Tattoo Preventing You from Landing a Job?

You might love the tattoo of an anaconda wrapped around your arm. But employers might think otherwise, even in the casual blue jean, t-shirt clad environment of an IT campus.

Which may have something to do with why tattoo removal procedures grew by 32 percent this year, says a new study. Indeed, of those folks surveyed, 40 percent said “employment reasons” prompted the procedure.

“Like it or not, a significant number of people feel that their tattoos are preventing their advancement in a particular career or their hiring,” says Jasson Gilmore, CEO of The Patient’s Guide, which conducted the survey. “We have seen a marked increase in patients who tell us that their tattoos are affecting their professional lives, including in technology where a traditionally more casual atmosphere has predominated.”

“If we send out anyone with a visible tattoo on their face, neck or hands, I guarantee they won’t get hired,” said Craig Libis, CEO and Managing Partner at Executive Recruiting Consultants, in Fox Business News. “The client isn’t going to say, ‘We didn’t hire them because of their tattoo,’ but I’m almost positive that’s the reason. No one really wants to see a dragon coming out of your ear.”

Dr. Glenn Messina, tattoo removal specialist and owner of Messina Esthetic Medicine in Commack, N.Y., told Fox that his tattoo removal business has increased by 15 percent over the past two years. He says people that are interested in tattoo removal should realize there’s a substantial amount of cost and pain to get a tattoo removed.

The average tattoo removal entails eight to nine treatments and averages between $200 and $600 per treatment, Messina said. A large tattoo could cost $7,000.

That’s big money for the tattoo removal businesses, considering it has a large pool of potential clients. One in five U.S. adults sports a tattoo, according to a 2012 Harris Poll.

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16 Responses to “Tattoo Preventing You from Landing a Job?”

  1. Shantal

    I don’t normally comment here but this one got me. I am an artist and have been since I was very young. There seems to be some illusion that all creative people have tattoos when in fact they do not. I am secure enough in myself not to have a need to have multiple piercings or tattoos. I think it shows insecurity and a false bravado – you see the tattoos and regalia but you don’t really see the person. (I did once see a questionable job posting requesting a young artist with tattoos, but the pay was also quite low for that position.) Tattoos also illustrate a false arrogance in a sense of needing to be part of some collective group, and that type of person lacks courage.

    • Jodin

      I agree with Shantal’s comments. I’m naturally gifted at drawing and I have an artistic side to me but I’ve never felt the need to get a tattoo. There is supposed to be some sex appeal with tattoos. I’m not sure what that is about. I would much rather date someone with a great personality than someone with great tattoos. However, I’m not judgmental. I think it is kind of silly if IT companies are turning down talented candidates based on looks. I would flip this article around and ask the question “Would you want to work for a place that is so nit picky about appearances?” I’ve worked for companies that were very judgmental toward appearance and went so far as to require men to wear white cotton undershirts so that our “chest hair would not show.” Companies like this were usually crazy to work for and I see this as a red flag nowadays.

    • Who are you to say people with tattoos lack courage? You’re viewpoint on the matter is the same as most of these companies; you’re quick to judge and throw anyone with a tattoo into a collective group stating arrogance an insecurities and believe yourself to be higher than them because you don’t sport any ink? Get off your high horse. Tattoo’s are a personnel choice, no one has the right to say otherwise.

      By the way; I don’t have tattoo’s.

      • Hey, don’t kill the messenger here, guys. Like it or not, there are a lot of people out there who don’t like tattoos, and who are involved in the hiring process. Whether you want to deal with them, or how, is completely up to you.

        By the way, I don’t have tattoos either. Mostly because I’m scared of needles.

      • Shantal

        I have a right to state my opinion based upon people I know who have them. They typically place a high value on outward appearance and have overblown egos on the basis of what? They’re tattoo? A lobotomy might be more suitable.

      • Shantal

        Actually, a recent study done in 2010 showed that people with four or more tattoos have a stronger correlation with deviant behavior such as drug use, academic cheating and violence toward others. Moderation is perhaps a good policy.

  2. Shantal

    One more thing, you have all these people struggling for individuality but who really has it? With so many people joining the ‘destroy my pigment’ tribe, the person without the tattoo is going to be the one who’s really unique. Most employers want someone who fits a professional corporate culture and will potentially relate to business customers and they aren’t all in the tattoo industry.

  3. This article is a great example in how the discrimination card is being played just on a different plane. People with tattoos aren’t all ex-cons, social pariahs, or trying to fit in to some undefined crowd. Tattoos are markings of self expression. they are meant to convey how a person feels at a particular moment. For some one to state that all people with ink are trying to fit into a collective group or that they lack courage is a cowardly remark to make; by a person that has no obvious experience with the culture. In many cultures tattoos are markings of status and tell tales of life experience. Companies that require you to hide these markings are saying that it’s okay to punish people that are different by not allowing them to move up the “corporate ladder”. I think that in the 1900s it was called racism. So maybe today we are seeing tattooism.
    Instead of judging a person based off of what you think a tattoo means, maybe the employer should ask the story behind it. They may find out more information of the candidate’s character this way than from the standard questions.

  4. Mihir

    Numerous studies have concluded that attractive people get better and higher paying jobs. Do a web search for “halo effect in job interviews”. All of us have some bias or the other that causes us to judge others. It is unfortunate that this is how we are wired, however, we each have a choice to override this tendency.

    I try and not pass judgement on people because of how they look. While I don’t have any tattoos and don’t intend to have any either, I don’t believe that I have a right to judge those who do. Just because someone is of a different mindset does not make that person wrong and me right. In fact, I celebrate the fact that people think differently. The world we live in would indeed be mundane and boring if that were not the case. Now, if only we can learn to live in harmony with each other, we could end a lot of strife, conflict and needless pain and suffering.

  5. please reference this study. Facts like that are a horrible examples to give as the demographic isn’t given. So for all we know is that this “study” was based in a prison or in a poverty stricken are which is riddled with crime. In these areas deviant behavior is the norm. I work with plenty of professional types in an IT firm that have tattoos. Multiple. I have yet to experience an act of violence or been completely offended to the point of discriminating against them. I also happen to know several doctors with tattoos who don’t express deviant behavior. And let’s not forget the hundred of thousands of service members who have tattoos of their units emblem on them. Their deviant behavior saved lives and defended this country. Those thugs…. Uncle Sam should fire every last one of them since they don’t fit the corporate culture standards that these companies have set.

      • Thank you for providing the link to the study. I found the abstract interestingly loaded. I find that the study is loaded in a few ways.

        1) The study is based off of 1753 college students and only those with ink or piercings. This offers no correlation to those students who have no ink or piercings. With such a small pool of surveyed people it is hard to state that all people with 4 or more tattoos will participate or have done deviant behavior. The pool is based off of an age group (18-22) that are in a period of “discovering themselves. This is no means an excuse but the age group is prone for “deviant” behavior.

        2) The study defines deviant behavior as ” cheat on college work, binge drink, and report having had multiple sex partners”. In college…. really kids binge drinking cheating on test and having sex. That’s odd I never would have expected such behavior.was possible. But then again they are tattooed so. Again because there is no correlation to the students without tattoos this study’s point is in valid. I remember as a kid, hearing and seeing stories about college life. Drinking drugs and sex are normal for college kids. Not all of them but the ones that are having a good time. This could be referred to as “going through a phase”.

        3) The sub-culture theory, at least the theory that I think the study is using, is based from a theory for gangs and juvenile offenders.

        “In criminology, subcultural theory emerged from the work of the Chicago School on gangs and developed through the symbolic interactionism school into a set of theories arguing that certain groups or subcultures in society have values and attitudes that are conducive to crime and violence. The primary focus is on juvenile delinquency because theorists believe that if this pattern of offending can be understood and controlled, it will break the transition from teenage offender into habitual criminal.”

        Comparing college kids to gang members is not a good study, to present to a corporate group. Again with a pool so small it is hard to say that people with tattoos, a professional career and a college education are deviants. If you would like to make a legit point on how professional people are deviants please provide a study or reference that is based on an age group that isn’t being flooded with hormones.

        • Shantal

          I’m not sure its normal to drink and do drugs in college. I don’t have tattoos as you may have surmised and didn’t do drugs in college, nor have I ever cheated in college. I also noticed that my non-tattoo bearing friends didn’t partake in these activities and maintained gpas of 3.8 and higher. So there’s my self-selection bias. You might have missed that of those surveyed those with 4 or more tattoos exhibited a higher degree of the deviant behaviors mentioned. They surveyed the behaviors of American college students possessing tattoos and piercings which I hardly think should be dismissed as irrelevant. Also if someone believes that cheating is not a deviant behavior, then I would kindly suggest a quick trip to a psychiatrists office for an erudite clarification.

      • So you’re saying that you never went out for a drink with your friends or had a drink while on a date during your college years. Nothing wrong with that. Doing drugs isn’t pertaining to everyone just those that choose to disclose that they use.
        You missed the point where i acknowledged that they did survey ONLY college kids with tattoos. The reason that this report is irrelevant is because it is only a study on kids with tattoos and piercings. There is nothing stating that kids w/o ink or piercings are less likely to do deviant behavior. In order to be considered scientifically sound the survey needs a control group or something to compare those tattooed deviants to. There is no standard and with no standard it doesn’t and can’t count as being a legit report. So the fact that the mere 1753 students that took this survey had tattoos is irrelevant it’s just another common thing amongst the surveyed group. This survey is equivalent to taking a survey people who wear sneakers and saying that they are deviants because they smoke pot drink or have sex while in college while wearing the sneakers. But not bothering to look and question those that wear dress shoes.

        High 5 to you for not doing drugs drinking. Oh and on your 3.8 GPA… I’m inked up, drank like a fish, participated in the other deviant extracurricular’s and still pulled a 3.7 in under grad and a 3.6 in grad school. Not to mention that I accomplished my MSIS in a year. I now work for a respectable company and interact with customers everyday. So again I say the survey is flawed in many places and is irrelevant to the professional work place.

      • Jumped


        I read the abstract and did not see where it said that they surveyed “only those with ink or piercings.”

        It states: “We tested this proposition by surveying 1753 American college students, asking them to report their level of body art acquisition and their history of deviance.”

        It may be possible that only those inked/pierced were surveyed, but it is not possible to determine that from this statement.

        Also, though the difference is subtle, the study does not to corollate “deviant” behavior only with those with ink/piercing. Though it may suggest it, it really is corollating ink/piercing with *reporting* such behavior. It equally suggests that those without ink/piercing are less open about reporting it (i.e. lie about having committed “deviant” behavior). It’s even possible that those that reported high amounts of deviant behavior even lied about that to mess with the survey or felt ashamed, for what ever reason, that they did not commit any.