Having a visible tattoo can be an advantage for job seekers in some kinds of employment such as bartending as managers believe that body ink may attract younger customers and convey a positive image for the organisation, new study has claimed.
In the study, Andrew Timming from University of St Andrews in the UK found that managers were more likely to select applicants with a tattoo on their face for a hypothetical job as bartender in a nightclub.
The research suggested that some managers think tattoos on staff can “positively convey an organisation’s image”.
Scientists showed that 192 people with managerial experience two versions of people’s faces, one with a tattoo added to the neck using image software, one without.
The managers were asked to imagine they were recruiting a bartender and to rate the faces on a scale of one to seven. They gave the same face a higher score, 5.07 on average, when it was tattooed than when it was not, 4.38. The approval rating was higher for women with a tattoo: 5.14, compared to 4.51 for women without a tattoo.
When considering the person for a hypothetical role as a waiter in an upmarket restaurant, where the customers would be older, managers rated the tattooed version of the face lower: 3.38 on average, compared with 4.67 without a tattoo.
Timming said that the managers believed that having a bartender with a tattoo would attract younger customers who thought body art was trendy.
“Visibly tattooed job applicants can present as attractive candidates in the labour market because they can help to positively convey an organisation’s image or brand, particularly in firms that seek to target a younger, edgier demographic of customer,” Timming said.
Tattoos, especially in pop culture industries such as fashion retail, are an effective marketing and branding tool. “Body art can be seen as an asset in the labour market, as long as an applicant’s tattoos are compatible with the organisation’s wider brand personality,” he said.
“This argument is compatible with anecdotal evidence that there has been, in recent decades, what might be called a ‘tattoo renaissance’ in which body art has figured more positively in mainstream society and popular culture.
“Previous research has focused on the negative effects of tattoos on one’s employment chances, but the idea that body art can improve job prospects has, until now, been largely neglected,” Timming said.
He also interviewed two managers of a skateboard firm and a chain of trendy pubs, who said tattooed staff would be seen positively by their younger customers.
One manager at the pub chain said that the company paid for some staff to have tattoos as a performance-related incentive.
Managers and their customers told Timming that certain types of tattoos would be unacceptable, including sexual images, those supporting fascism or Satanism, and ones that were sectarian, misogynistic or related to drink or drugs.