Whether it’s the classic “I love mom” tattoo you have on your bicep or the little butterfly on your ankle you got back in college, it’s pretty common these days to see tattoos in the workplace and on job seekers.
There is one man, however, who is trying to break social norms by embracing tattoos in the workplace. Joshua Coburn, promotions specialist for Brownell, has nearly 85 percent of his body covered in tattoos and piercing and believes his tattoos haven’t hindered him in his career. While he is a very successful person, you probably wouldn’t see someone like him working in your typical corporate office.
When it comes to tattoos in the workplace, it really comes down to the type of job you want and the environment you want to work in. Plus, you have to think about whether having a tattoo could jeopardize your chance at landing a job you really want. Even though tattoos are becoming part of a social norm in our culture, it’s important to remember some employers aren’t adapting to tattoos and piercings.
What’s more important? Freedom of self-expression or a job?
If freedom of self-expression is extremely important to you, then you should make it a priority to look for jobs that allow you to have tattoos. However, if you feel like having many career choices is more important, then it’s probably a good idea to refrain from getting the tattoo—or at least having it in a place where it can be easily covered.
Keep in mind, there are hundreds of different ways you can express yourself as a unique person. If you want to express yourself through body art, that is fine; however, you may end up creating a roadblock for yourself in your career. When it comes to your job search and advancing your career, it’s important to decide what your priorities are and how they will have an impact on your success.
Tattoos and the First Amendment.
Many will argue tattoos are protected by the First Amendment, so it’s impossible for employers to discriminate against people who have tattoos. However, only in the state of Arizona are tattoos considered to be protected by freedom of speech. Until this becomes recognized as a right by the United States federal government, most employers are not going to consider tattoos to be protected by the First Amendment. Any employer has the right to fire you or not hire you because of your tattoos.
How is the content of the tattoo viewed by others?
The content of your tattoo can play a huge role in whether or not it will impact your interview or chances of landing a job. Do you have a huge flower on your arm or a tiny tattoo on your wrist that represents something violent? These tattoos are going to be perceived differently by employers.
Many human resources professionals can be alarmed by tattoos that come off as even slightly offensive to their personal views. On the other hand, even something as simple as a sports logo could send a red flag to an employer who is a fan of a competing team. The bottom line is employers are looking for reasons not to hire you, so don’t hurt your chance at a great job over some body art.
Work environment plays a key role in the acceptance of tattoos.
Where you work is a huge factor in how your tattoo(s) can be perceived. For example, if your dream is to work for a bank or on Wall Street, you may not want to have a tattoo that could be visible anywhere on your body, big or small. This could go the same for someone who wants to work in healthcare, such as a doctor or a pharmacist.
On the flip side, there are many companies—like the gun accessory manufacturer Coburn works for—where you can get away with having a tasteful tattoo or can simply cover it up. Just keep in mind when you apply for jobs that you must impress the employer, so always keep their expectations a priority.
Remember, your job search is about the employer.
For you as the job seeker, it’s important to remember your job search just isn’t about you finding a job—it’s about fulfilling the employer’s requirements and meeting their expectations. Regardless of how much experience you have or the unique skills you possess, if you aren’t the right fit for a company because of your appearance (or some other reason), the employer has the right to not hire you. This may seem superficial to some, but depending on some positions, appearance is very important to employers and their reputation.
In the end of course, you have needs that will hopefully be met too during your job search. However, if you only focus on yourself, you’re probably going to have a very hard time finding a job because you are limiting your options. So if you have tattoos or you’re considering “getting inked,” you may want to think twice about how you want to present yourself as a professional.
Do you think tattoos should be allowed in the workplace? Share your thoughts below!