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Are tattoos OK at work?

While tattoos are becoming more mainstream, they can still put a damper on your career.

By Stacy Johnson Jul 27, 2011 10:06AM

This post comes from Brandon Ballenger at partner site Money Talks News.

While sailors, bikers and punk rockers have long sported tattoos, it used to be rare to find one on a lawyer, doctor or banker. But that was then.

An estimated 45 million Americans have a tattoo. Also, a 2010 Pew Research Center report says they're equally common for women and men, with nearly 40% of 18- to 29-year-olds and about a third of 30- to 45-year-olds sporting at least one.

The report says 70% of the inked community keeps tattoos hidden at work or during job interviews. However, Jim Robinson says in the video below that some employers may be softening up. Check it out, and then read on for some job advice.

Companies do have to accept the evolving culture to keep talent around, but most of the time workers are the ones who do the adapting. As we noted in "How not to get a promotion," a CareerBuilder survey suggests that obvious ink hurts promotion prospects. Only piercings and bad breath were considered more damaging.

Here's a quick rundown on how to keep it professional at work: 

  • Cover your tattoos. Whatever you might think, the law doesn't protect your ink. In 2006, a county in Southern California banned tattoos among its employees, along with jeans and piercings. So if you aren't sure it's OK to sport tattoos at your company, play it safe and cover them.
  • Keep a professional image. The CareerBuilder survey suggests avoiding clothes that are too casual; too much perfume, cologne, or makeup; a messy personal workspace; chewing fingernails; and even being too suntanned. Of course, not all offices are concerned with the superficial. But if yours is, either maintain your appearance, find a different workplace, or work for yourself.
  • Don't abuse technology. Sending email to the wrong recipients, texting during business meetings, griping about the boss on Facebook, and other online blunders can hurt your career. Sure, your smartphone is incredibly cool, convenient, and indispensable -- but get a grip and pocket the phone. (On the other hand, some tech tips can help you land a job and save your leisure time.)

More on Money Talks News and MSN Money:

Jul 27, 2011 5:23PM
 All young people think they're going to somehow die young and never get old and wrinkly.  Fortunately, nearly all of you are wrong. You nver know, you might need a job some day when the world has gone to h**l.  Don't blow it by having spiders crawling all over your neck.
Jul 27, 2011 4:09PM

Praying for the day when this idiotic trend has run its course. Prehaps investing in tattoo removal places is a good move.

Jul 27, 2011 9:58PM
Now that tatoos are a trend, so many are proving how unique they are by being like everyone else.  Many don't stop to think that when it stops being trendy, the tatoo will still be there..... forever. 
Jul 27, 2011 7:38PM
wtf!!! i care about looking at your but ugly an employer i've heard countless complaints from customers about employees with god awful tattoos...who are you trying to impress...tarzan..or your circus geek parents..please have your dna checked before you reproduce.
Jul 27, 2011 5:33PM

wtf?!?!?!?! who cares what is inked on someone.  What's the real issue here?  it sounds to me like theres more subtext crawling around the depths of this one.  being slaves to an economy, we should be given more freedoms.  FIrst we have to conform to this nonsensical paradigm which only benefits the burgeouise and on top of that we must conform to their rules in order to earn enough monetary units to survive.


We should be encouraged to be as comfortable in this existence as possible.  If we're more confortable wearing sweats to the office.... why is that a "career don't"?!?!?!?!?  


Something sounds wrong here..........

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