‘Personal branding’: Tattoos in the workplace

Many millennials have tattoos, but some executives and hiring managers might find them unseemly for communications professionals, regardless of age or the changing times.

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According to a 2010 Pew Research Center study titled Millennials: A Portrait of Generation Next, 38 percent of millennials (ages 18-29) have at least one tattoo. What millennials fail to remember, however, is that although they have the right to express their personal identity, the people hiring them are often from a different generation, and they might feel tattoos are socially unacceptable in the workplace.

In an interview with Mark Brenner, senior vice president of external affairs for Apollo Group, a Fortune 500 company, the conversation turned to hiring millennials and how tattoos factor into the process. “Depending on if they are visible or offensive in nature, [tattoos] have an impact on professionalism,” he says. Brenner explains that if you are a representative of a company, distracting tattoos can make that company seem less professional.

Retired Army Col. Garland Williams has seen many in the military with tattoos. “In the service,” he says, “the tattoo cannot be above the collar or visible in Army attire… If they are, they have to be removed.”

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