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Do Tattoos Go Alone With Professionalism?

Tattoos are more acceptable now than ever before. A 2008 survey revealed that 25% of those who are aged between 30 and 39 had at least one tattoo. The percentage for the age group between 25 and 29 increased to 32%. As tattoos seem to be very common these days, will it be acceptable to wear tattoos or piercings in a professional setting?

There is no question about people’s rights of putting tattoos or piercings anywhere they like on their bodies. However, I agree with this CNN News video that people had better cover their tattoos up when it comes to professional occasions, such as job interviews, sale pitches, and presentations. It is just another human nature --- people judge others by their “looks,” especially when people do not know each other well.

Since 2010, we have discussed professional dress in a variety of ways. We talked about how event planners’ professional look may influence their business, how college students need to dress in business attire in job search, and how a bank on Wall Street put up a long list of dress codes for employees. Because hospitality is also a very conservative business, I would recommend the “old-fashioned” business attire for all hospitality professionals, which also means no tattoos and piercings.

If you are a manager, what would you think when you interview a candidate who is wearing tattoos and/or piercings? If you are a job seeker, what would you think of your future employer if the manager who is interviewing you wears tattoos and/or piercings? If you are checking into a hotel, what would you think of your hotel stay if the bellman who is carrying you luggage also wears a big tattoo on his arms?


  1. My personal belief is that tattoos in the work place should not be an issue. Tattoos are a form of culture and expression and people should not face discrimination because of this. Unfortunately people will still judge those with tattoos and this may hurt their chances of getting a job. I understand the concern people have to cover their tattoos in the work place but I feel that an employer who does not allow employees with tattoos is very close minded. I would not want to work for someone that felt uncomfortable by something as mainstream as tattoos.

    -Michelle Berger

  2. As a person with three tattoos I feel the need to respond to this post. When I get my tattoos done I made sure they were small, and in spots that could typically not be seen in public unless I wanted them to be. I did this for two reasons; First is because the tattoos are for me, they are personal moments in my life that I never want to lose and I could creativly and beautifully express them through ink and art, but only show them when I felt it was appropriate. The second reason that I kept them small and out of sight is that I did want to maintain a professional look still.
    I believe it is fine to have tattoos showing but it depends on the type of work, I reception at a hair salon where everyone has their own style, so it's great to see all of the different funky looks that the girls and guys have, but as a Hospitality Major I believe some things should remain hidden to retain professionalism.

    -Devorah Weinstein

  3. I beleive that it is very important to cover yourself when you have a tattoo especially when your in a professional environment. I personally don't have any tattoos, but if I was a manager at a company and I am interviewing a potential candidate and their tattoo is at a location where I can see it cleary, I would automically make a judgement of this person. First impressions are very important during an interview because this person can easily make a judgement of you based on your appearances. However, I also believe that it is not a problem if you have a tattoo, just as long as you cover it up. This way, you can still keep the professionalism as well as the culture of having a tattoo.

    Anna Wu

  4. I personally do not think that tattoos should have any bearing in the work place. What somebody does with their body is their prerogative and shouldn't effect their performance or reputation at work. I have a small tattoo on my wrist and I would be personally offended if I was treated differently at work, or if my tattoo prevented me from getting a job I fully deserved. With that said I do also think that people with many tattoos, like the woman in the video, should at least cover up a little because it is a professional environment. People rarely have their arms fully showing while at work, because the professional dress code usually calls for jackets and such. But work affiliates and employers should not focus on the tattoo but on the work done by the person with the tattoo

  5. Since tattoos are more and more accepted these days, I think it will not be a big issue when hiring people in the future. If I am a manager, I will not judge a person by his/her tattoos, as long as the shapes and the sizes of the tattoos can be acceptable by most people. I have also heard a story about my friend. She has a wing-shaped tattoo on her left hand. When she was interviewed by the employer, the employer asked her about the meaning of her tattoo. after hearing her tattoo story, her employer was very impressed. Finally, she got that job. I know this case is not typical, but I think it will be in the future.

    -- Xinyao Su (NSD 314)

  6. I have a total of eight tattoos and want to do more. I see tattoos as a form of expression, "body art". At least thats how i use my tattoos. I would be lying if i said tattoos shouldn't be an issue at work place. All my tattoos are hidden, with the exception of one. The location in where you get your tattoo at, i believe is the key deciding factor. If i were a manager of a hotel i know i would most likely not hire a person with a tattoo on his/her face or neck. Theres a time to be professional and tattoos are really not viewed as professional. Yes, its been accepted into our culture but there are many who are still against this "taboo". these people are your customers. Again, the location of the tattoo is what should be considered.

    Angie Garcia (Hotel operation)


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