I am permanently branded a southerner thanks to my new tattoo, just inked this weekend. In case you aren’t so good with state shapes, that’s the state of Tennessee. It represents a few of the hardest years of my life, and I say that without any exaggeration. While I don’t mind getting personal on this blog I do not want to recount all the ways these years have tried every fiber of my being but I will tell you this is my favorite tattoo. The half rest in the middle is an ode to the soundtrack that helped me get through, and my pup who has an ear that stands up in the same shape. Yeah, I’m that lesbian. See, that dog has also taught me a lot about patience and love, just to start.
But new tattoos always make people want another one. I’m not sure why there’s such a strange phenomena, bordering on addiction, for people who get tattoos. I feel it too, as this tattoo has me thinking about my next one and what I might want. See, there has been a rather large tattoo I’ve wanted on my forearm for more than two years now. Every time I’ve thought about getting it, I talked myself out of it for one reason or another. First, I told myself I would have to meet the right artist so rather than seeking people out, I started following tattoo artists on Instagram. While I’m now following at least 30 tattoo artists on Instagram, I haven’t reached out to even one to actually pursue getting this piece.
Then, I told myself I wouldn’t do it until I knew what I wanted to be when I grow up. Well, I officially decided that I don’t want to be an employee for some Fortune 1000. I have no interest in working for “the man” again. I want to consult those teams on better marketing and recruiting efforts from the outside, then live to speak and write about it.
Which means I have a dream… and I finally ran out of excuses to stop me from getting the tattoo.
My logic on that job search comes from the fact that there’s a perception that tattoos and big corporations just don’t go together. While I was still considering a role like that, I thought it was smart to hold off. Just a few years ago, it seemed impossible that a business leader could have tattoos all over their body but as the definition of a CEO and their image evolves, thanks mostly to Silicon Valley leaders, I believe that eventually everyone on the C-suite is going to have a little ink, if not an entire sleeve. It turns out that almost 70% of millennials report having tattoos somewhere on their body, albeit most are hidden by clothing – a sure sign that tattoos are quickly becoming mainstream. Hell, I know women over 60 who are getting new tattoos.
While I think there are certain areas of your body that make you look like a criminal and certain artwork that definitely make you look like a criminal in general (any knuckle tattoos or tears on your face, for instance), tattoos don’t have the same reputation that they used to. Instead of being perceived as pirates and thieves, tattooed employees now represent expression and creativity.
At least the good ones. That Winnie the Pooh on your bicep – not so much.
Of course, some companies still have policies against tattoos and you probably shouldn’t get a tattoo anywhere that’s easily visible in your normal clothing until you’ve considered what your big kid job will be. You can be fired for tattoos, unfortunately. Apparently it’s against moral codes at some companies. You can find a comprehensive list of big companies with no visible tattoo policies here.
For those HR ladies out there – maybe it’s time to reconsider your ink policy. Times are changing.
Katrina Kibben is the Founder and Principal Consultant of Three Ears Media. For most of Katrina’s career, she has been a marketer living in a recruiter’s world – listening to both sides of the talent equation to understand the real issues and find solutions for engaging and hiring better people. Today, she uses her technical marketing know-how and way with words to help both established and emerging brands develop and deliver content that fuels smart recruitment marketing that makes the right people apply.
Katrina has written for Monster.com, HR.com, RecruitingDaily and many other digital publications. She is a recognized leader in recruiting and employer branding who speaks regularly at conferences around the world.