Tattoos and the Job Seeker: The Times Are a Changin’

December 11th, 2019

Traditionally, tattoos were not something to flaunt during an interview. People would carefully cover their ink with cuffed long sleeves, suit jackets, or big bangle jewelry. However, research shows a cultural shift in the hiring process, and it appears that in general having some ink won’t hurt your chances of getting a job.

Studies Support Ink

According to recent research featured in a Harvard Business Review article, tattoos are no longer a detriment to your job search efforts. The study found no significant correlation between body art and employment or earnings. In fact, men with tattoos were 7 percent more likely to be employed than those without ink.

What does this mean for today’s job seeker? You may have a lot of worries before an interview, but your tattoo shouldn’t be one of them. That being said, there are still some best practices you should follow to ensure you make a good first impression and continue down the hiring funnel.

Learn the Culture

Before showing up with a full sleeve of tattoos on display, research the culture of the company where you’re interviewing. If the company projects a liberal and diverse culture — maybe even showing pictures of people with tattoos on their career web page — you are likely OK showing some ink. It might even help you appear more relatable, plus provide a conversation starter.

However, if you can’t find much information on the culture or you discover it’s a more conservative company, cover it up during an interview. You want the focus to be on your skills, resume, and interview answers, not on your skin. Bottom line: If it could be a distraction, err on the side of caution and cover it up.

Different Tattoos, Different Rules

Keep in mind, in the world of interviewing and hiring, not all tattoos are created equal. A face or neck tattoo is still pretty radical for most people, so you should probably cover it up if you have one. Then, ask about company policy regarding body art so you know the dress code expected if you’re hired.

Smaller tattoos, for example, on the ankle or wrist, are far less noticeable and likely won’t cause a problem for men or women job seekers. However, it’s still smart to ask about dress code if you think it may be a concern in the future. It shows you’re alert, engaged, and ready to follow the rules if you’re the one hired.

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