Tattoos Can Still Leave a Mark on Job Opportunities

No longer are tattoos associated with burly men glowering from atop their Harley Davidson’s. An art form once seen as taboo, tattoos are now far more common in society, starting with sixteen year olds and working their way through age bracket. 

The millennial generation who grew up seeing tattoos as scary and looked down upon, now get them etched into their skin with confidence. According to the Wall Street Journal, the number of young adults who say they, or someone in their home, has a tattoo has increased from 21 percent in 1999, to 40 percent today. 

In an age when everything is expressed to the world, via Facebook status, Snapchat post, or Instagram photo, tattoos are another way for young adults to express themselves to the world. While the young adults of America have become more tattoo friendly, the employers are still not the biggest fans of the body art.

“Regardless of whether you like them or not, does a visible tattoo influence your opinion of the person wearing it? Sure it does. It’s why we wear a suit, shine our shoe and spend extra time on our hair for a job interview. Our appearance in the workplace says a lot. And tattoos can say much more.” 

Frank Bocchino, a digital marketing consultant, summed up the stigma against tattoos in the workplace perfectly. There has always been a trend of employers skipping through the application of the tattooed individual. As more and more people get tattoos, they also find ways to hide them from the employer. Easily concealable tattoos have become the trend among teens and young adults. 

Danielle Romanowski, a sophomore business marketing major, admits that placement of her tattoo was important. “I can cover it with my watch or long sleeves,” she points out, admiring the “love” tattoo scrawled across her wrist. “I thought about [being able to hide it] but it wasn’t a major factor,” she concluded. The irony of tattoos being a form of expression, but society making us feel like we have to hide that expression, is a weight on the shoulders of many young adults. Most of these tattoos express something personal to the person, a value they possess, an experience they’ve conquered, or a goal they’ve met. 

Macie Fisher, a junior health studies major, got the words “You have to believe” tattooed on her ribcage. “It was a goal for myself to get [the tattoo] after I lost my goal weight,” she explained. “Once I did, it’s my motivation for me to lose more.” While tattoos can be a form of inspiration, they can also pay memorial to a loved one. 

Natorye Miller, a sophomore communication major, also has a tattoo on her rib cage. “I have a life line with a heart in between and my grandfather’s name, along with the nickname I called him when I was younger,” she detailed. “I got it because he was a very special man to me, and I always told myself my first tattoo would be one that hits close to home.” With a smile, Miller adds that “Every time I look at it, it reminds me of him.” 

While tattoos have become a freeing form of expression, the suited employers in charge of the 9-5 jobs are still not really in favor of them. William Hill, the Assistant Dean of Career Services, said, “While I agree that tattoos are more common than ever, most of the workforce, especially the professional sector, has been slow to accept them into mainstream corporate America. This may change over time but for now it remains.”

 “My advice to students is usually ‘If you are set on getting a tattoo, get it in a place where it can be covered by clothing your would wear in an office setting’,” Hill added.

Alex Gilvarry, an artist in residence in the English department, agrees. “There’s still a stigma,” Gilvarry points out. “It depends on the industry. Chefs have entire sleeves of tattoos, but you still don’t see that at Wall Street.” Gilvarry’s tattoo, a Beatles quote on his upper arm, has never given him trouble in the workforce. The key is to get it somewhere easy to hide. But, Gilvarry points out that there is a difference in perception of the tattoos. A company may think nothing of hiring someone with a flower tattoo, but would never hire the man with the flaming dragon on his arm. 

Even though society’s view of tattoos has changed into a more accepting one, the workforce is taking it’s time to catch up. As long as college students are getting their tattoos somewhere coverable, they shouldn’t have trouble landing the job.