Maxwell Stephens

Attitudes towards Tattoos in the workplace...

Attitudes towards tattoos have certainly changed with the times, and with the prevalence of tattoos in recent generations, research suggests they are more relatable and tolerable – particularly by the younger generation aged 18-25. Some have deeper meanings , some are used as a sense of fashion and some, well because why not? When it comes to tattoos in the workplace, opinions may start to differ quite considerably.

One of the key factors when it comes to acceptance of tattoos in the workplace is the industry in which the business operates. Different industries have different expectations within roles, some are customer facing and some are done from the comfort of your own home. 

Taking the role into account, recruiters then must ascertain whether body art is frowned up or whether it’s actually a desirable trait. For example, research suggests that creative industries (design, advertising, entertainment etc) have a much more favourable attitude towards the ink, this is also true of industries that appeal to a ‘younger demographic’ such as the tech industry. On the other end of the spectrum, for some industries/roles, visible body art could be perceived as unprofessional (e.g. law, health care, education etc)

According to the research on the topic, it does seem perceptions of tattoos is very much a generational issue –  Based on a recent study, only 18% of 18-25 year old’s have a bad opinion of tattoos where as over 60% of those over 60 see them as utterly ‘inappropriate’.

One style of body art which is almost universally alienating in the workplace is facial tattoos. As these are near impossible to cover up and the prevalent negative attitude towards them, facial tattoos will much more often then not cause recruiters to dismiss an otherwise suitable candidate.

When it comes to answering the question of whether tattoos are acceptable in the workplace, unfortunately, there is no definitive answer. As clearly discussed above, there are many variables impacting job prospects regarding tattoos, including the industry, demographics of employer, responsibilities of the job and who you will deal with on a daily basis. This can be frustrating for those wanting to enter a certain sector but are restricted due to their body art. Despite this relative grey area at the moment, when we consider the shift in attitudes in recent generations, it would be fair to assume that in the future we are likely to see tattoos become more and more common throughout all industries.

Although there is no straight answer at the moment, there are certainly some stand out points to be aware of;

– Face tattoos. More than often a no go in most industry’s

– Cover up those tats. On first impression and maybe even through  career you are advised to          cover the tattoos up, this helps to avoid any external pre-judged opinions of yourself (however      wrong they may be).

– Avoid political tattoos, many problems can arise from this and again pre judged opinions of          who you are can force the employer to turn a blind eye.

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