Should tattoos make you less employable?

Or do tattoos actually indicate positive traits?
Profile picture of Polya

Created by Polya

Published on Jul 12, 2021
woman with tattoos

Tattoos are a controversial topic among generations of people and the opinions about them vary – from totally negative to completely positive. But I expect this isn’t news to anyone. 

As an inked person, the idea that I may not be employable because I choose to have something on my skin is very concerning. This is a shout out to all employers out there – tattoos do not define your staff. What defines them are their skills and competence in the sphere.

During my bachelors, I had this professor who has two sleeves (a tattoo design covering your whole arm). He rode a motorbike and looked so insanely cool. Surprisingly, this person happened to teach literature. He taught about the empathy literature could invoke - he shared with us, his students, that he cried at Bridget Jones’s diaries. He is a prime example that having a tattoo, or two, or more does not define you as a person.

Yes, I fit into this category myself. I have two tattoos, and I plan on getting more. Coming from a rather conservative family, I often hear “You will not be able to find a job” and similar disapproving remarks. 

Moving away from my home country, I realised that tattoos are a way to express yourself, they have a meaning, they are art, and they are just simply awesome. However, I am not here to say, “go get a tattoo immediately because otherwise you are not going to be one of the cool kids”,  but rather the opposite. 

I believe getting a tattoo is a personal choice and before getting one, one has to do the research to find a good artist, a good image and spot on the body that they are comfortable with, and this takes time. Before getting my first tattoo, it took me two years to decide on a specific design and a spot where I wanted to get it. But this was not my biggest fear. My biggest fear was actually being fed up with the image after a year or two. Then I told myself, “You know what, you will get something small, in a barely visible place, so whatever happens you will be the only person who knows about it.” - and that’s exactly what I did. 

Almost three years ago I got my first tattoo, and I am still more than happy with every single choice I made. And I say this to every person who asks me “What if I do not like this thing anymore?”. Then my answer is always the same “This is highly unlikely because you did it in a stage of your life in which you thought this was meaningful, you wanted it and you liked it”. Of course,  there is always the possibility of not liking it anymore after several years, but I have rarely met people who do not want their tattoos anymore. Most people who have tattoos are rather optimistic and perceive them as part of their own personalities. Thinking about personalities, I could not be happier with my tattoos. Even though I would probably not choose to do them again with my current thinking, they are part of me now.

There is another thing with regards to job opportunities I always have in mind. Hiring a person with tattoos does not mean anything bad. Honestly, some of the best people I’ve ever met have bodies that are totally inked, and they are the sweetest human beings. If anything, hiring a person with tattoos means that this person has the patience to sit under the needle for as long as it takes to get the thing done. This not only exemplifies patience, but also dedication and the willingness to endure some pain in the name of something great. 

So my advice: before judging a person who has some ink on their body, just make the effort to get to know them first because behind every book cover, there is so much more to learn than just what the eyes can see.

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