Why a tattoo could cost you the chance of a new job

To tattoo, or not to tattoo '“ that is the question.

Thursday, 27th October 2016, 12:55 pm
Updated Thursday, 27th October 2016, 5:31 pm

Or perhaps a more pertinent one would be: will having one affect your career prospects?

Granted, if you’re a pop star or a footballer, then you can get inked to your heart’s content.

But for the majority of us, it’s something that needs careful consideration.

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One in five people in the UK now have a tattoo, yet new research shows many employers still have a negative

attitude to body art in the workplace.

Ex-Apprentice star and businesswoman Margaret Mountford certainly falls into that category.

The former right-hand woman of Lord Sugar says that tattoos are not only “unhygienic”, but they seriously hinder a person’s chances of obtaining a job.

“They are a real problem...because there are swathes of the workplace where it is simply not appropriate,” says the 64-year-old.

“In a reception area of a major company you do not want to be met by a young person with a tattoo up their arm.

“If you work in a hairdresser’s, people do not want to see a tattooed arm washing their hair, or in a restaurant serving them food.”

While Mountford is right that tattoos are still far from widely accepted in the workplace, there is evidence to suggest that attitudes to body art are slowly – but surely – changing.

Edinburgh-based tattoo artist Erik Grieve, who has inked celebrities like John Bishop, Daniel Sloss and Hazel O’Connor, has seen a distinct shift in what customers are comfortable with in terms of body art.

“There is a surge in demand for tattoos on throats and hands, often among those who are younger,” he

says. “Whether it’s right or wrong,

people judge others based on appearance. It’s instinctual.

“There may be a shift in social acceptance, and it does seem to be happening, but it’s part of my job to make

sure that my customers are aware

that having a massive portrait of Donald Trump on their throat might affect their future prospects as a QC.

“My advice is to think about

whether you want to be potentially

limited by your ink,” adds Grieve.

With more young people now

having a tattoo, organisations are

starting to look at whether banning

tattoos is counterproductive.

Stephen Williams, head of equality as Acas, says: “Almost a third of

young people now have tattoos, so

whilst it remains a legitimate business decision, a dress code that restricts people with tattoos might

mean companies are missing out on

talented workers.”

Andrew Timming at St Andrews

University, who has researched the

role of tattoos in hiring practices, sees

a change in attitudes as inevitable.

In his research Dr Timming found

there were some organisations where

a tattoo might be deemed an asset –

those marketing towards younger

people, including pubs and clubs or

in the creative industries where it can

be seen as a sign of original thinking.

“Isn’t that what employers are

looking for these days? Someone who

doesn’t always toe the line?”

“Isn’t Richard Branson talking

about disruptive talent in the workplace? This is [that] kind of person.”