the competitive business world, but having workers that stand out too much may not end well in environments where image is important. Research has shown that employers are significantly less likely to hire or promote individuals with tattoos and piercings. Despite such judgment, people from all walks of life may have at least one tattoo even if others may not be aware of it.

Situations Where Tattoos Are More Accepted

Body art that is on display may be harshly criticized by some, but it is widely accepted, or even praised in other scenarios. There are numerous careers and companies that accept individuals with visible tattoos. Companies that aim to give off an image of edginess or hipness are more likely to accept this kind of expression. Most people are aware of the fact that careers that allow for creativity and expression are often filled with workers donning tattoos, body piercings, colorful hairdos and much more. Some of these careers may involve music, athletics, acting, culinary arts, themed retail, photography, graphic design, painting and much more.

Consequences Potential Employees Should Consider

Depending on the type of job one wishes to obtain, the number, size or content of his or her tattoos should be considered before entering the job market. These days, many people are more open to the idea of getting tattooed because they feel confident that they can have them removed if necessary. There are numerous methods for “removing” tattoos, but they are still virtually permanent. Laser or chemical procedures may lead to damage to the surface of the skin. Even if there is no damage they rarely remove the image completely. Most people are left with blurred colors and smudged lines even after tattoo removal surgery. Some tattoos may prove to be a mistake when looking for a certain type of job. As people age the artwork becomes less appealing as their skin gets older, and many people regret having had them done.

Hiding a Tattoo

Those that already have tattoos when seeking jobs where they may not be commonly seen still have options for avoiding their display. Size will be a factor in this instance, and the smaller a tattoo is the easier it will be to cover it. Those with tattoos can cover any body art with pants and long sleeves. This works only if the tattoos are conveniently placed to be covered by clothing. They should also be small enough to be covered completely. Those with tattoos on the neck or hands (or any other exposed areas) will need a better solution.

Concealing a Tattoo

When tattoos cannot be covered with clothing, or when clothing is not enough to cover them; makeup can be used. The proper makeup can conceal large or dark ink in the skin. Makeup used to cover tattoos can be applied as a cream, liquid or as an airbrushing spray. This kind of makeup comes in a large variety of colors that are made to match human flesh. The best concealer will be one that matches the natural skin color as perfectly as possible. Anything else may look pasty or dirty.

How Tattoos Impact the Workplace

Visible body art, including piercings, can have a negative effect on one’s career prospects. This is a form of discrimination that is quite common. A successful job candidate will exemplify the qualities of their peers in the workplace. Experience and competence are the most important aspects of this characteristic, but appearance is also an important part of workplace unity. Most professional jobs require a conservative look without hair, piercings or tattoos that are distracting. Once hired, the employee should appeal to potential clients as well. If he or she stands out because of a different look this may have a negative effect on the company’s success.

Considering Tattoos and Future Career Plans

Individuals that are set on having body art should consider how this will affect their career paths. The need for expression in appearance shouldn’t impact one’s ability to achieve success. It is wise to consider each tattoo beforehand and how it may present a challenge when seeking work later. If tattoos are a large priority they should be sought only for those that have no inhibitions as to how many they will have, where they will be located and how large they will be. Those that have more professional plans for the future may want to avoid adding additional or extremely noticeable tattoos.

Requirements for Future Tattoos

Despite the possible disadvantages some people still choose to get new tattoos when involved in the professional world. Before doing so there should be a few requirements to ensure these tattoos will not be a problem for advancement. The design should be small and conservative. Anything too rebellious will not only offend potential employers, but it may also become embarrassing years later. In addition, a future tattoo should be planned around its ability to be covered. Those on the face, hands, neck or fingers will be hard to cover with clothes or accessories, but they can still be helped with makeup.

Each individual must make their own decisions when it comes to tattoos, piercings and other bodily adornment. This type of expression can be controversial at times, but it is more acceptable among some parties. For younger generations having a tattoo is almost expected as it is so common. The potential consequences of numerous, large or heavily-colored tattoos may need to be weighed heavily or discussed with loved ones for those just starting out in their career paths.


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