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Tuesday, March 8, 2011

''Article '' Choosing Tattoos Over Job Prospects?

"tattoos or job"
by R. Asmerom
by R. Asmerom

Sometimes, you gotta wonder: how does a young person cover himself with tattoos and not think about the consequences? Is he just living in the moment? Sure, many artists and idols in popular culture like Lil Wayne and Travis Barker help make the tattooed look appear cool and unique but they also work in an industry where self-expression is not regulated.
For many people who don’t have the opportunity to work as a professional artist or for a forward thinking tech firm, uniforms, dress code and professional appearance are still part of the corporate workplace dynamic. “Sporting a “sleeve”, an arm full of tattoos, or a scorpion across your neck, may work in some office environments but the majority of corporate cultures still frown on tattoos and piercings,” said Diane Gottsman, owner of The Protocol School of Texas, a company specializing in corporate etiquette training. “When a college student or young adult is interviewing for a job, a tattoo can make an unfavorable impression, even if the impression is not verbalized.”
It is evident that for many young people, factoring career advancement into their decisions to get tattoos is not a priority. It’s testimony to an evolution of the perspective on career, work and life. “Gen Xers began the modern tattoo trend as body art and many were thoughtful about having tattoos that could be easily covered,” said Diane Spiegel, CEO of The End Result, a firm specializing in corporate training and leadership development. Millennials have taken this art form to the next level and view it as an extension of their brand, who they are, what they believe, how they view the world and many are not concerned that there will be any consequences.”

With so many young people shedding a conservative mentality towards career, how will corporate America and these young people negotiate or change the status quo? Can Lisa still be hired as a corporate lawyer at a top law firm with tattoos coating her left arm and neck? Spiegel believes that workplaces will adjust to cultural changes.
“Corporations are changing because the employee population is changing. This year the first wave of Baby Boomers will be retiring and that is changing the demographics of leadership and management,” she said. “Ten years ago Quick Service Restaurants had a strict policy about not being able to show tattoos for those who worked with the public. Many were asked to cover with ace bandages as a condition of hire. In the last few years, many companies such as Jamba Juice, Starbucks and Pete’s Coffee have backed down on this policy and now embrace those who wear tattoos as they also reflect their customer base.”
Spiegel witnessed how these changes are playing out during an experience with clients.  “My team and I were making a presentation for a project to a very conservative organization and we were worried that our web designer who is not only tattooed but body pierced would make a negative impression. We let the team know ahead of time that this web designer was terrific, but he is a scenster and we were concerned. After the meeting, we asked for feedback, worried that Rich our web designer would freak them out and they said, they will take talented contributors in any form they came in.”
In ten years, maybe the issue of body art won’t be an issue worth discussing when it comes to human resources but for now, the millenials who are seeking to expand the definition of professionalism still have to deal with the existing attitudes at many workplaces. “The bottom line is that employers have a right to require their employees to dress in a manner that upholds the professionalism of the company,” said Gottsman.


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