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Job Candidates With Body Art: Hire Or Not?

The US Army is getting more recruits with tattoos [1]. And so are you.

One third of the population 18 to 29 has a tattoo. Your Business Blogger is outside this age range and our five-kid penta-posse has not yet demanded needles with ink. But this is an exploding trend that will affect small business hiring.

Here I will review only the deliberate body modifications. Not the accidental. (Scars are tattoos with better stories. [2])

We just hired a half-dozen employees. Not one of the attractive young women had any body art. That I noticed. Not that I was looking [3].

My concern is less with my outdated preferences than that potential candidates knew my preferences. If I control cutting the check, I’ll control the body cutting. I’d like some input in what peeps I be hangin’ wit’.

I prefer non-smokers with no (visible) body art and conjugated verbs.

Job seekers must remember that symmetry and chemistry between interview-er and interview-ee is what gets hired. It is not fair. But remember, I’m writing the check.



So tattoos and other self-mutilations are not for me. And it’s not likely that I would hire such decorations. But one of my managers with hiring authority might. One of my clients might. But not me.

And I’m not the only fuddy-duddie. The Vault reports,

Companies with dress and grooming codes are on the strongest legal grounds when they defend their policies based on legitimate business reasons.

At Starbucks, “baristas” who serve the $5 lattes can’t display any tattoos or wear any piercing jewelry besides small, matched pair earrings. Each ear can’t have more than two piercings. Serving upscale coffee demands upscale workers, according to Starbucks, and tattoos don’t fit that scheme.

So what’s right? What’s wrong with tattoos?

Sometime ago I questioned my rabbi, Daniel Lapin, on the issue of tattoos. Yes, I’m Presbyterian who sits at the feet of the JollyBogger [4]. But everyone also needs a rabbi; a teacher. The coach doesn’t have to be faith-based. But the ‘donations’ can be tax deductible…

My Rabbi said that ancient Jewish tradition held that a person’s body does not belong to him — it belongs to the Creator and we borrow this earthly vessel for a while. Which is why the tattooing of identification numbers during the Holocaust was so humiliating to the Jews.



So if I interview you, or some other old coot interviews you, don’t tell us about your tattoos. It is not part of the job description.

You will be hired for your wisdom and your judgment [5].