10 Tattoos to Skip If You Want a 'Real' Job


Hello Kitty TattooThe tattoo that made your grandmother shake her head and cluck has gone mainstream. Which isn't the same as saying it's hunky dory on the job scene.

The American Academy of Dermatology estimates 25 percent of Americans of working age (18 to 50) have been inked. Now let's square that with a 9.5 percent unemployment rate and a Vault.com survey that says 85 percent of workers say tattoos and body piercings hinder your chances of getting a job.

So let's talk foresight, shall we? No matter how drunk you get, these tattoos are NEVER a good idea:

1. Teardrops on the Face. Our apologies to Lil Wayne, but it doesn't matter what the teardrops mean to you (a murder? a loss?), they're considered gang- or prison-related and have no place in the workplace. 

2. Neck Tattoos That Resemble Hickeys. If you've seen Britney Spears' most recent tattooing, you'll be relieved to hear they're fake ... and you ought to take her bad example to heart. The butterflies on her neck look more like hickeys than they do the fluttery favorite of little girls everywhere.

3. Curse Words. The f on one knuckle followed by the u, the c, and the k does not impress anyone. Anywhere. Cross your name off the corporate law firm's list AND McDonald's drive-thru while you're at it.

4. Swastikas Anywhere. Turns out the neo Nazi clubs don't really hire headhunters.

5. Sleeve Tattoos. They can be incredible, it's true. But they certainly put a damper on the cocktail wear requirement for the office Christmas party.

6. Your Name. Employers are looking for the best and the brightest to lead their company onward and upward (any more cliches handy? We'll take 'em). If they're afraid you won't be able to remember your name without a tag, you're not going to get called back.

7. Southern Flag. Sure, it's about heritage, not hate. But you're not going to be able to explain that to everyone who walks into the law firm ... and turns around and walks out.

8. Cartoon Characters. Do you want to learn you've got lung cancer from a doctor while Bugs Bunny stares at you from her wrist? It's hard to take an adult seriously who is that "into" a cartoon.

9. Misspelled Tattoos. See above "best and brightest." If you can't even get your body-branding right, chances are you'll be sending out memos that ask "Evrywon com two the confrance rum."

10. Shh on Your Finger. It's trendy. And obnoxious. Not the message you want to send to the client who you've just promised you'll bend over backwards for.

What tattoos make you shake your head?

Images via nieve44/La Luz/Flickr

body image, bad habits


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Kelle... KelleyP77

This made me giggle, but it's very good advice. I have and love tattoos, but I definitely think there should be a LOT of thought put into what someone gets and exactly where they get it. And a huge thumbs up about #9. A friend of mine back in the day got the Red Dog beer logo on his shoulder. It reads, "Let Your Tounge Hang Out." The tattoo artist misspelled tongue. LOL

knfisch knfisch

My high school bf's dad got her moms kiss tattooed on his neck. She put on lipstick and kissed a paper and he took it into the shop and had it put on his neck. I loved it, I thought it was sweet. But he is also on disability so I suppose he's not too worried about getting a job lol!

RanaA... RanaAurora

Some sleeves (and some jobs) honestly are okay. Heck, look at Michele's tattoos! :)

But the rest? Yeah. I love my friends, but some of them have the stupidest tattoos that they WILL regret in 5, 10, 30 years...

hotic... hoticedcoffee

Visible tats have NO place in the business world.  Fair or not, that's pretty much the way it usually is - so depending on what you want to do with your life, location may be more important than subject matter.   While you certainly *can* get hired with an ankle, wrist or other difficult to hide location, it definitely limits your prospects in the 9-5 sector.


Cafe... Cafe MicheleZ

My friend is a high school History teacher and fully covered with tattoos except for from his elbows down. His upper arm, chest, back, legs -- covered in tattoos. He is one of the best teachers in that school (if not THE best) and he is highly regarded by staff and students. His choice of getting tattoos doesn't affect his ability to do his job. And yes, he had all the tattoos before he became a teacher.

TLParker TLParker

Obviously racist tattoos are not funny, nor should be tolerated at place but I don't see the big deal about tattoos in the work place. I have 6 and they have never been an issue. 2 are on my left wrist, 2 below each of my collar bones & 2 on the back of my neck. Tattoos don't determine how well someone can or cannot do their job.

Megan... MeganVanSchaick

I have half-sleeves on both arms and have never once had difficulty getting a job. Granted, I work in a "creative" industry, but even the three major corporations (including one heavy-duty finance company) who hired me didn't blink an eye. I've always been highly regarded in my profession and highly recommended. But I'll give you the others - jobwreckers (neck tattoos) are usually out.

nonmember avatar Allboys

For the love of bob teach your children that if they want to be successful in the business world DO NOT GUAGE YOUR FACE. That's all.


I don't really shake my head at anyone's tattoos.  I like seeing them and talking to people about what they mean to them. 

Ultra_ Ultra_

HA! I love this article and agree with all the things listed.

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