Tattoos at Work: Some Hopefully Helpful Tips!

I was walking home from work today, wondering what I wanted to write about for you all, and I thought to myself, “hey, let’s talk about work!”. Don’t worry, I’m not going to bore you with facts about empathy and calming angry people down, I want to talk to you about your tattoos instead. I feel like some of this may end up being a little generalised, so if you have anything you’d like to contribute, I’d love to hear from you in the comments. I’ll try to talk through some major stages of working, though, to the best of my abilities!

Right now, there are a lot of people unemployed in the UK. I don’t know how many people are unemployed, because this seems to change depending on what bollocks newspaper you’re reading (see Tuesday’s Daily Mail rant), but it’s a lot of people. If you’re one of those, and you’ve been thinking about your tattoos and where they may come into play, hopefully I can be of a little help here!

In all honesty, I can’t stand articles that preach on about how ‘acceptable’ tattooing supposedly is right now, nor can I put up with ones that ask ‘why can’t people accept me and my sleeves?’, but I can assure you that, to some people, this could be a minor issue. There are no real rules of etiquette, of course, but your tattoos aren’t the be all and end all of whether you’ll get a job. Please don’t spend ages worry about it like many people do, or you’ll go mental.

During my last year of university, I did some research into careers and employment, and I found that on occasion, careers advisors may make assumptions about your tattoos if they’re on show. This isn’t something that can happen often, though if someone does judge you they might not be telling you about all of your opportunities, since they could assume you won’t be able to get the job. Here, I’d advise just wearing a jacket or a cardigan or something- most careers advisors and people in the job centre are really nice about tattoos, but you don’t want to have the bad luck of having the rare arsehole who can’t do their job.

If you get a job interview- first off, congratulations and good luck! Again though, I’d say it’s a good idea to wear something that covers up your tattoos, though you don’t have to go to massive lengths. Most of you guys will have tattoos you can cover with long sleeves and trousers, just wear those. You don’t have to act like it’s a big secret, though, so don’t worry about that!

If you got the job- congratulations again! With the current unemployment rates, you’re in a great position if you have a job! With any job, there’s usually a little bit of training, where you’ll be told about the dress code- tattoos should usually come up here, so you won’t have to worry about what’s acceptable at all. However, there’ll be times when the dress code doesn’t apply- if you take a look around and see the people you’re working with, and see people with tattoos, it’s completely fair to assume you can wear some shorter sleeves. This all depends on the job, really, but a lot of the time you’ll be able to get a good idea just from looking around! In some jobs, this wouldn’t even be an issue at all to begin with, but you’ll just have to use your initiative to figure out what’s appropriate.

Where I work, all tattoos are supposed to be covered up, though I’ve been told I can roll up my sleeves all I like, because my tattoos are well done and aren’t offensive- to my boss, well done tattoos are smart enough for work. Your boss might be the same, which is another cool reason to make sure you’re going to a great tattoo artist! I know sometimes it feels like loads of people hate tattooing, but really most non-tattooed people are genuinely curious and impressed with good tattoos, so as long as yours are good, people will respond to them in a much more positive way than they would if your tattoos looked like scratched up squiggles.

To be honest, being a writer I obviously read a lot of things my peers write, and I read some real drivel about how they’re not ‘accepted’ and stuff- I think it’s bollocks. It’s just a dress code- you wouldn’t wear a ripped up dirty t shirt to work in an office, so if you’re not supposed to have your tattoos out, don’t do that either. It’s not really a big deal like people seem to make out. If you’re professional and dress smartly, your tattoos will be a much smaller issue. If you do have to completely cover them up, just wear long sleeves and jumpers, it’s not a big deal- not many people like their work clothes regardless of what’s under them. If you carry yourself well, then it’s not a big deal.

I feel like I’m half-ranting, so I’ll leave it here, though if anyone would like any second opinions on certain things, feel free to post a comment. I’d also love to hear about your own experiences with your tattoos at work- you may be able to bring something new to the table, considering I’ve only worked in places where you have to dress smartly- it might be completely different for other places, so let’s try to bring together some ideas!

2 Responses to “Tattoos at Work: Some Hopefully Helpful Tips!”
  1. kidkimura says:

    I think it does depend so much on how your boss is. I’ve worked in places that have had no policy in covering tattoos yet have seen the boss try to forbid staff from getting any more! My current job says tattoos are ok as long as they’re not offensive, but then that in itself is objective. Is a skull offensive, how about a dagger? Again, it comes down to what your boss is like and how you present yourself.

    • Mel Noir says:

      Yeah, I have to agree with that, although really there’s no reason why a boss should be saying anything against tattoos if there is no policy. If there’s no policy, it’s up to whether they as an individual see tattoos as professional, which is a totally subjective thing that they shouldn’t really be deciding if they have others who work above them. However, arguing with your boss over their decisions isn’t really something people like to do, haha. But yes, I think a lot of it is how you present yourself, for sure!

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