Tattoo trend jeopardizes job opportunities

By Dalton Carver
Staff reporter

Your favorite bands are covered with them and your favorite athletes point to them when they grab victory from their opponents. They’re black, they’re white and they’re colorful. They’re frightening and they’re beautiful. They make you grimace with pain and they scare your grandmother half to death. They’re considered harmful to job searches and may earn you the disregarding looks of others. Tattoos have been around forever, but will a surge in popularity see society become more accepting of them? Do tattoos express individuality or do they prevent individuals from scoring that dream job?

According to a survey done by the Pew Research Center in 2013, 14 percent of people in the United States have at least one tattoo. Although this may seem like a small percentage, that is more than 45 million people. In addition, the U.S. manages to spend an average of $1.65 billion on tattoos every year. Despite this amount of revenue, 40 percent of America still believes that tattoos are a feature that makes society worse.

Fortunately for the tattooed, a combined 47 percent of society were indifferent about tattooed individuals or thought it changed culture for the better. According to a Forbes article, even corporate, educational, and medical industries are becoming more accepting of tattooed employees.

Another element pushing the tattooed-and-employed numbers is the economy, according to an NBCnews.com story. Over 14.5 million citizens are jobless. Refusing a tattooed job candidate could reduce the pool of applicants itself. The article continues by quoting Sue Murphy, the association manager for the National Human Resources administration. “Tattoo-friendliness often depends on the position, employer and industry the worker is in,” she said. However, how can an employer refuse an experienced and skilled tattooed candidate over an applicant that has fewer credentials, but no tattoos?

Despite this growing number of white-collar, tattooed employees, 31 percent of employers mentioned “having a visible tattoo” as an attribute that could cost you earning a job, according to 2011 CareerBuilder study.

There is a limit. If the tattoos depict violence, nudity or vulgar language, they should at least be covered up during work. This isn’t as much a matter of being tattooed as a matter of respect for the company you represent and the customers you serve. Displaying these kinds of body artwork during a job interview probably won’t land you the job.

The act of hiring someone should be based upon their skills, credentials and experience, not what the individual looks like. We live in a day and age of being too easily offended, but we should be more accepting of how someone wants to express themselves, especially if their expertise is up-to-par in their respective industry.

Interviewers don’t contemplate race or gender when it comes to interviewing job applicants. There isn’t a checkbox for “Tattooed?” on applications or resumes. Some limits exist and should be enforced, but in general, individuals who decide to express themselves through tattoos should get just as much opportunity as everyone else.

Dalton Carver is a junior majoring in communication and the online editor for Update SC. You can email him at dalton.carver@sckans.edu or tweet him @Dalty_James. 

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