Tattoos in the Workplace: What Employers Are Willing to See

September 21, 2010

By Pierce Sharpe
VCU InSight

RICHMOND, VA – The art of tattooing has been gaining popularity among young adults, according to a recent Pew Research study, one in four 18- to 29-year-olds had a tattoo, and half those had more than one, but it’s often not the ink employers are looking for at a job interview.

“You don’t want a tattoo to be a distraction,” said Sue Story, Director of the University Career Center at Virginia Commonwealth University. “You have to be mindful of the kind of tattoo you’re getting.”

After a nationwide survey, Richmond was ranked the third most tattooed city in the U.S. but with unemployment rates among young adults higher than they’ve been in 30 years employers can afford to be picky.

Some Richmond retailers, like Ellwood Thompson’s Local Market
don’t have a problem with tattoos at all, “Your body is your body and
what you do to you body is up to you,” said Miles Quillin, the Director
of Media at Ellwood Thompson’s.

“As long as you’re a good worker and work well with others…then keep on ink it up,” he said.
personal career goals and deciding on a tattoo that can easily be
concealed are some tips Story gave, but not all business in Richmond
share the same policies, websites like provide a database of corporate dress code policies.

know a lot of students that have tattoos now but there are a lot of
businesses that might not care for that when you go for a job
interview,” Story said.

Richmond averages about 14.5 tattoo
shops per 100,000 people; there are five alone in Colonial Heights,
which has a population of just under 17,000.