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"I Don't Want a Job That Doesn't Want My Tattoos"

I Don't Want a Job That Doesn't Want My TattoosThat little gem was waiting for me in my search terms a few weeks ago. For you non-bloggers out there (you lucky dogs), search terms are lists of word combos, sentences, and phrases that people type into search engines in hopes of having their questions and concerns answered in a succint and professional manner. On the internet. By random bloggers. So yeah, optimism is alive and well, but I digress.

My personal blog www.thetattootourist.com covers a lot of tattoo related stuff as well as random asides, personal crap, and - in a shameless attempt to curry favor with my teenage daughter - alternative music and bands (can you say press passes?). My search terms mostly revolve around tattoo healing, tattoo tipping, and tattoo artists. Some of my more sublime search terms ask the important questions like, "Should I do meth with my tattoo?" and my personal favorite, "What is the traditional tattoo for your fifth murder?"  But the one I opened this post with really caught my eye.

Needles and Sins blog, tattooed lawyerI'm not sure what the searcher hoped to find with that term and I wonder if they found anything of value on my site, since Google - in its infinite wisdom - sent them my way... but the statement is a strong one. The notion of making yourself "un-hirable" comes up quite a bit as a heavily tattooed person (i.e. someone with large, visible tattoos). Now the lucky people who work at Painful Pleasures aren't worrying about their neck and hand tattoos, and neither are the colorful kids employed at Hot Topic. Good luck getting hired there without some serious ink. But what about if you have, or want, a more "traditional" job? Something in law or medicine perhaps. Well many tattoo fans might be aware of one of the oldest tattoo blogs around - Needles and Sins. The admin of that blog is covered in tattoos AND she is a lawyer. Maybe you have seen the meme of the tattooed old guy in a leather vest and also his lab coat - that's because he is a doctor.  But, their tattoos are mainly hidden from view.

Neck and hand tattoos have gotten wildly popular and they are just about impossible to hide - so what does that do to your career options? It depends. If you want to work in the arts, the service industry (mainly nightlife), the music industry, or Trader Joes, you are good to go. Add in coffee barista and many retail settings, and your horizon continues to expand. My vet has a vet tech who I adore, Not only is she wonderful with my cats, dogs, and pet chickens (yes - I take my chickens to the vet... deal with it), but she also has giant roses tattooed on her neck and sailing ships tattooed on her hands. We always enjoy catching up on each other's new ink while she handles my various pets. I asked her once how the little old lady clients with their fussy cats dealt with her prominent ink and she said most people were nice and never said a word. She is a professional person and good at her job. THAT is what she should be judged on -  not her body adornment. And in her case, it is working for her.

doctor with tattoos, doctor david j oresTattoos in professional settings used to be exceptionally rare, but that is not the case any longer. This week I visited Stanford Medical Center and in going through several different areas including reception, scheduling, lab, and concierge, I saw visible tattoos on quite a number of employees. Did it detract from their professionalism or competency? Absolutely not. I didn't see any tattoos on the doctors, but they had their lab coats on so who can tell? Have we arrived at the place where visible tattoos no longer have an impact on your ability to get hired? Not quite. There are still many places where visible tattoos knock you out of the running, but as more and more people have discreet tattoos I think those old prejudices are finally falling by the wayside.

I believe that if you are a tattooed person and you feel that your tattoos are an asset and an accurate reflection of who you are and how you want to present yourself to the world, then your ink should not hold you back. You might not be the next Supreme Court Justice, but you can definitely work in any number of fields without being treated as a second class citizen due to your tattoos. The old fashioned prejudice against ink is dying out. Sometimes I think the only one left holding the torch is my mom - who happens to hate my tattoos, although we did agree to no longer discuss them or the likelihood of me continuing to get more. You can't win them all. Maybe the only real remaining prejudice against tattooed people has to do with the quality of the work and occasionally the content.

If you have something hateful or offensive scrawled where the world can view it, then that will be a problem at the temp agency. The same goes for very low quality work as it tends to look crappy and "sketchy". If you have some crappy work and you feel like your job interviews are constantly leading to dead ends, maybe consider wearing more clothes or having those tattoos covered with better work.  You don't want the job that doesn't want your tattoos - unless you yourself are questioning those tattoos.  Now go search for something interesting and make a blogger's day!