Tattoos in the workplace – taboo or celebrating individuality?

Picture the scenario – fresh from graduating, with all the right grades, credentials and a personality to match you turn up for your dream job interview with tattoos as individual as you are.

Are your ink-ings the first thing your prospective new boss will see, and how does that impact on your chances of landing the role?

Despite the rise in popularity of tattoos in recent years, there are still many employers who consider them unacceptable in the workplace.

By the same token, there are others who embrace individuality, creativity and see body art as little different to piercings, out-of-the-ordinary hair colour or wearing shorts to the office in hot weather – something of a head turner perhaps, but no big deal.

Karen Dykes, recruitment partner at Peterborough-based Anne Corder Recruitment said:

“Tattoos in the workplace are often mentioned to us by candidates who may have concerns about how their appearance will be perceived at an interview, and also by employers who are unsure about how hiring someone with tattoos will impact on their company image.”
According to a survey by YouGov, around a third (30 per cent) of UK adults aged between 25-39 have tattoos.

Karen added: “Considering that body art has become increasingly more popular over the last few years, it is likely that this percentage will rise, especially within the younger generations of workers.

“Interestingly, just recently Air New Zealand announced an end to a ban on staff having tattoos. The airline has said that from 1 September, all employees will be able to display “non-offensive” tattoos at work.

“Tattoos are a personal choice of expression, and it seems will continue to cause controversy – think back to England footballers Raheem Stirling’s assault rifle tattoo last summer, which he explained as a tribute to his late father who was a subject of gun crime.

Image bias will continue to be talking point; but could some employers may be missing out on the best candidates?

A survey conducted by LinkedIn (May 2018) found that 88 per cent of recruiters and HR professionals considered that tattoos limited a candidate’s career prospects, while three quarters said a person’s image played a significant part in the hiring process.

Four in 10 admitted that they had rejected a candidate with suitable experience because they had a visible tattoo. Around two-fifths said they had rejected a tattooed candidate because of strict employer dress codes.

Karen said: “As with most things to do with personal appearance, opinion will be divided. Quite simply, it is all about looking for the best match in terms of employer and employee – regardless of tattoos, body piercing and bright pink hair.”

Author: Editorial Team

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