Getting inked vs. getting interviewed

By Anna Yee

October 30, 2012 Updated Oct 31, 2012 at 10:00 AM CDT

PEORIA, Ill. -- Big or small, body art is usually about one thing:

"Expression. Things that are important to me. Things that have reminded me where I've been, where I am now, and where I want to be."

That's what tattoo client Adam White said.

White got his first tattoo at 18 years old, and almost 20 years later, that number has grown to too many to count in the time we had.

At first, he got them in places his clothing covered, but they eventually spread beyond his hem lines, a privilege White has, being his own employer.

But he's not like every employer.

"If you were to say 'Hey, so unforeseen happens. So you're a store owner now. What happens if you're not? Does that mean you're instantly hirable?' No, no I would not be," said White.

According to, many HR managers will hire the more clean-cut employee.

In fact, visible tattoos are one of the top physical attributes that could hinder getting a job or promotion.

But Doug Orear, the President of Peoria Manpower Inc., says that stigma is fading out.

"Ten thousand people a day turn 65," said Orear. "That means the people who currently hold a prejudice against body art aren't going to be around much longer. This continues to become a more acceptable situation as time goes on."

Tim Beck, the Freedom Ink Tattoo Company owner, says body art is becoming less taboo, thanks, in part, to popular TV shows.

"Back in the day, they used to tell you, 'You get one, and you're going to live with it,'" said Beck. "There wasn't removal or anything like that. Nowadays, it's a little too disposable."

A Pew Research study shows close to 40 percent of Americans ages 18 through 40 are tattooed, about four times higher than the "over 40-year-old" crowd.

Courtney Englund, 18, of Peoria, is getting inked for the first time.

"It's cool," said Englund. "I like it. (Do you ever think you'll regret it?) Yeah, for sure, but I don't really care right now."

His mother, Bridget Englund, came for moral support.

"I just was hesitant because of him getting a job or getting into school or military or anything," said Bridget Englund, "but at this age, he can get it if he wants to."

If you're considering getting inked, professional tattoo artists warn to stay away from certain areas, like your face, neck, and hands, if you're worried about potential employers.

But it all depends on the type of job you're hoping to get your hands on.

"If somebody has a tattoo on their hands, say a skull and crossbones," said Orear, "they might not be considered as a concierge, someone who's upfront with the public."

Experts say the best advice is to cover up tattoos when dressing for interviews and know the company's policy.

As long as an employer doesn't discriminate against your race, religion, age, and other factors, the company is legally allowed to hire or fire you, if your appearance doesn't follow the rules... A rule you may want to keep permanently etched inside your head.

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