Think before you ink: the impact tattoos may have on your job search

Monday 22 July, 2013
They're becoming more and more common. The Pew Research Centre in the United States says that more than one in three Gen Nexters (those in the 18-25 age bracket) have one or more tattoos. But whilst just as many youngsters are expressing themselves through their body art, tattoo removalists are also experiencing surges in numbers of individuals wanting them to be removed. Many of those individual's seeking the popular laser removal treatment are job seekers, struggling to find work. And whilst some will argue that those with tattoos should not be discriminated against, that as long as the tattoo isn't offensive and as long as the individual can do the job to the expected standards, then there shouldn't be a problem, this is a rather naive view. Right now, many of those employing this group of tattooed Gen Nexters are over the age of 50. In their days, those with tattoos were the 'rough and tough' sort of people, some had been in prison, some were mentally ill. It's difficult to really believe that an employer will refrain from making judgments about a potential employee based on their physical appearance - yes, it's hugely unfair and it's very difficult to prove but it's important that this discussion of the potential consequences of tattoos are made. As Tony Featherstone, a writer for the Sydney Morning Herald asks: If you had two equally qualified students to choose from to hire '” one covered with tattoos, one without, who would you chose? In fact, just this year Air New Zealand rejected a job applicant based on a tattoo the individual had on her arm.  This is just one of many examples. Many other workplaces have policies on keeping tattoos hidden, even if this means wearing a long sleeve shirt on a sweltering weekday. Others argue that tattoos are so common place these days that eventually, they will be as normal as people with nose piercings '“ something which only ten years ago was considered 'radical'. Already, there are many professions and places where tattoos are becoming more and more acceptable '“ trendy bars and eating places, personal training studios, surfer stores, rock bands and those who work in construction. However, they are still not viewed favorably in any white-collar industry. In some people's opinions, this can only be detrimental to the employer. With so many people now the proud owners of their own tattoo, they could potentially be missing out on the best person for the job, all because they are put off by body art. So until tattoos become the new nose piercings, there is a chance that getting inked could potentially cost you a job. Unfair? Of course it is which is why we must think twice before committing to ink. If you still want to go ahead, try getting it done on a part of your body which is easy to cover (not your neck, forearm or hand). Let OneShift know what you think. Should an employer really care if a job applicant has a tattoo? What are your experiences?

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