Looking for work? A tattoo could help you, study suggests

MIAMI — It’s no longer taboo to have a tattoo. More companies are shedding their prejudice against employees and job candidates coming in with tattoos, a smart move that’s giving them a competitive edge over offices that still discriminate, a new study finds.

Researchers from the University of Miami and the University of Western Australia say that not only are tattoos becoming more common — 40 percent of millennials have gotten inked — but their study shows that even visible tattoos don’t have any effect on job prospects, income, or advancement. In some cases, the researchers found, tattoos can be an advantage.

The researchers surveyed more than 2,000 participants from across all 50 states during the summer of 2016. About half of the respondents came from dense, urban areas with booming populations. When comparing salaries and wages of tattooed workers versus ink-free participants, they found annual earnings to be “statistically indistinguishable.” In fact, they determined that people with tattoos were more likely to be hired by companies in some cases.

Lead author Michael French, a professor of health economics at Miami, explains that hiring managers could be limiting themselves and settling for less-qualified workers when they discriminate against candidates with tattoos.

“The long-held stigmas associated with having tattoos, and particularly visible ones, may be eroding, especially among younger individuals who view body art as a natural and common form of personal expression,” French says in a university release. “Given the increasing prevalence of tattoos in society —around 40 percent for young adults — hiring managers and supervisors who discriminate against tattooed workers will likely find themselves at a competitive disadvantage for the most qualified employees.”

The survey represents a drastic change from previous research, which found a negative effect on job prospects and wages for those with tattoos, especially visible ones.

About 20 percent of all American adults now sport tattoos, according to the Pew Research Center.

The full study was published August 7, 2018 in the journal Human Relations.