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Wednesday, 1 July 2015
The Problem With Body Art
The Problem With Body Art
Houston, we have a problem. Or do we?
See, I like tattoos. I don’t have one, but that’s because
I can’t figure out what to get
and/or where to place it. Not because I hate tattoos. In
fact, I admire folks who have them.
That being said, it’s been my experience that HR hates
and I’ve been giving this a lot of thought lately.
Here’s the definitive guide to how HR pros interact with
HR generally looks for four criteria before making a snap
judgement regarding your tattoo.
Size of tattoo.
Did you go with the quarter size lucky charm or the
softball sized lucky charm?
Size is important… let’s put that argument to bed. (Damn,
I crack myself up.)
Size of your tattoo speaks directly to your judgment.
What were you thinking at that particular moment?
Was your decision making impaired by the amount of
tequila shots, etc?
They will assume so if you have a life-sized basketball
tattoo on your forearm.
Moreover, and especially given today’s tattoo removal
if you still have that life-sized basketball tattoo on
your forearm – that speaks volumes
about your judgement. Not just at the time of tattoo
inception but continued poor judgement.
Anyone can make a bad decision, but only morons live
daily with them plastered on their forearm.
Placement of tattoo.
So you went with the Greek goddess. I totally get that…
she’s hot and important in Greek lore.
I get that. How did you make the decision on where to
on your less than perfect human form? That’s what HR is
going to judge you on.
Somewhere secret behind clothes OR on your wrist or neck.
What that tells HR about you is how willing you are to
comply with the rules.
Don’t get me wrong… sometimes HR wants to hire a
renegade. But more often than not,
if they can “see” your tattoos, they have already
secretly written you off
as a future problem employee. Visible = problem.
Symbolism of tattoo.
The “what” is important! Did you go with Jesus or
Did you go with pagan symbolism or Cherokee (assuming you
If HR can see your tattoos you might already be in hot
but your ability to tell a story about your art speaks
Getting a baby Jesus on your ankle in South Beach after
an all-nighter “just cause” tells a story
about you. Getting inked up with the birth date of your
dearly departed Na Na
tells yet another story. Assuming HR can identify your
be on the ready to tell a compelling story as to why you
chose your artwork.
Heavy emphasis on compelling.
Quantities of tattoos.
I think most HR pros would forgive one tattoo. Maybe even
But 16 tattoos, I think not.
HR will judge on the number of tattoos you have
as they think more tattoos equal addictive personality.
Yep, they will liken your taste in ink to someone who
Seems kind of crazy, but it’s as true as the day is long.
Even the most hard core HR pro
will “forgive” an indiscretion but more than five tattoos
is NOT an indiscretion.
It’s an addiction. Obligatory Charter message…
if you don’t get help at Charter please get help
somewhere. That just never gets old.
All four points above are important by themselves, but in
combination they can
either be compelling or career ending. Think: the eight
softball sized devils on both forearms
vs. the eight penny sized renditions of your grandparents
and great grandparents over your heart.
8 tattoos… HR thinks of that person differently. Are you
criminal or hopeless romantic?
I’ll leave you with these questions… either consciously
do you judge folks with tattoos? What does tattoo
acceptance (or lack thereof)
say about your company culture? Lastly, what about HR
pros who have tattoos,
what does that say about them and/or the organization
[Originally published on 1/17/2012 via Fistful of Talent]