Receive career insights and advice to your inbox.

Major Credit Cards We Accept

September 20, 2007

Tattoo Regret – Tattooing Your Personal Brand

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, there is a great deal of Tattoo Regret among U.S. residents. Presumably, the AAD does not cover the parents, spouses, boyfriends, girlfriends and other friends of the tattooed. This supposedly covers the body politic of those who in some state of consciousness decided to get that really cool picture of Elvis or whatever.

In this recent CNN report and article, it shows a pharmaceutical representatative getting a tattoo removed. Laura Hathaway, the patient, describes the experience as more painful than actually receiving the tattoo. Now I don’t disparage Ms. Hathaway for getting the tattoo or the same removed but I would venture a guess there may have been more adrenaline or alcohol flowing when the decision was made to get the tattoo in the first place. I do remember my friends Dave Rocket, John Jeffire, Joe Scheffler and Corky Smith rolling out to Cleveland in high school and returning with mongooses and eagles on them. I don’t ever regret missing that trip. But Laura Hathaway like many others didn’t miss the trip to the tattoo artist.

Much to the chagrin of my fellow military friends and now the entire general populuation, it’s reported that new, removable tattoo ink will be available in the fall. So much for the multi-treatment laser procedure that hurts so much and takes so much time. But if you worry about physician’s income reduction – fear not – the world of what a great idea I thought that was at the time tattoos won’t fade away too quickly. The physician interviewed by CNN says that business is booming, that the practice sees more than 30 patients a day who want tattoos removed by laser. Sorry last boyfriend or girlfriend or really cool picture of that tiger. At least in most tattoo removal the physician cannot promise you won’t have a scar.

What does all of this have to do with your personal brand? Can’t you see? Let me illustrate my point by going beyond the seemingly but not so obvious points you might expect me to make. First, I acknowledge that tattoos and body piercing affect, effect and potentially infect that judgement of someone who sees them on you. It may hurt your career or mar someone’s first, second or third impression of you. If you must put your personal branding ahead of your true worklife goals and mission you have a problem. That seems to become more apparent the older and wiser you get.

Here’s my alert. Don’t sit back smug and say you don’t have to worry about your personal brand. You may not even have a tattoo or it’s well hidden. My warning is that you may be doing more damage to the body of your career by what your brand says about you on the web. In fact, my concerns with most people have to do with their digital tattoos and branding. Some folks don’t even know about their online brand. Many thousands now understand that your YouTube famous stupidity and FaceBook ridiculousness may have more permanence and may create more permanent damage to your career life than your worrisome Japanese or Chinese letters on your lower back (seen only when you half shirt it during Y workouts or on weekends).

But let’s quickly talk about the less obvious to some tattoo and personal branding problems. Take a quick look at your digital results, where you are on your own name’s Google Search results. The point really is that we have a generation of young people creating online personal tattoos that could have more negative impact on their careers and lives. We also have a generation gap of baby boomers who have not driven their personal brand to develop their worklife. In fact they ignore what they should do to create the right personal brand. To compete in today’s entrepreneurial or career focused marketplace each of us should take a hard look at what goes on our bodies. Dress, look and tattoos matter. But what may matter more is the tattoo permanence of our online and offline brand.

The scars may last longer and be more painful to remove.

It’s funny what you are asked to speak about by fellow Society of Human Resources Management Association fellow members. Depending upon the event or the subject, it seems that someone with a nice HR related or executive titles always seems to ask me to speak on subjects that they cannot or do not address easily at work. For some supervisors and hiring managers tattoos and body piercing seems to be an issue. It’s an issue they may have with their employees. At least these issues have some relationship to hiring others. So at career conferences, job fairs or other events my fellow career practitioners or human resources hiring decision-makers want me to cover this subject. So I am covering it here!

For my SHRM friends, remember that personal brands matter and the ink is now available for you and your employees to develop their personal brands properly.I tell our clients the same thing that the CNN article covers. In the article, the physician expects to see a variety of patients going through long sessions to remove reminders of their past. For the pharmaceutical representative, it’s stated that her tattoo of a flower didn’t fit the image she wants to portray. She says she got the tattoo long before low-rise pants became popular. “It’s just something I wanted to be private and now it’s not.” 

Neither is your online brand.

CareerPro Inc. is affiliated in good standing with the following organizations:

  • Affiliate of Society for Human Resource Management
  • Reach Certified Strategist
  • Association of Career Professionals
  • Career Directors International
  • Triangle Business Alliance
  • Certified Professional Resume Writer
  • Certified Federal Job Search Trainer
  • Career Management Alliance
  • Better Business Bureau
  • NC Veterans Business Association
  • NC Veterans Business Association