Can visible tattoos overshadow your skills and experience?

As more and more ink finds its way onto the hands, necks, and ankles of professionals, many have become inured to its presence in the workplace. But what about clients and potential employers?

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I’ve noticed several articles recently about how employers shouldn’t discriminate against job seekers with visible tattoos when it comes to hiring.

One article said the Civil Rights Act of 1964 should be expanded so that inked individuals are protected from workplace discrimination.

Huh? We inherit our race, gender and national origin at birth. The last time I checked, getting a tattoo is a choice.

Now before you go berserk and jump to the comments to rant about how you should be judged by your talent and skills, not your appearance, please let me explain.

Perceptions and first impressions

For the sake of clarity, visible tattoos are ones that you can’t hide—the ones climbing up your neck and chest or on your face and hands. I’m not referring to the ink that’s easily hidden by clothing or by rolling down your sleeves.

When it comes to first impressions, do you know how much your skills matter if you have visible ink?

I don’t. I do know that you can’t assume the tattoos won’t be distracting. More important, you can’t predict or control the biases and judgments that others may make about you.

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