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Job Hunting For The Tattooed Professional

Job Hunting For The Tattooed Professional

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I love my tattoos and I cannot imagine being without them. If something was to happen to me such as a car accident and my tattoos were ruined I would be severely depressed. The booming business of tattoo removal makes me a bit sick and stresses the importance of thinking long term, considering everything you may have to sacrifice and knowing the stereotyped remarks and opinions you will probably receive because of your tattoo(s). Is it worth it?

sierranighttide tattooIt took me almost ten years to get my first tattoo. It wasn't that I was fearful of the needle, I was scared but that's not why I waited so long. I waited because the art I wanted and the tattoo artists I met never clicked with me. It just didn't feel right. I believe I may have talked and visited over a hundred studios and artists before it felt right.

I’ve talked to many teenagers who said they planned on getting a tattoo the moment they turned 18. I jumped at the chance to tell them not to. I tell them they need to think about everything in life before they got the tattoo. One of the biggest obstacles of landing a quality high paying career opportunity is having a tattoo.

What about work?

  • If you get a tattoo on your arm or your leg chances are you will always have to keep it covered in a corporate environment. 
  • Are you willing to accept that you will lose job opportunities because you have a tattoo regardless if you cover it or not?

 Some hiring managers don't want to hire a person with a tattoo whether it is covered or not - are you willing to make that sacrifice?

  • Will you love that tattoo when you are 21, 30, 40 and when your 60 years old?

You may not believe you'll live to be that old but what if you do live to be that old? Will you still love it than? Will you proudly show it to your potentially disapproving parents / relatives. How about your kids or your grandkids? More importantly, will you proudly show it to all of your boyfriends / girlfriends of the future? Yes there will be more than one or two prior to getting married.

  • What does the tattoo mean to you?

Are you getting it because you feel you absolutely have to in order to feel complete or are you getting it because it's popular or because you'll look a certain way? Those are the regretful at 30 reasons of getting a tattoo.

A tattoo may look cool and project a certain rebel “Scr%! The man!” look but the pain involved in removing a tattoo is much more intense than getting one. The process is painful, time-consuming and costs more than three times the amount of getting the tattoo. A lower back tattoo that cost approximately a hundred fifty to two hundred dollars can cost over two thousands dollars to remove and there is no guarantee that there will not be a scar from the removal.

Tattoos have become hip and are glamorized. Advertising agencies for clothing stores use models that have tattoos. Athletes and celebrities have tattoos right along with the latest and greatest musicians. There's a lot of youngster peer pressure and some people just go out and get a tattoo impulsively. Would you marry someone you’ve only known for one day?

Dermatologists says that the most popular tattoos to be removed are the names of old boyfriends / girlfriends, former spouses and gang related tattoos. In addition, doctors cannot always guarantee that laser treatments will remove certain ink colors or remove tattoos from some skin colors. Hence all the warnings of ‘think before ink’ slogans.

On the other hand, a New York company called Freedom-2 Inc. plans to release its only product, a new kind of tattoo ink with pigments designed for easy laser removal. All of the biodegradable colors are in tiny capsules designed to react to a single wavelength of light, meaning that the ink could be dissolved in a single laser treatment. Is this a solution to impulse tattooing? Than again, if your not sure you want the tattoo forever, why would you get it in the first place?

So with easier to remove ink, will impulse tattoos still be all the rage? Tattoo outlaw culture has gone mainstream where skin art is shared by rock stars, Wall Street professionals and soccer moms. Tattoos have become just anther type of body decoration – such as dyeing your hair or painting your fingernails. People now think of their tattoos as a tasteful expression of their identity.

Despite their growing popularity, tattoos still carry a stigma that can lead to discrimination in the workplace. Everyone with a tattoo has at one position or anther been labeled as trashy, a gangster, a party girl (anther way of saying slut), a person not to be taken seriously and someone who is not professional. Before anyone at any age gets a tattoo, you need to think long and hard on what you want for a permanent tattoo and where on your body it will be placed because there will be people who will discriminate against you.

Discrimination laws cover specific classes of people, such as race, sex, age, weight and religion. Tattoo artwork is not (currently) covered by any discrimination law in any state in the US. This means an employer can legally not hire you based on tattoos and can fire you after hiring you knowing you have tattoos.

Than again, some companies have not only accepted tattoos as a personal body decoration but have embraced it. Hoping their employees with tattoos project a hipper, more colorful atmosphere that enhance the company image such as artistic or as an innovative community environment.

Things to consider before getting a tattoo

Be prepared

My tattoos are very close to my heart -- when someone questions my tattoos, tells me it was a bad decision or when someone tells me I am something negative because I have them it is as if they told me that a part of my has become deformed because of my choice. Plan to be offended but proud of your decorated body. If you cannot be proud or if you cannot walk away from being offended without becoming offensive yourself do not get one.


Depending on where a tattoo is placed and what the tattoo is you may lose several job and career opportunities. Some employers could care less if your tattoo is a flower or a dragon ridden by death – are you willing to sacrifice career opportunities because you have a tattoo?

The Future

Will the tattoo image be as important to you forty years in the future as it is right now? For instance, never get a tattoo in celebration of a love interest, I’ve always said that having a love interests name tattooed is a curse. I’ve been proven right way too often.


Why do you want to get a tattoo? Before I got my first two tattoos (a matching set) I felt ordinary and plain. I know that was nothing more than my negative perspective but nothing I did made me feel special or unique. I’ve never regretted my decision. However are considering tattoo because someone else wants you to? Is it to fit in with a certain crowd or possibly because a love interest thinks it would be cool to have their name on your body – much like personal property. Make sure that you are getting a tattoo for the right reasons.

What Does It Mean To You?

How well have you researched a tattoo? All of my tattoos have no less than two month’s worth of research. If a specific image has meaning for you, it doesn't matter what others think about your selection. This is a form of self-expressionism that you should want to display proudly for the next fifty years.

Try Before You Buy

Try wearing a temporary tattoo prior to getting a permanent one. Find an airbrush artist or a henna artist who can place your desired image on the spot your considering to experience how life could change with a tattoo. The temporary tattoo wont last that long so you will need to have it redone at least three times. However, you will get to experience the first reaction from strangers and from people you know, some of which may be more blatant and offensive comments than strangers.


Will getting a tattoo conflict with your religious beliefs? If you are part of a religious group and your religious leaders are important to you – how will you feel if they condemn you for getting a tattoo?

If you already have a tattoo and have experienced the legal discrimination of tattoo objection than you need to come up with a new job-hunting career plan. If you want to work in an environment where they are acceptable, there's no better time to test the waters than the first interview. In contrast, prior to the first interview ask questions without creating an image of aggression.

But I already have a tattoo!

In conducting research for this article I spoke to many tattooed professionals. Every single one I talked to said pretty much the same thing if even stated differently. If you are tattooed, you must find the employers who openly accept (inoffensive) tattoos. If you must hide your tattoos than understand that is a sacrifice you must be willing to accept prior to accepting the job offer. No matter how professional you are and no matter how experienced and skilled you are if an employer does not like tattoos you cannot change his or her mind and you shouldn’t have to. But, if you believe you can change an interviewer's aversion than keep in mind that the first impression is the most important. Show the interviewer you are a professional to be taken seriously. Be honest, build a solid resume with top quality skills and ask questions. 

One of the first questions you may want to ask in an email or phone interview is “what is the company’s definition of an ideal employee?” The answer can provide you with a wheel barrel of information. You may decide to discontinue pursuing the opportunity or you can use the information to your advantage.

In a 'in person' interview -- After an interviewer obviously notices your tattoos make a statement such as “I see you’ve discovered my artwork, my previous employer and resume will vouch that I’m just as bright and professional as my tattoos.”

The time is coming when employers who indulge in prejudices about such things will handicap themselves into extinction. But that time isn't here yet. Today's corporate reality is that tattoos will make it harder to find a job, especially a corporate office position. Are you willing to wear long sleeves and pants every day to work? Only you can decide if that's an acceptable trade off. If not, your job search will be harder but not impossible.



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