Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Did my tattoos cost me the job offer?

When people are applying for work, especially in a conservative workplace, they may be concerned that their permanent body art--tattoos, piercings--may keep them from getting a job offer. This is especially painful (hah!) when the person got permanent body art that no longer expresses who they are--the new conservatism is a better fit. But do tattoos and piercing really keep someone from getting a job offer?

Body of Work (will need a free sign on to access the article), an article from Workforce Management, looks at tattooing and piercing in the workplace, including the following issues:
  • do companies include body art in their dress code?
  • do professionals feel that they have not gotten a job because of their body art, or
  • have they covered up their body art during the interview process?
I can't speak for all libraries, but most of the ones that I know of are not conservative, and I have seen staff with permanent body mods, but I wonder if any prospective librarian applicant feels they didn't get a job because the person doing the hiring could not see a person with a tattoo sleeve delivering story time? There does seem to be a definite vibe in this article that if you work with the public, that body modifications are not acceptable--though I wonder if they feel the same about breast implants?

In hard to find positions it is more difficult to restrict or discriminate against body art, though not everyone wants to join the military or become a doctor. And many people, including bosses and HR personnel, have body art themselves:

According to a 2010 Pew Research Center study, 12 percent of the 18- to 29-year-olds surveyed have at least one tattoo and 26 percent sport two or more. About 7 percent have six or more tattoos. Generation X is fond of body ink, too. About one-third of those between 30 and 45 said they have at least one tattoo. Only 15 percent of baby boomers between 46 and 64 have one.

With the large number of Boomers, that 15% is a significant percentage, which may even indicate that more Boomers than Ys, definitely than Xs, have tattoos. So the mature professional who is interviewing you whose shirt is crinkling with starch, may have several tattoos up his sleeve.

The article also suggests that there is more acceptance for tattoos if they are tasteful (which can cover a broad range of tacky to tasty and is very much in the eye of the beholder) and do not include any profanity or desecration of religious symbols. If your tattoos fall into those categories, I don't think the tattoo or the piercing is keeping you from employment.

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