Student Guides

Tattoos and piercings: a danger to your future career

In the previous article I outlined the health risks of tattoos and piercings also known as body modifications and this time we will look out how these body modifications might reduce your chances of getting your dream job or reduce your employability.

Tattoos and piercings, a danger to your future career

People place tattoos or jewelries on their skin for various reasons like an expression of how they feel based on their circumstances, to mark a big event that happened to them or to just join the bandwagon of those with tattoos and feel among. All these reasons expresses our individual preferences and outlook to life but before making the decision to ink or pierce your skin as a student who wishes to finish school and join the labour market, you should ask yourself questions like:

  • In a world where first impressions matter, how would my future employers perceive the ink or jewelry on my skin when I go for interviews?
  • Are body modifications worth sacrificing my dream job for?
  • Do tattoos and piercings really make me look irresponsible or unserious to employers?

Sadly, the answers to these questions are not good, no and yes. According to a survey carried out by Workpolis, they asked over 300 (327) employers how a candidate’s tattoos would affect their decision to hire or not hire that person. 14% said they would be less likely to hire someone with tattoos, 23% said it would not affect their decision, and the rest said it would depend on the number and location of the tattoos and/or the role being filled. The rest, that is, except for one lone individual who answered that they would actually be more likely to hire a person with tattoos.

An addition of the number that were less likely to hire a candidate and those that said it depends on the tattoo location or the position applied for brought it to a total of 77%. In another survey they carried out by turning to the general population, they asked nearly 5,000 people – not necessarily in hiring positions – if they take a person less seriously if the person has tattoos. Forty-nine percent said “No,” leaving half (51%) of respondents who either do take someone less seriously for having tattoos, or might, depending on the situation and how many tattoos the person has.

While it might be tempting to say you wouldn’t want to work for anyone who would judge you based on your tattoos or piercings and doesn’t accept you the way you are, keep in mind that you might then find yourself out of work for a very long time. What this means for job seekers and students still in school is that you have to think before you Ink and pierce.

It might interest you to know that the survey discussed above was carried out in the USA talk more of Nigeria where most employers are conservative in thinking and are of the older generation who frown at body modifications terming those with such children of the devil due to religious beliefs or they end up seeing you as unserious, a hooligan or an irresponsible individual despite your qualifications, skill set and experience.

Even employers of the younger generation who may not really have an issue with the tattoos and piercings may have a divided mind towards hiring you so as not to upset their customers who are the sole key to their business. In the corporate world, no one will want to hire a wiz khalifa, naira maley or Chris brown looking individual because it will not look professional or look good on their organization and brand.

But I have/want a tattoo or piercing, what do I do?

Evidently, the traditional views of tattoos are still woven deep within Nigeria, outside Nigeria and the corporate world in general. So, unless you choose a creative sector of work or start your own business or Enterprise which is no child’s play, having a tattoo may set you back. GRB’s (Graduate recruitment bureau) marketing director and co-founder, Dan Hawes, advises undergraduates “to really consider how their personal adornment choices might be perceived by potential employers when they come to start looking at graduate employment opportunities. I do think attitudes are changing, but rightly or wrongly, some peoples’ personal opinions are old fashioned”.

So why are they such a big deal?

Like I stated earlier Nigerians and the older generation are really conservative and traditional concerning body modifications due to culture and religious beliefs and the corporate world are less tolerant to it as it creates a bad impression and a negative image about their brand and organization.

Steve Agace, director of sales at GRB, says that first impressions are very important when it comes to interviews. But the glimpse of inked skin can divide opinion. He explained that “highly creative industries like the media sector are unlikely to bat an eyelid, whereas more conservative client facing sectors like IT consultancy, management consultancy and recruitment are more likely to find very visible tattoos challenging.” But it’s not just about the industry, it’s also about the location and content of the body art: “It’s generally bad practice to swear in interviews,” Agace explains, “so going in with a vulgar or offensive tattoo on display is not exactly recommended practice”.

I have a tattoo/piercing already, is hiding it for interviews ok?

You might consider your latest ink or piercing a masterpiece that should be in the Louvre but when going for interviews it’s all about business and not tattoos and piercings. So, the answer is yes covering it for interviews is ok as well as when you are finally employed. For the piercings, getting them removed is ideal especially if they are in parts of the body where they are visible. Imagine dressing smartly in a corporate attire as a dude or a lady and sporting a ring on your nose! Not cool! I tell you.

Furthermore, your career is very important. If you want to stand better chances of being offered a job or progress in your line of work it might not be smart for you to post photos of your many hidden tattoos and piercings on your social media accounts. Employers are finicky.

Nowadays, companies go through the social media accounts of prospective employees before offering them a job. If your Instagram account looks like the art gallery of a tattoo artist, you might not have your dream job at all. The times and trends are changing and maybe someday we may get to a time were body modifications may be acceptable or tolerated until then make a wise decision about your future so you don’t get to spend huge sums going to remove tattoos and piercings. I assure you it’s pretty expensive or you end up living in regret. In all think before you pierce or ink.

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