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Does body art keep job seekers from their dream careers?

Are your future job prospects keeping you from getting the tattoo of your dreams? No need to hesitate: a new study shows that body art is no longer stopping job seekers from landing a career.

The researchers, from the University of Miami and the University of Western Australia, set out to find out how tattoos might affect getting a job. They found that body art doesn’t have much of an effect anymore – at least, not a negative one. In some competitive markets, it may even make job candidates stand out in a positive way.

“Our research surprisingly found no empirical evidence of employment, wage or earnings discrimination against people with various types of tattoos,” the researchers wrote in their study, published in the journal Human Relations. “In our sample … not only are the wages and annual earnings of tattooed employees in the United States statistically indistinguishable from the wages and annual earnings of employees without tattoos, but tattooed individuals are also just as likely, and in some instances even more likely, to gain employment.”

Even the U.S. military has begun allowing tattoos, with the Air Force allowing full sleeves – though in most cases, offensive body art is strictly forbidden and tattoos must be able to be hidden under uniforms.

The study authors began collecting information about how body art affects employers’ perceptions of employees in 2016. They found that, while past studies showed tattoos could negatively affect earnings and a candidate’s ability to get a job, that has radically changed. Now – at least in the United States – even visible tattoos aren’t linked to employment or wages.

“Hiring managers who continue to discriminate against job candidates with tattoos may be settling for a less-qualified pool of applicants,” lead author Michael French told the Economic Times. “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.”

By Kyla Cathey, staff writer

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