There are three things people who have or are thinking of getting a tattoo should know with respect to finding a job:
You can definitely get discriminated against during the hiring process if your tattoos are showing.
Employers are completely within their legal rights to skip hiring you if you have them.
Many corporations have policies against visible tattoos and body piercings (other than earrings on women). Especially when employees are going to be working with clients.
But what do hiring managers really think of tattoos on candidates?
I asked a few hiring managers to share the real reasons why they choose not to hire people with tattoos. In exchange for keeping them anonymous, they opened up about the perception of tattoos in their corporate environments. Here are some of the responses I got:
"They show the person is impulsive."
"It's a sign of someone who is defiant and a rebel."
"To do something so permanent shows a lack of forethought and consequences."
"They are free to have a tattoo, but I shouldn't be forced to look at it."
"The person is most likely a heavy partier and may be an attendance issue."
"They make people look less educated."
What can you do to get you (and your tattoo) hired?
When I asked these same hiring managers what a candidate with a visible tattoo could do to overcome this discrimination during an interview, here's what they said:
Be willing to conceal it. Offer to wear make-up or clothing to hide the tattoo.
Clean up your look. Wear your hair in a clean-cut fashion, select conservative clothing, and do your best to minimize the rebel image that goes with your tattoo.
Be honest and accountable. Explain why you got the tattoo and what you've learned about its impact on your ability to get hired.
Prove you're worth overlooking the tattoo. If you can show them you can alleviate a major pain, or solve an expensive problem better than the other candidates, they will consider hiring you. As one hiring manager said,
"While I don't like tattoos, I do need the best talent. I'm not going to pass up hiring someone who can save or make the company money because of their ink."
Lastly, Consider These Alternatives...
If you have a tattoo and hate the idea of corporate America discriminating against you for it, consider:
A) Finding an industry or job that appreciates body art. Get into a line of work where tattoos are admired, not shunned.
B) Become your own boss. You can wear your tattoo proudly if you are in charge. Set yourself up as an independent contractor and get on the path to business ownership so you don't have to worry about interviews and the discrimination that goes with it.
Remember, while we live in a free country that allows you to have your tattoo, employers don't have to respect your choice. Determining a strategy for having a tattoo and a job is definitely worth doing. (For more information, check out this article by a recruiter on why tattoos are still taboo).
P.S. - First time reading my posts? Nice to meet you! Here are a few others I've written here on AOL that may help you:
18 Things to Bring on a Job Interview
Office Politics: How to Befriend the Enemy After a Heated Battle
4 Things to Keep Off Your Resume