‘No visible tattoos’ must adapt

As more millennials get tattoos, employers should reconsider their policies on body art.

Alia Jeraj

I first stepped into a tattoo and piercing parlor at age 16. My mom accompanied me, as did a mix of apprehension and excitement about the needle that would be making a small hole in my left nostril. Since that day, I have become familiar with the shop, adding more holes to my face and some splashes of black and green ink to my skin. 
 
I chose the inner edge of my right foot for my first permanent piece of body art. My mother was “mildly horrified,” 
as she recalls. Her primary objection: “That’s going to be difficult to cover up at work.” 
 
It was my 18th birthday, and I was accepting nothing but positive vibes on that day. However, as I look forward to graduating, the idea of what’s accepted as “professional” is difficult to escape. 
 
I, however, am not alone. About 40 percent of millennials sport tattoos. With this influx of tattooed, career-ready people, employers must begin to take a different approach to body art. 
 
Though attitudes toward tattoos are shifting, there are still multitudes of companies that uphold the “no visible tattoos” policy, from retail shops to school districts and government agencies. 
 
Tattooing is an ancient practice that demonstrates passion and commitment with more fervor than many marriage vows. Employers must open both their minds and their job listings to tattoos — or else limit themselves to an applicant pool 60 percent the size of its potential.