In the professional sphere, having a tattoo is still considered a negative thing. I have no idea why that is. Tattoos are a creative expression of an individual’s story that is placed upon their skin in an art like form, they are not in any way an indication that that person is affiliated with any gang or have any negative personality traits that will interfere with their professional capabilities and by no means does it mean that they cannot perform a certain job. So why is it still considered taboo to come into a job interview with your tattoos showing?
Years and years ago, tattoos were thought to be connected to criminal behavior and gang affiliations. It is no longer the case and hasn’t been the case for a very long time. I, for example, have six tattoos and am the farthest thing from a criminal you can get. Each of my tattoos is there for a reason; whether it be to commemorate a person who means a lot to me, remind me of an experience I once had, or simply an anecdote or word that is a daily affirmation that is permanently written on my skin – they are all there for a reason.
When I moved to New York City a few years ago and needed assistance in finding a job as I was new to the city, I went to head hunting firms for help. When I was interviewed at these firms (I went to three), they each asked me without fail to go to my interviews with long sleeves so as to make sure that the possible employer wouldn’t see my wrist tattoo (the only conspicuous one I have at the moment). Now, to clarify, my wrist tattoo is four letters and is black and white. It is not a large tattoo in any way, shape or form but nonetheless considered an offense.
Coming back into focus on the matter at hand, tattoos and the issue they present in the corporate world, I know I cannot change any perceptions single-handedly, but it is important that those who are hiring in any industry, for any job, know that if an individual with tattoos comes in for an interview, even if he or she has an entire sleeve of tattoos, it doesn’t mean you should write them off right then and there. If anything, you should think of them as a more sensitive and creative individual of literally wears his or her heart on their sleeve.
The day to day ‘uniform’ of the corporate world is usually a suite for the men and a blouse and skirt or pants for women. While appropriate attire is indeed an important part of the working environment, as is appropriate behavior in the workplace, what a person decides to put on their skin is something entirely separate from clothing and behavior, it is their personal and private decision and does not mean they cannot be as professional as a man or woman without a single tattoo on them.
In today’s world, which is constantly evolving into a more fast-paced, digital and creative one, it is time that the powers that be who are in the business of hiring new individuals for their companies look through tattoos and not at tattoos, remaining professional themselves and remembering that there is a person ‘underneath’ the tattoos, a person who is capable, hard-working, professional and can offer their company what they are looking for; just with a little more zest in their appearance.