Tattoos: A Discourse

It has recently come out that having a tattoo may actually act as a barrier between you and potential employment.

A large number of young people today have some form of tattoo, which begs the question: who’s hiring?

There has always been a stigma surrounding tattoos. They have often been described as ‘untidy’ or ‘unprofessional’. While that may be true for a broad majority of employers, there are some niche employment opportunities that might look past or even embrace your ink. These would include placements like creative media, game design, and obviously anything to do with tattooing as a start.

But you have to know which tattoos could be accepted and which wouldn’t.

So, for example, any facial tattoos will be a straight up no. Unfortunately we aren’t in a world where we just accept people once we get to see what they can do in their desired field. Employers will tend not to take risks. If you have a face tattoo, chances are an employer will attribute stereotypes to you, i.e. that you didn’t think about the tattoo.

There are a few policies which restrict tattoos. The Metropolitan Police ban any tattoos on the hands or face, and any that could be perceived as “discriminatory, violent or intimidating.” Some companies won’t hire people with football tattoos, as it could link with hooliganism. Sandra Beale, independent human resources consultant, said that employers have every right to choose who represents their company.

I managed to have a word with local tattoo artist Emma Burdis, who works at Hyper Ink in Newcastle, about how a tattoo might affect your job prospects.

She said;

“This is the problem I see. The generation now old enough and getting tattoos was born in an age where patience isn’t needed. Information can be obtained in seconds. Fitting in used to mean within a small physical group where following a trend and being the best at it was attained very few. Now the group is global social media where pictures are manipulated and paraded as truth.


*Images given by Emma Burdis*

“There are finger tattoos, tiny birds all in visible places, that over time will eventually blur and heal badly but because its on Instagram now it doesn’t matter. I see people get tattoos for the selfie in hope of the most likes and they come back in months wanting it covered or lasered off. It’s changed tattooing.


“As an artist it’s very upsetting seeing a single-lined infinity symbol get more attention than a piece drawn from scratch by a true artist and tattooed to perfection. It’s not a trend but people see it that way now.”


This has quite a bit of truth to it. The number of people getting tattoos has increased tenfold due to role models like David Beckham, Cheryl Cole, and a number of others getting tattoos, meaning that young adults think it’s cool to get them.

Small tattoos will be easier to hide, and employers may be more forgiving if you have something simple like a rose or a butterfly.

Tattoos are a conundrum in the world of work. Maybe one day we’ll see past face value and judge people on their manner and etiquette. Not whether they have a small bird on their wrist, or the bat symbol on their arm. It’s also a shame for those tattoo artists who put pride and effort into their works, who are then labelled as just as bad, because they’re the ones who drew the tattoo. Which is a load of bull.

But then, there are… well… these.