You could have Mickey Mouse tattooed somewhere on your body and Disney STILL wouldn’t hire you. Its company policy prohibits hiring people with visible tattoos. Or people with green hair.
You have an interview for your dream job.
You dress immaculately and make sure your hair is a) washed and b) neat. Your interview goes smoothly – you’re sure the job is yours. You turn to walk out of the room and hear a gasp from your (supposed) new employer.
You realise that you’ve exposed the back of your neck and, with it, your massive ‘I Heart Metallica’ tattoo. The one that you’ve had since you were 18 and stupid. The one that you forgot to cover. Interview failed.
You should have an inkling of how your tattoo(s) will affect the job search. Interviews are largely about how you’re perceived by your interviewer and – depending on a number of factors – a visible tattoo could affect the way you’re perceived.
Society (for the most part) is more accepting of tattoos than it once was. It’s possible that the stigma associated with them will fade entirely. But for now it’s a good idea to play it safe and go into an interview assuming that they may be viewed negatively.
Of course, the stigma is relative to the industry. Looking into graphic design? Probably not a problem. Law? Big problem. Disney? Don’t even bother.
The word stigma itself means ‘tattoo’. It originates from Greek stigmatos meaning ‘mark or puncture, especially one made by a pointed instrument’.
Ask your parents what they think of tattoos. A standard reply: “They’re for Hell’s Angels, gangsters and slappers.” This is because, historically, tattoos have been linked to, well, Hell’s Angels, gangsters and slappers.
In the late 1900s people with tattoos were carnival ‘freaks’ and between 1950 and 1960 they could be found on outlaws, bikers and the mentally ill.
If you had a tattoo between 1960 and 2000, people would’ve assumed your living arrangements consisted of metal bars and soap-less showers.
But since then, tattoos have increased in popularity – more than 45 million Americans have at least one. And in Europe, they’re everywhere.
Even if society is changing, your interviewer/potential employer may still have a negative attitude toward tattoos. And if they don’t, company dress policy will dictate how much they will or won’t accept. While this can be infuriating, it can be warranted.
If, for example, you’re applying for a job in a top corporate law firm, company policy will dictate that your tattoos be covered. You’ll meet with clients or customers from all walks of life – some of them may see your tattoo and wonder where your AK-47 is.
The best advice concerning your tattoos (regardless of where you plan to work) is to cover them up as best you can – at least until you’ve seen how the land lies.
• Wear long sleeve shirts to cover up a sleeve tattoo
• Wear closed shoes to cover up ankle/foot ink.
• A scarf will cover a neck tattoo if you can’t/don’t want to wear hair loose.
• If your tattoo can’t be covered with clothing, you can buy make-up designed to conceal them (Dermablend and Tattoo Camo are two good options.)
• As a (very, very, very) last resort you might consider laser removal, but we at envisionme.co.za don’t recommend working for companies that dictatorial.