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Tattoos for Today’s Professional Man

Posted by ilan srulovicz on

Many people have questions about tattoos for today’s professional man.  Tattoos have a long history, from being gawked at in turn-of-the-century sideshows, to marking the enlisted men, to being associated with felons and an unwanted element, to adorning the skin of nearly 30% of people. Particularly in the younger, Millennial generation, tattoos have come to be much more accepted, and visible tattoos may be perfectly fine in the coming years. However, currently they do present something of a barrier, particularly for those in more conservative fields.

In some countries, a company is legally allowed to ban employees with visible tattoos, or refuse to hire them on that basis alone. Keep that in mind, should you decide you want a tattoo.

Generally speaking, the best tattoo for the business professional man is no tattoo. It’s a risky move if you intend to go into a conservative field such as finance or medicine; between 30-42% of hiring executives say they would not hire someone with visible tattoos. Certainly if your tattoo depicts anything distasteful or offensive, you can kiss your job chances goodbye.

However, if you’re determined to get a tattoo regardless, keep in mind places that can be covered easily. That means keeping the art off your face, neck, hands and even forearms and feet, particularly for women. Even in companies that are more lenient with their tattoo policy, written or not, they tend to frown upon anything vulgar that might give people the wrong idea about their business in general.

Many e-petitions have been signed, and people have lobbied to end tattoo-based discrimination. Currently, no progress has been made, but in the future, who’s to say. The current generation is a lot more accepting of body art than their predecessors, and with tattoos becoming part of the mainstream, perhaps we will see a paradigm shift. Until then, best to keep things under covers.

When deciding whether or not to get a tattoo, keep in mind also what field you work in. If you work in a creative profession, it may be no problem at all to have sleeve tattoos. If you can, scope out your potential employer before your interview; drop by for a visit if it’s a public place such as a restaurant, or look up the employees on LinkedIn. That should give you an idea of how that particularly company feels about tattoos, if there is no written tattoo policy that you can find.

Ultimately, it is your body, and you can do whatever you want with it. Just remember that removing a tattoo is extraordinarily expensive, and if that art comes between you and food, shelter, or sustainability, it’s probably not a good idea.

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