A study finds that tattooed employees can improve your company’s image

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(This post originally appeared on The Washington Post)

Are you less inclined to hire people because they have a few tattoos?  You may be hurting your business. At least that’s what a new study found.

As reported by the Daily Mail, researchers at the University of St. Andrews asked 192 people in the U.S. and U.K. with managerial experience to rate images of people both with and without tattoos, using photos from a public image database. Some of the photos were altered to include star-shaped tattoos on their necks and were presented as part of a hypothetical recruitment scenario looking for either a bartender at a nightclub or a waiter at an upscale restaurant.

For those looking for bartenders, more managers chose tattooed employees. The result was reversed for waiters. Why? It seems the bartending job is geared towards establishments trying to attract a younger crowd, whereas waiters at upscale restaurants are serving an older group of customers. From this, the researchers concluded that, depending on the company’s clientele, having tattoos can enhance an organization’s image. The effect was even more pronounced for female candidates. Not surprisingly, offensive tattoos were across the board considered to be a no-no by the study’s participants.

“Body art can be seen as an asset in the labor market, as long as an applicant’s tattoos are compatible with the organization’s wider brand personality,” Andrew Timming of the University of St. Andrews told the Daily Mail.

Of course, if you’re running an accounting firm or another similar conservative business you’ll likely (and understandably) be inclined to stay away from tattooed candidates. But, depending on the types of customers you have (or the ones you want to attract), a tattooed employee may bring an extra bit of value.

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