How much ink you should show depends on the tattoo and the prospective employer. Picture: iStock.
How much ink you should show depends on the tattoo and the prospective employer. Picture: iStock.

Why you should cover tattoos at job interviews

WITH  arguably more skin on display than ever before, the latest research from Australian consultancy McCrindle tells us that if you are starting to believe tattoos have become more popular than ever, then you are right on the money - one in five Australians has at least one tattoo.

For many years, people associated tattoos with groups described as being outside the social centre. Think gangs, bikies and hardened criminals.

But with around 20 per cent of all Australians now inked, tattoos and body art have gained a much wider social acceptance and are increasingly seen as a form of self-expression rather than the domain of those on the fringe.

Still, one question remains unanswered: Does this social acceptance extend to employers gradually changing their tune when it comes to hiring those with visible tattoos?

One in five Australians has at least one tattoo. Picture: supplied
One in five Australians has at least one tattoo. Picture: supplied

In many of today's modern workplaces, negative attitudes towards the inked may have started to fade though reaction to body bling is likely to come down to where the tattoo is and the message it portrays.

Some organisations have rightfully recognised that not hiring those with tattoos denies the organisation access to around one fifth of the available talent pool.

With more people than ever getting some form of body art, businesses have become acutely aware of the negative impact of excluding an ever-increasing cohort from their prospective workforce.

Even some of today's most successful business people make little attempt to cover up their tattoos, acknowledging that we ought to reject any form of stereotyping in our workforces - and that includes unfairly labelling those who sport tattoos and body art.

For some employers, showing ink could help your chances of getting the job. Picture: supplied
For some employers, showing ink could help your chances of getting the job. Picture: supplied

In fact, if you are applying for a position in a trendy clothing outlet, a visible tattoo might be viewed as a fashionable accessory and actually increase your chances of getting the position.

Notwithstanding this era of increased acceptance, the skull that is the size of a 50 cent piece and neatly tattooed on the back of your neck will probably work against you if you are trying to secure a position in a fine dining restaurant.

It is usually not unlawful for Australian employers to discriminate against employees with tattoos.

This means that some employers will continue to have in place dress or appearance codes which, for any number of reasons, reject what seems to be a growing movement to allow visible tattoos in the workplace.

So while tattoos and body art are no longer the kiss of death in many workplaces, the best approach for someone applying for a position remains to think before showing off their ink.

That is because the broader community acceptance of your body art has not necessarily made it to a workplace near you.

And if you remain unsure how your tattoo will be viewed, keep it covered up.

Professor Gary Martin is Chief Executive Officer Australian Institute of Management WA.

@garyrmartin3