In the quest for employment, sometimes the reasons for rejection aren’t clear-cut. Ash Putnam, a 23-year-old with a noticeable tattoo collection, recently voiced her frustration on TikTok after being turned down for a job at TJ Maxx.

Her video struck a chord, garnering over seven million views and sparking tens of thousands of comments. Many resonated with her experience, highlighting the challenges young people face in securing entry-level positions.

Putnam shared that she applied for a job at TJ Maxx but received a disheartening rejection via email, without any personal follow-up. Dissatisfied, she visited the store seeking clarity from the employees.

“I went in today and asked, ‘Why didn’t I get hired?’ The employee said, ‘You don’t have enough experience. There were other candidates with more experience,’” Putnam recounted on TikTok.


I want to know who is also having a hard time finding a job right now! #jobs #jobmarket

♬ original sound – Ash🖤

She also inquired about her tattoos, a potential factor often scrutinized in customer-facing roles. While the employee denied this as the reason, Putnam remained skeptical.

“Just because I have tattoos doesn’t mean I won’t be a good worker. I don’t understand that at all,” she remarked. “Some of the smartest people I know have tattoos and piercings.”

Putnam’s story ignited a broader conversation about appearance bias in hiring practices. Despite not receiving a definitive answer from TJ Maxx, TikTok users speculated on the role her tattoos might have played in the decision.

“Being a tattoo artist myself, I’d say it’s probably because of the tattoos,” one comment read.

Another, from a human resources perspective, stated, “No company wants employees with visible tattoos interacting with customers, like TJ Maxx.”

Reflecting on her experience, a former TJ Maxx employee added, “I used to work there, and they hire almost anyone off the street. It’s definitely because of the tattoos and piercings.”

Amidst these speculations, Putnam acknowledged the harsh criticism she received online regarding her tattoos.

“I really think it’s because of my tattoos, as many comments say my tattoos are scary and demonic to some people,” she shared with the Daily Star. “People say I should work at a circus or Halloween store.”

Despite the negativity, Putnam believes it’s time for companies to reconsider their stance on visible tattoos and unconventional appearances in the workplace.

“If they judge based on tattoos, they’re missing out. Tattoos, piercings, and colored hair aren’t unprofessional. They showcase creativity and individuality,” she emphasized. “It’s 2024—attitudes towards tattoos need to evolve.”

As discussions on social media continue to unfold, Ash Putnam’s story underscores the ongoing challenges faced by job seekers and the need for inclusive hiring practices in today’s workforce.

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