Ink at Inc. - Tattoos at Work

As an experienced career professional, I find that while we live in a day and age where self expression is encouraged, it does not necessarily translate well into the corporate world when we try to merge our personal “self” with our professional lives.  This is particularly true for those of us with body art, or tattoos. 

Prior to the 1980s, tattooing was mainly thought to be something done by military members or social deviants.  However, recent surveys indicate that more than 36 percent of Americans have at least one tattoo, leading society to the conclusion that the trend of body art is becoming more socially acceptable.  But is it professionally acceptable?  Yes and No. 

Along with the increasing numbers of individuals donning body art across the country, so too are amount of the corporate policies designed to police the display of body art.  Is this legal?  Well, it is a fine line that companies must walk.  While employers cannot discriminate against people that have tattoos, much like they can’t discriminate on the basis of race, `religion, gender, etc; they can determine that an individual may, or may not, be qualified for a position based on skills, qualifications, fit into the company culture, as well as how they represent the company. 

As a recruiting and human resources professional, as well as an individual with two tattoos, I can tell you that I have worked for and recruited for companies with such policies.  The purpose of a tattoo policy is not to hinder an employee from expressing themselves or their personality.  What employees and job seekers often fail to understand is that the company is not trying to restrict them from having body art; they could care less if an employee has a tattoo, they simply don’t want to see it.  What we must realize is that this decision has nothing to do with us at all. At the end of the day, an employee has to represent the company in both skill and professionalism, and a main component to professionalism is looking the part.

Additionally, tattoo policies are often created to prevent employee unrest or hostile work environments because they remove the opportunity for someone to be offended, or conflict created, because of the image or tattoo chosen by another employee.  

So what do people who have tattoos, such as me, do if they want to maintain a professional presence?  Cover it!  In my case, my most visible tattoo is on my ankle, so I usually wear business slacks or shoes that will cover the tattoo.  If you are considering a tattoo, I would recommend finding a place on your body that can be easily covered.  This is no different than the other advice I often recommend to students, whether it is with their resume or dressing for an interview; put your best foot forward and represent the company as professionally as possible, letting your personality shine through in other ways rather than displaying your body art. 

External links provided on Rasmussen.edu are for reference only. Rasmussen College does not guarantee, approve, control, or specifically endorse the information or products available on websites linked to, and is not endorsed by website owners, authors and/or organizations referenced.

Melissa Wagner is a Career Services Advisor for Rasmussen College. Her role includes assisting Rasmussen College Online students with career-related questions, career placement services, and job preparation tips. Melissa can be reached at Melissa.Wagner@Rasmussen.edu.

comments powered by Disqus
Share Your Story Ideas
Our campuses and online community have stories to tell and we want to hear them! Did your campus raise the most money in the community for an organization? Do you have online study tips for other students? Would you like to share a personal success story about overcoming an obstacle while earning your degree?
To have your story idea considered:
  • You must be a faculty member, current student or graduate
  • Story ideas must be regarding Rasmussen College or an inspiring story about a student at Rasmussen College
  • Your submission must be original and may not have been published elsewhere online already
Please Note: Your story idea may be featured on the Rasmussen College News Beat or on one of our social networks. A member of our news team will contact you should we move forward with a blog post.
Feel free to suggest an idea for a blog post to be featured on the Rasmussen College News Beat by filling out the form below:

First Name: (required)

Last Name: (required)

Email Address: (required)

Phone Number: (required)

500 characters or less

close

Your Story Idea Has Been Submitted

Thank you for sending us a story idea! We’re reviewing submissions and may contact you soon to learn more about your story. In the meantime, make sure to check out our current blogs to see what’s happening on campus.

close