Thinking of Getting A Tattoo? Here’s Why You May Need to Think Twice If You Are a Young Job Seeker (not only in Malaysia!)

Let’s face it – first impressions make or break any job applicants’ chances of securing a job, be it in Malaysia or across the globe. Although a small number of Malaysians have tattoos, 7% of those polled under a survey conducted by YouGov Omnibus published in The Star, revealed that 58% of Malaysians (employers included) would be less likely to hire someone with a tattoo even if they were qualified for the position. Only around 37% said that a candidate’s tattoo would not affect their decision to hire and only 5% with a tendency to hire a person despite their body art.  

In a nutshell, two in five individuals surveyed said people with tattoos leave a negative impression. In fact, YouGov Omnibus Asia-Pacific chief Jake Gammon said– “Not only do tattooed people leave a bad impression on a significant proportion of Malaysians, they also affect employability”. 

What’s the fuss about tattoos in the workplace? 

Generally, the sight of a tattoo is still frowned upon in the corporate world and typically client-facing industries, such as recruitment, consultancy and even the legal profession. However, creative industries such as advertising and media tend to view job seekers with tattoos in a better light as being ‘trendy’. 

Types of tattoos that are a definite ‘no-no’ at the workplace

Although tattoos are common nowadays, the survey by YouGov Omnibus revealed that 80% of people with face tattoos are least likely to land a job. Another type of tattoo likely to raise the red flag during an interview are neck tattoos – unless, of course, you are an up and coming rapper trying to make it big in the music industry with your transgressive allure! 

Vulgar or offensive tattoos are also a no-go for interviews. Why? Simply because it is a bad practice to swear in interviews and this equally applies to those attending an interview with visible vulgar/offensive tattoos 

What I can do if I have (or want to get) a tattoo?

According to Graduate Recruitment Bureau (GRB-UK)Marketing Director and Co-Founder, Dan Hawes, as reported in The Guardianundergraduates should “really consider how their personal adornment choices might be perceived by potential employers when they come to start looking at graduate employment opportunities attitudes are changing, but rightly or wrongly, some peoples’ personal opinions are old fashioned.” 

Whether you have a small tattoo on your ankle or a visible one on your arm, it is generally advisable to keep it hidden especially when you are attending interviews. According to Marc Cenedella, founder and CEO of US career website Ladders in an article for The Business Insiderrecommends that this equally applies to those looking to move up in their career, “the higher you go in your career, the more scrutinised your appearance will be, regardless of industry”. 


By Archana Patrick