Personal branding: Want a job? Get a tattoo (just not this tattoo)

Tattoos are the new normal, and they can even increase your chances of landing a job, but not all tattoos are created equal. Contrary to popular belief, sporting visible tattoos doesn’t negatively impact your job prospects or salary anymore, says a new study from the University of Miami.

Researchers surveyed over 2,000 subjects – with roughly half of the respondents coming from urban areas with a population over 1 million – for this study. They authors found that the perception of tattoos in the workplace has changed so much that even a visible tattoo is not linked to individual employment, wages, or earnings discrimination. Specifically, the study found wages and annual earnings of tattooed employees were statistically indistinguishable from those without them. In the hiring market, tattooed job seekers are also just as likely, and in some instances even more likely, to gain employment.

Previous research found that hiring managers widely perceived tattooed people as less employable than people without tattoos. This was especially the case for those with visible or even offensive tattoos that are difficult to conceal at work.

However, things have changed. according to the Pew Research Center, now about 20 per cent of all North American adults and 40 percent of millennials have tattoos.

“The popularity is forcing employers to accept tattoos,” study lead author, Professor Michael French said. “Tattoos are so common that if you disqualify candidates because of them, you’re going to be in a worse position because you’re missing out on talent.”

Tattoos can still be divisive. Some people hate them, others love them. (And some folks love them so much that they actually run out of places to put new ones.) The skincare company Zensa recently conducted a survey of people’s opinions about body ink. They asked over 1,000 participants whether or not a tattoo has changed their perception of how attractive someone is.

Twenty-six per cent of people found tattoos in general to be a turn-off, while the 74 per cent said they could find some one more attractive with a tattoo.

Participants rated the most attractive locations for tattoos on a scale of 1 to 5. For those interested in men, the most attractive spot for a tattoo was the upper arm at a 3.8. Those attracted to women saw a three-way tie between the upper back, shoulder, and the hips.

Those attracted to men and women did agree on the least attractive location in an almost unanimous fashion: the face. People were also significantly turned off by prison tats, cheap-looking drawings (or typos), and someone with a tattoo of their ex’s name on their skin. These people would be the perfect audience for Tattoo Removal companies, as at this point they will surely want to consider getting it professionaly removed.

Which brings us to the best and worst tattoos according to survey participants. The best would be an illustrative design, showing artistry and quality work, on the upper arm.

The worst tattoo would be a portrait of an ex boyfriend or girlfriend, with their name, on your face. Don’t do that. The only thing worse would be a tattoo of your ex’s face and name on your face with their name spelled wrong. (as we have said before – typos matter.)

In most public-facing roles and professional jobs, that would probably also hurt your career prospects.

You can view the complete survey results and infographic over at