Tattoos Still Reduce Chances Of Getting Hired, Study Finds

09/05/2013 12:58 pm ET | Updated Sep 06, 2013
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That body art of yours better be getting you some good attention on the street, because it's certainly not helping you get a new job anytime soon.

Yes, visible tattoos still carry a negative connotation among employers and could be hurting your chances of getting hired, according to a new study by Dr. Andrew Timming of St. Andrew's University School of Management in Scotland.

(About 23 percent of Americans today have a tattoo, and 32 percent of people ages 30-45 have at least one, according to a separate study by Pew Research Center.)

After Dr. Timming interviewed hiring managers and recruiters from 14 different organizations -- who worked in places including banks, schools and prisons -- he found the majority of those surveyed said that visible tattoos remain a stigma, according to Management Issues, a management information website.

Surveyed employers said visible tattoos can "make a person look dirty" and "would stop me from employing them," according to Management Issues. Distaste for the tattoos seemed to stem not so much from the employers themselves but from their fear of how other customers might react.

"Respondents expressed concern that visibly tattooed workers may be perceived by customers to be 'abhorrent', 'repugnant', 'unsavoury' and 'untidy'." Dr. Timming said. "It was surmised that customers might project a negative service experience based on stereotypes that tattooed people are thugs and druggies."

But there were some professions that felt more strongly about tattoos than others. Prison guards, for example, can often benefit from having tattoos by giving them something to talk about with prisoners.

Were there any signs of hope? Well, Dr. Timming did note that employers who responded most negatively tended to be older, which suggests tattoos may become more workplace appropriate in time.

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