In the 1950’s tattoos were sported by men who had served in the military during World War Two, returning with a ship’s anchor or an ode to Mother on their forearm.
Today, one in four people have colorful body art permanently applied to their skin surface, and odds are they are a millennial or younger. “A lot of millennials and people in their 30’s have much more tattoos or artwork,” says workplace culture expert and executive coach Jason Treu. He says how it impacts their employment prospects depends on the job position and the location of the tattoo. “I think it really depends on what business or organization you work in,” he suggests. The tech industry for example, which employs a lot of people 40 and under, doesn’t have much of an opinion on the matter. However a boss hiring for a high-profile position involving a lot of contact with the public might think twice.
Motivational expert Garrison Wynn says there is also a bit of ageism involved. “We allow for the age group. If someone comes in with a tattoo and they are 24 or 25 we seem to think that’s okay. If someone is 53 we seem to think that’s not okay,” he says. The trend became commonplace about five years ago, according to Wynn. He says it is rare today that hiring choices are made based on body art for positions that don’t involve extensive public interaction. “It’s not a deal-breaker, anymore,” he says.
And you need a good job to afford a good quality tattoo. The average cost is $322.