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Should having tattoos affect my job prospects

should having tattoos affect your job prospects

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As a teenager I was repeatedly told that if I ever chose to get a tattoo I’d never get a job. I’d never showed any interest in getting a tattoo – I’m terrified of needles – still, it was a warning my family wanted to give me regardless: get a tattoo, become a deadbeat.

Of course, I now know that this isn’t true and I know a lot of good people who also happen to have tattoos, in fact 1 in 5 British people have a tattoo, but do tattoos still evoke such a weird mixture of worry and doom in my elders like it used to?

Well, unfortunately yes!

According to a recent study by researchers at the University of St Andrew’s, the stigma is still very much intact at least within professional circles. The study goes on to warn people against getting tattoos as many managers and those in charge of hiring still assume people with them are ‘druggies and thugs’.

Dr Andrew Timming, a management expert and leader of this research, has explained that whilst he personally has no problem with tattoos many hirers do, ‘Most respondents agreed that visible tattoos are a stigma.

‘Hiring managers realise that, ultimately, it does not matter what they think of tattoos – what really matters, instead, is how customers might perceive employees with visible tattoos.’

Dr Timming interviewed 14 organisations including hotels, banks, councils, universities, prisons and booksellers to get a varying range of opinions and perspectives on tattoos.

A male manager that partook in the study said that seeing body art would ‘subconsciously stop’ him from hiring an individual. Another stated that ‘tattoos are the first thing they [fellow recruiters] talk about when the person has gone out of the door.’ Meanwhile, a female manager suggested that ‘they make a person look dirty’.

Dr Timming advised that ‘Respondents expressed concern that visibly tattooed workers may be perceived by customers to be abhorrent, repugnant, unsavoury and untidy.

‘It was surmised that customers might project a negative service experience based on stereotypes that tattooed people are thugs and druggies.’

Do Tattoos spoil your proffessional image?

Should having tattoos affect my job prospectsThis study is particularly relevant at this time as the BBC reported recently that Metropolitan Police have banned their staff from getting tattoos that may be visible whilst they work. Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe said this decision was made as tats ‘damage the professional image’ of his police officers.

Fortunately though, not every single employer agrees with the stigma. Timming said ‘the one qualification to this argument is there are certain industries in which tattoos may be a desirable characteristic in a job interview.

‘For example, an HR manager at a prison noted that tattoos on guards can be ‘something to talk about’ and ‘an in’ that you need to make a connection with the prisoners.’

He also pointed out that it is inevitable that managers will be faced with applicants with tattoos, and suggests that the problem is in fact what the tattoos are of and where they are placed.

Are Celeb’s to blame for the increase in Tattoos?

Many are blaming the rise of tattoos on the fact they are extremely popular amongst celebrities these days. Take David Beckham for example, his tattoos are actually considered an advantage by many. Dr Timming explains, ‘If you look at David Beckham and his recent advertising campaigns for H&M for example, they are an asset for him, they decorate his body and have become part of his image.’

Does it really matter?

So, why are there so many conflicting ideas and opinions about what individuals do with their own bodies? Does employment really have the right to dictate what a person can have on his or her own skin? Are employers simply aiming to dehumanise their employees to make their business run more smoothly without offending the precious customers eyes?

In my opinion, tattoos seem like a trivial piece of criteria on which to base someone’s ability to do a job well. Of course, there are exceptions, for example if you have a spider cobweb tattooed on you face then yes people will think you’re a bit odd but most tattoos are harmless forms of self expression. I also refuse to believe that consumers these days have such backwards priorities that they’d refuse to shop somewhere just because someone has a tattoo.

What’s your view?

Tattoos are becoming a very hot topic, and so we’d like your opinions on tattoos. Do you agree or disagree with this studies’ findings? Are tattoos a visually traumatic insult to the eyes or innocent body art?



About Siobhan Harmer

About Siobhan Harmer

Siobhan Harmer is an English Freelance writer who drinks far too much coffee!!

Website: Siobhan Harmer

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