Tattoos Equal Jobs?

By: Marie Donlon

It used to be that people bearing visible tattoos during a job interview would risk being passed over for the job. Yet, now that an estimated 20 percent of American adults and 40 percent of millennials have tattoos, researchers from the University of Miami Business School and the University of Western Australia have discovered that tattoos might actually give job candidates an upper hand in a competitive labor market.

In a survey of over 2,000 participants from all over the U.S., researchers discovered that the perception of tattoos in the workplace is wildly different than it once was. For instance, the wages and annual earnings of those with tattoos are now statistically the same as those without tattoos, whereas in the past, tattooed folks were perceived as “less employable.”

Yet, times have changed and the team discovered that in some cases, those with tattoos had a better chance at gaining employment.

"The long-held stigmas associated with having tattoos, and particularly visible ones, may be eroding, especially among younger individuals who view body art as a natural and common form of personal expression," said Michael French, lead author and professor of health economics in the Miami Business School's Department of Health Sector Management and Policy. "Given the increasing prevalence of tattoos in society — around 40 percent for young adults — hiring managers and supervisors who discriminate against tattooed workers will likely find themselves at a competitive disadvantage for the most qualified employees."

The research is detailed in the journal Human Relations.