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Ask HN: Is getting a visible tattoo a terrible idea?
9 points by t-row-a-way 990 days ago | 11 comments
I've done a bit of Googling, but I would like a more IT related response.

Does getting a visible tattoo (hand, lower arm, neck) mean curtains for your career? Does anyone have any anecdotal evidence for or against?

On a related note, is it bad form to get a visible tattoo while you are at a job (hired for 5-6 months now) without mentioning it first?




Like it or not, we live in a world where people judge one another on appearances. And naturally some of those people will be in charge of hiring you and advancing your career.

With that in mind, there are several ways that one can stack the deck against one's self. Morbid obesity, poor personal hygiene, vampire costumes, and, yes, visible tattoos can all serve the purpose of closing a door that might otherwise be open to you.

The questions you need to ask yourself are how important is it that all possible doors remain open, and whether you're in a position in life where the occasional closed door leading to an environment you don't want to inhabit might actually be a good thing.

And of course, the big question. Is there even the smallest possibility that several decades from now your life, values, opinions, career, etc. will have evolved to a place where you find it really really inconvenient to have a marker of the social situation and personal biases you happened to have at age 19 permanently stamped onto the back of your neck.

I certainly wouldn't want that guy in charge of my tattoos today.

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People in our industry occupy, how shall we put this, a broad range of the continuum of compliance with middle-class American values. You can find people with tattoos. You can find people who subscribe to religions which are, broadly speaking, against tattoos. You can find both of those people at the same table, talking about code.

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As an older guy with several visible tattoos, I'll chime in: "don't".

At some point soon, you'll mature and get older. And you'll realize that faded, unintelligible blob of ink really isn't that important to who you are.

And people will judge you. It hasn't really hurt me a whole lot in life, but I definitely had to jump over that initial hurdle of "I'm not a threat" again and again.

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If you're asking the question that means you have doubts, and a tattoo isn't the kind of thing you'd want to have a doubt about. Also keep in mind that tattoos go in and out of style, so what looks cool today may look like Popeye in twenty years.

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As a (mid 30s) guy with a lot of tattoos (sleeves, etc), it hasn't caused any issues for me. I have worked for the last 4 years in a relatively high end corporate IT environment, meeting with stakeholders, executives, etc and never had an issue. If anything, they've been more curious than offended/judgemental.

I make sure at all times i'm well groomed, dressed appropriately, etc though, so as not to try fall into any stereotypes about tattooed people in general (at least while at work!).

I think it depends entirely on your workplace, the kind of area your workplace is in (major city for me), your attitude, and how good you are at your job.

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I've seen a nice proportion of people in tech startups, etc with sleeves or similar compared to other professions (Typically less people than a representative portion of lead singers, but more than a similar sample of teachers). It doesn't seem to hold them back, and I plan to get (more of) my own in the future.

The view I take is if someone has such hostility towards my tattoos that we can't work together, we probably shouldn't be working together anyway. (Tattoos to me are representative of my life story and are given a lot of thought/designing)

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It's certainly not "curtains" for a career. It might lead to changing jobs. Then again, it might lead to getting promoted.

A few years ago, I showed up for an interview in a suit, tie, and wingtips. A coworker hired about the same time, showed up for his in tee-shirt, baggies, and Teva's.

He was a better fit for the corporate culture and stayed for seven years. I left after about a year.

On the other hand, in the US, either get it, or don't. Making a big deal and asking permission is a sign of weakness.

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Trying my best not to sound like a hipster, but tattoos are so mainstream today it is almost more impressive to me when someone doesn't have one at this point in time. Around here tattoo parlors pop up like Starbucks used to. They literally build across the street from each other. shrug

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It's a good filter for your career: you won't work with shitty people that doesn't respect each other.

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I have a huge tattoo on my arm.

I am happy and I consider myself successful.

It depends on what you mean when you say "curtains for your career" I would imagine.

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Hands, neck and face are still taboo, so I wouldn't recommend getting them unless you're already 100% 'proven' guy(the jobs hunt you, not the inverse)

I think all the rest, including lower arm are OK in IT generally as long as you care about your posture and presentation(don't forget to be good at what you do, of course)

I got my first visibly-visible one(on my pulse) 5-6 months in and nobody cared, I didn't ask for permission or mentioned it... I think it would be like going to the boss and asking if I should get my hair cut or not

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