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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:

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