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For Many, Removing Tattoos Means a Fresh Start at Getting a Job

Topics: Career Advice

Tattoos are pretty mainstream now. But some employers are more forgiving than others, and some tattoos are a tougher sell with hiring managers. While laser tattoo removal can be costly and time-consuming, thankfully there are many programs out there that are helping those hardest hit by pre-employment judgment: men and women in the U.S. prison system.

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Tattoo Removal Can Mean a Green Light on Jobs 

While some workplaces are easygoing when it comes to tattoos, some are tightening policies. In 2015, the U.S. Army changed its tattoo policies, then relaxed them based on feedback from troops. However, hand, face, and neck tattoos are still against the rules. Non-military workers find similar policies and/or biases in employers. This makes sense: while that back piece can be easily covered with a button-down, tats on hands or faces are harder to hide.

Tattoo removal programs help those with visible tattoos, whether it’s a holdover from a former gang life, a mistake made when they were too young to know better, or a mark from a past as a victim of human trafficking. Everyone deserves a clean slate.

Ex-Cons Already Deal With Stigmas

There’s no lack of articles talking about how ex-cons deal with the stigmas of being, well, ex-cons. At Forbes last year, Louis Efron wrote an article titled, Should You Hire an Ex-Con?, which dealt with the realities of hiring those who had been in prison before. He explored the fact that when ex-cons get meaningful employment, they find it easier to avoid being incarcerated again.

Efron also discussed his conversation with Arte Nathan, Chief Human Resources manager for Steve Wynn in Las Vegas, about the benefits of hiring those with a criminal record. With no lack of applications, Nathan initiated some recruitment strategies that included hiring ex-cons to create a meaningful second chance for those men and women. You can hear Nathan’s full story in his TedX Talk.

Tattoo Removal Programs Are Sprouting Up Everywhere

There are loads of programs geared towards providing free tattoo removal across the country, like Jails to Jobs and Fresh Start. The Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department has grown their free tattoo removal program over the years, and it’s only increased in popularity with inmates.

LASD notes that some inmates with tattoos were only in their early teens when they got what they consider now to be unfortunate ink. Some have tattoos on their face or hands that impact employment changes, or tattoos that link them to gangs that they’d rather leave in the past.

Even if clients aren’t in prison long enough to get a full course of treatment (which can take up to 12 sessions), they can pair with Homeboy Industries, which works with former gang members. In the Sheriff Department’s tally from just the first half of 2015, they’d already treated 774 inmates with the program. They tout the removal program, “along with [the Education Based Incarceration Unit’s] academic, vocational and life-skills training, stands as one of the Department’s most powerful means of helping inmates secure employment, gain community acceptance, and thus reduce their likelihood of recidivating.”

Tell Us What You Think

Have you undergone tattoo removal to increase your chances of getting a job? We want to hear from you. Tell us your thoughts in the comments or join the conversation on Twitter.

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Jennifer Murphy
Jennifer Murphy

Thank you for this article! People have different perspectives in life, some people thinks that tattoos are for the bad people or for the ex cons and gangster while other people see the tattoo as a way of expressing themselves through body painting/tattoo. Though there is nothing really wrong of getting a tattoo, but if a person wants to pursue a great career , having a tattoo will be a hindrance because most people’s first impression if people has a… Read more »

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