As a creative and free-spirited bunch at Euroffice, we talk about living on the edge – doing bungee jumps, diving with sharks, wearing socks with sandals. This time the conversation was about tattoos and whether they are OK in the office.
Someone sent me an article saying tattoos were becoming more acceptable in the American workplace. While I don’t have one, I’ve been reading about the culture for a while. Actually, a constant theme I’ve found is that visible tattoos (ones that can’t be covered by shirt sleeves or collars) can affect your chance of getting a professional job or being promoted. By that measure, having a tattoo isn’t a good idea. But then I had a thought:
What if employers treated tattoos like CVs?
Let’s flip the script. Tattoos are incredibly popular. They are everywhere, on people of all ages. So turn them to your advantage.
Why not treat them like little bundles of information? You know, a bit like how someone’s bookshelves give you an insight into their interests and attitudes. What imagery or concepts do they value? Are they interested in what’s hot now, or do they look beyond public opinion? Are they willing to invest time and effort in something?
Candidtate 1… comes in for an interview. They have a tattoo. It’s of some Internet ‘thing’ that was popular on YouTube and did the rounds over email a while back. The tattoo is OK, but not great. It’s got some lettering in a style that’s in fashion at the moment. The person is affable and qualified. They say they thought the Internet thing was funny and got the tattoo because they fancied it one day. They went to the closest shop.
Candidate 2… They’re also tattooed. It’s not something you recognise, but it’s beautifully done. Clearly the artist was very talented. This one has lettering, but not the same type as before (though it works aesthetically). The person is affable and qualified. They explain what the tattoo is and why they got it. They spent a long time finding the right artist and they actually had to save up because it was so expensive.
I’m going to make a huge assumption and hire the second person. Why? Because they researched, waited and invested. They took the long view and committed to a good piece of work. They paid attention to detail. Or would you want the first candidate? Yes, impulsivity can be useful in business – but that chap clearly wasn’t a forward thinker. In this scenario a tattoo would tell you so much more than just a CV or an interview. Having something on your skin forever – that’s a big deal.
Now, are you thinking about getting a tatt? Cool your jets and try living with it for a while first. People have found that using a Sharpie marker, along with hairspray and baby powder, allows them to create temporary tattoos that last a month. (Not that I’d recommend such alchemy.) Even if you got your design done in henna, you could still spend a few days living with the reality of the design and seeing how people react to it. Tattoos should be celebrated, not regretted.
To keep yourself occupied as the Sharpie ink dries, check out some of these VICE interviews with tattoo artists. I’ve watched all of them and find them fascinating. They can be a little bit sweary and adult, but this trailer for the series is safe to watch.