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Have Employers Finally Stopped Stigmatising Tattoos?

© Photo by Timothy Paul Smith on Unsplash

When my sister got a neck tattoo earlier this year, our entire family was aghast. ‘That’s her career ruined,’ I heard over and over from older relatives, set in the belief that employers see any visible tattoos and run for the hills.

While there are, undoubtedly, employers still holding the same archaic opinion that tattoos are unprofessional, attitudes have slowly begun to change – after all, it’s estimated that one in three young adults in the UK have a tattoo.

This has been proven by researchers at the University of Miami and University of Western Australia Business School. Studying how important visible tattoos are to employers in the US, the findings show that having tattoos has no bearing on an employer’s likelihood to gain employment and can even help them in some cases.

‘Not only are the wages and annual earnings of tattooed employees in the United States statistically indistinguishable from the wages and annual earnings of employees without tattoos,’, the study read, ‘but tattooed individuals are also just as likely, and in some instances even more likely, to gain employment.’

I can almost see your forehead creasing with confusion and cynicism, as we too were astounded by these findings. ‘Surely not?’ we questioned, after decades of being warned never to get a visible tattoo lest you be forever unemployed. And with 72% of millennials covering up their tattoos, according to the Pew Research Centre, we’re not alone in being convinced of this.

But for the 28% that proudly display their body art, my sister being one of them, this may not be news. ‘I would never hide my tattoos, for a job interview or not’, says Abigail Yean, 25, who has half of her neck tattooed and that majority of her right forearm, ‘I don’t think I’ve lost any job opportunities and I’ve worked everywhere from posh hotels to more laidback restaurants.’

And while career advice service Monster advises people with visible tattoos to 'conceal the ink', Abi has never been asked to do so by an employer. ‘The majority of people have tattoo’s where I currently work,’ she continued, ‘but I've never been asked to cover up my tattoos at any job, even the one on my neck.’

Yet despite this, she hears the same ‘you’re ruining your career chances’ remarks from her family often. ‘My mum still continues to tell me that to this day, four years after my first one,’ she said, ‘I’ve heard it thousands of times, but I’m yet to find an employer who feels the same.’

So, next time you go to visit your parents with a turtleneck jumper on in August, whip it off and direct them to this article...

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