Your Career

Experts say there are 2 types of tattoos that are still a 'no-go' at work — and they're likely to outright disqualify you from some jobs

Business Insider US
An arm tattoo is okay. Forehead, not so much.
  • While ink is more mainstream than ever, face and neck tattoos are still no-gos at work. 
  • Hand tattoos are becoming accepted in the most progressive fields, like creative or tech industries.

Although it's still in your best interest to cover up your tattoos during the interview process, it's pretty unlikely that a "standard" body tattoo alone would disqualify you for the job.

It's also unlikely that ink would ruffle many feathers once you've already been hired, human resources consultant Laurie Ruettimann told Business Insider.

"Nobody gets fired for having a tattoo after you've accepted a job," Ruettimann said. "In most industries, your boss and colleagues will just shrug their shoulders and adapt to the way you look."

But there are two types of tattoos that aren't likely to fly: face and neck tattoos. Ruettimann said those tattoos will likely disqualify you from jobs where you'll be meeting clients in particular.

Marc Cenedella, founder and CEO of career website Ladders, agreed. "Face tattoos are almost always a non-starter outside of hourly work," he said.

Tattoos, in general, are becoming more mainstream.

But tattoos above the neckline retain a non-professional air. Anna Felicity Friedman, a scholar who runs the website Tattoo Historian, told The New York Times wrote in a recent article that face tattoos are gaining popularity among musicians because they're so shocking.

"If you want to be transgressive - and a lot of rappers want to create a transgressive character - the last frontier is the face," Friedman said. "Some of it is to give them a rebel/criminal allure. And some of it is a more artistic or free-spirit reference."

Less controversial, but still questionable, is the hand tattoo. Just like any other ink, how your coworkers perceive it depends on how progressive your industry is.

"At a law firm, people maybe will notice [a hand tattoo] more than at a tech firm where let's say nine out of 10 people already have tattoos," Vicki Salemi, a career expert at, told The Wall Street Journal.

Whether the ink is on your face or secreted away on your ankle, few executives nowadays are tattooed. It's important to keep any tattoos hidden when shooting for higher-up roles.

"The higher you go in your career the more scrutinised your appearance will be, regardless of industry," Cenedella said.

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