September 8th, 2008

New Hires Should Think Twice Before Getting a Tattoo

by Jacqueline Whitmore

If you’re job hunting, be sure to cover up your tattoos. “For baby boomers, tattoos represent an association with criminals and sailors, and it just doesn’t relay a professional message,” says Gretchen Neels, president of Neels & Co., a skills training firm.

About 40 percent of Americans ages 26 to 40 have a tattoo, according to the Pew Research Center. Personally, I am not against tattoos as long as they are in good taste. Besides, my husband sports a small Ironman symbol on the upper part of his back, between his shoulder blades.

If you work in a “creative career,” like entertainment, it most likely isn’t an issue. But in more traditional job environments, inking up still carries a negative connotation. Regardless of your qualities and abilities, people still make judgements based on appearance. Christus Finley, 31, a new home sales consultant, says she’s gotten stares because of her tattoo of a sun, moon and star on her ankle. Today Finley regrets the tattoo, which she got at age 18 for $90 and is now in the process of removing. (The cost runs nearly $1,000 over five treatments.)

It may be many years before businesspeople are judged solely on their merits and not their tattoos. So until that time, just cover it up. It’s not worth getting passed over for a great job opportunity.

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