Are Tattoos Holding you Back in the Job Interview

Visible tattoos, once considered a serious flaw in the job interview, no longer seem to predict job search failure.
With the success of TV reality shows like Miami Ink and LA Ink, college students are more inked and more colorful than ever.

Pew Research in 2006 showed that 36% of 18 to 25 year-olds and 40% of those aged 26 to 40, have at least one tattoo. Earlier in 2000, the National Geographic News stated that 15% of Americans were tattooed.

In a 2006 survey of employer perceptions conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), hiring managers were asked to state the amount of influence that certain factors had on their hiring decisions.

The results may be surprising to many career professionals who have urged job seekers to err on the side of being conservative and hide those tattoos.

The NACE survey results showed that only 29% of employers stated that obvious tattoos strongly influenced them while 71% said it had slight to no influence on their hiring decisions. A cautionary note - taken by itself, that does not mean that employers look favorably on tattoos in the job interview.

Add that, however, to what John A. Challenger, of renowned global outplacement firm, Challenger, Gray and Christmas stated in a 2007 interview with the Boston Globe. "A decade ago, showing off tattoos and body piercings would be a sure-fire way to get your resume placed in the 'No Way!' pile. Times have changed."
Challenger shared that hiring managers were more concerned about baggy-underwear-revealing-pants and cell phones in the job interview then they were about tattoos.

While the trends have indicated greater tolerance for tattoos in the job interview, jobseekers should keep in mind that HR managers making hiring decisions have their own personal biases. A January 2008 Harris Interactive poll surveying more than 2000 adults found that 32% of people without tattoos believed that individuals with tattoos were more likely to do something deviant.

Additionally, more than half believed that a person with a tattoo is more rebellious. Hiring mangers conducting the job interview, although trying to remain objective, might still tend towards their personal opinions and dismiss your candidacy for the job.

New college grads have to set themselves apart in the job interview in a positive way and tattoos may cause too many distractions.

New college grads should err on the side of conservatism and cover up those tattoos. There will be plenty of time to show them off later. For now the goal is to get the job offer and get the proverbial foot-in-the-door.