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Do tattoos really stop people employing you?

Do tattoos really stop people employing you?

As a graduate in 2016, the job market can seem like a pretty daunting place. Especially if you’re going for a grad scheme, it can often feel like you’re battling against huge odds in order to get yourself a job offer.

There are plenty of reasons why you might not get the job, good and bad, but one terrible reason which might get in your way, is having a tattoo. Backward and antiquated it may be, but having a visible tattoo can actually worsen your employment prospects in 2016.

Although there are no statistics available for this, there are plenty of organisations who will actively discriminate against visible tattoos. If you want to be a primary school teacher, you will have to cover up any tattoos from the children, and in 2010, the Metropolitan Police Service banned its employees from having any visible tattoos, or they would face losing their jobs.


About 1 in 5 people have tattoos and they’re becoming more popular than ever.

ACAS (an organisation which resolves employment disputes), has recently issued guidance which urges employers to ‘carefully consider’ the reasons before imposing a blanket ban on visible tattoos in order to avoid discrimination.

Unfortunately, however, if you are rejected because of your tattoos, the law does not cover this kind of discrimination. According to the Guardian, the law on equality in the workplace does not protect people with tattoos, meaning that employers are within their rights to reject you on this basis.

There are plenty of jobs which wouldn’t discriminate against you: jobs in the creative industry such as the media sector for example, but if you’re wanting to go into something more corporate and traditional such as management consultancy, you might have a problem.


Rebecca Johnson, a managing consultant at the Graduate Recruitment Bureau explained why to the Guardian:

‘I think in the majority of cases and certainly in the more corporate world, if there were two candidates in the running for a job and there was absolutely no difference between the candidates’ skills/abilities, resulting in the choice purely being based on presentation, most employers would pick the candidate without tattoos. I believe this would be to limit potential offence made to their clients.’

Tattoos are being normalised

Obviously if the tattoo was of something really offensive, this would make sense, but with an increasing number of people getting inked and tattoos becoming far more normalised in our society, this discrimination seems out of step with the rest of 2016.


I spoke to Natalia Alyukova, recent graduate from the University of Birmingham about her experiences of employment with tattoos:

‘I have several tattoos and since leaving university have been employed by two different companies. Luckily, I worked in media/entertainment industries with casual dress code, so having tattoos didn’t have any effect on me getting the jobs, and many of my co-workers had tattoos that were visible, but the company policy was very tolerant towards any dressing styles and various forms of self-expression.

‘I don’t think having or not having tattoos has any connection to what an employer should be looking for in an employee. Unless you’re a skin model of some sort.’

Holly Smith Editor