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Small hand tattoos and careers

  1. Jan 20, 2017 #1

    I am wondering whether tattoos affect chances of jobs getting a phd, that sort of thing?

    I'm talking about more subtle small ones, i.e. rather than on top of the hand /fingers, on the under-side of fingers, or side of little finger or thumb

    I know the obvious answer is get them somewhere else etc. I'm not asking for that

    I'm asking for opinions from personal experience.

  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 20, 2017 #2
  4. Jan 20, 2017 #3
    under fingers, not forehead.
  5. Jan 21, 2017 #4


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    I doubt it would have any affect at all on whether or not you get accepted into a PhD program, and even less on whether or not you successfully complete the PhD. In most cases offers of admission are based on your application and extended before people in the department know what you look like. And universities tend to be rather open-minded places.

    That said, I'm sure you're already aware of how the world works and the potential biases that you'll encounter. You may encounter people who find such tattoos intimidating or disturbing and who won't want to work with you. In most cases you can shrug and say that's their loss, but academia tends to be a small numbers game.
  6. Jan 22, 2017 #5

    Fervent Freyja

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    I personally prefer to have my tattoos placed in areas that are usually covered by my clothing in work environments. There are many situations where visible face, hands, and arm tattoos will work against you. Small, simple, and discrete- there will be less regret that way.

    Anyway, finger tattoos aren't actually all that permanent, the cell turnover rate is so high there that I know many who have only been able to keep theirs for a few years before fading- the same goes for the bottom of the feet. If you really want to try it out, go ahead and get a small one on a finger. Like I said, they don't usually last in that location and can be easily removed at home with inexpensive kits.
  7. Jan 22, 2017 #6


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    Can they influence the hiring decision when interviewing for a job, absolutely. Different people have all sorts of random bias and tattoo'd folk aren't a protected class. No one will probably admit to not hiring you do to a tattoo, but it could happen.

    I personally don't like them, and think small "joke" tattoos like mustaches on the finger show a level of immaturity and wouldn't hire someone who had one. I also don't like small wrist tattoo's, seeing people who have them as highly influence-able by current fads, also would pass. In fact, I find tattoos on women a complete turn off, and believe it distracts from the natural beauty of the female form. I only say this, because somewhere out there in the world there is a HR guy doing interviews who feels the same way.

    Won't have any bearing on your ability to do a phd.
  8. Jan 22, 2017 #7


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    Where I have been, in the world of academic biology, they don't seem to matter much.
    I have found tattoos to be neither common nor uncommon. Maybe similar to piercings and guys with earrings.

    In fields dealing with the public (selling or marketing to biologists), I would guess they are much less common. I would think this is the choice of those hiring people for these jobs since they want to avoid making a bad first impression with the widest swath of the population.

    I think it would be good to avoid tattoos that could be offensive or are poorly done. Particularly in medical fields. Besides being ugly, they can be indicative of amateur tattooing which is associated (among medicals) with possible disease exposure.
  9. Jan 22, 2017 #8


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    A lot of people associate tattoos with gangs and being in prison. That may be wrong, but that's what a LOT of people think. So think about that. A lot of chefs have tattoos, and they got them when they were in gangs and in prison before they straightened up and got into cooking. Think about it. :biggrin:
  10. Jan 22, 2017 #9


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    I've encountered many young to middle-aged (40-60's) in the community at large, in my work environment (including national and international conferences), and in the workplace (most with MS or PhD degrees). I expect that most do not have criminal records, particularly those having to go through extensive background checks. It used to be just those who served in the military, but now it can be anyone. Of the folks I encounter frequently, women with tattoos outnumber men with tattoos. That also applies to piercings on the face (nose, lip, check, . . . ) and colored hair.

    I had a pierced ear during university (70s - 80s). I removed it prior to leaving grad school, and didn't bother to reinstate it.
  11. Jan 22, 2017 #10


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    It's clear to me that a lot of people have a misleading impression about people with tattoos. That being said, I tend to agree that highly visible tattoos (e.g. on the hands, neck, or face) could be problematic in a job interview setting (where first impressions matter). It has no bearing whatsoever on one's ability to complete graduate studies.

    I confess that I have a tattoo, but it is located in a part of the body easily hidden by clothing (no, I will not tell you where it is located). And no one will mistake this for a prison or gang tattoo -- it's an equation! :biggrin:
  12. Jan 22, 2017 #11


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    My older daughter got a tattoo on her shoulder, has to do with Harry Potter. Very pretty, can't be seen unless she's undressed.

    Just think twice about any tattoos or piercings that are in places that are in the open. You do not know how people will react and you cannot tell someone how they can react, that's up to them. You made a choice and they make a choice. Even.
  13. Dec 12, 2017 at 1:42 PM #12
  14. Dec 14, 2017 at 9:30 PM #13
    I saw a gal that had the below image tattoed behind her ear (she worked in a restaurant). I told her that it has been decades since I had organic chemistry and asked what the molecule was. She said the tattoo was LSD. Guess she was really moved by acid.

  15. Dec 15, 2017 at 9:53 AM #14


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    I'm impressed that she knew the molecular composition of LSD -- I wonder if she in fact had studied chemistry in university.

    (Yes, I admit it's possible she might have looked up the composition of it on Google, but maybe I just want to believe she was genuinely curious about the chemical characteristics of LSD)
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