Tit for Tat

mikeAnyone that has been in my office instantly realizes how obsessed I am with gnomes. I blame it on J.R.R. Tolkien and other fantasy writers I engulfed myself in during middle school. When I was fourteen, I had this grand idea for the perfect tattoo: a gray-bearded gnome wearing a blue coat and a red hat. His nose would be rosy red like Santa’s and his grin would make the strongest politicians jealous. Back then there was a small problem — my age, parental consent was required. Well, that and I had no money to pay for the tattoo.

At eighteen years of age, I still had the idea in the forefront of my mind, but my girlfriend (the next best thing to a mother) convinced me that she would not be around if I got the tattoo. Twenty years later I still don’t have my gnome tattoo. Interestingly enough though, I still have the girlfriend who is now my wife. Things seem to work out, I guess. Nonetheless I still want that tattoo, and one day I will have it! Just not in a place that is visible . . .

Which brings this rambling story to the point: This week I had the privilege of attending a weeklong conference on career and technology programming for high school students. Each session provided a new batch of knowledge on topics such as interviewing, career planning, landing that first job, welding, technology and other programs. What stands out for me is that at least five of the presenters took time during their presentations to discuss the implications of tattoos, particularly visible tattoos.

Employers are wary to hire applicants with tattoos placed on the face, neck, or any other visible location. Many hiring professionals believe that altered physical appearances affect the ability to deal with customers in a professional manner. Not that the tattoos in themselves are wrong, but social norms do not embrace tattoos in the professional world.

All five of the presenters had the same advice for those that had tattoos already, “find a way to cover them up”. For those contemplating getting a tattoo, they suggested placing it in a location that can easily be masked during work hours. In my case, I’m thinking a forearm tattoo of the gnome. I wear long sleeves and could hide it easily. Of course, I still have to convince my wife that it is a good idea . . . ugh!

For more information about tattoos in the workplace, check out these articles:

How to Job Hunt with Tattoos

Finding a Job When You Have Tattoos, Piercings, or Body Modifications

When Tattoos Hurt Job Prospects

Michael Webster serves as an Industry Liaison to the Education Sector for the Gulf Coast Workforce Board. With over a decade of experience in teaching and staff development, Michael is passionate about ensuring all students achieve an enriching and successful life beyond high school. In his current capacity, he services school districts in developing a strong workforce and in delivering career resources to students and their families.



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