Think that tiny heart tattoo on your hand has no effect on your career? Think again. A study out of the United States shows tattoo removal in that country is up 32 per cent in the last year. And employment reasons are the new leading factor driving demand.
The Patient's Guide, a site that houses 25 niche publications dedicated to skin care, surveyed 700 tattoo removal clients and their reasons for having the procedure done. Forty per cent of those surveyed cited "Employment Reasons" as their primary motivation, followed by "Name of Ex Partner/Spouse."
"It would appear that the economy is driving patients to seek laser treatment that may have otherwise not been interested in doing so," Dr. Eric Bernstein, an associate clinical professor at University of Pennsylvania, tells the The Patient's Guide.
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But here in Canada, tattoo removal clinics don't appear to be noticing the same trend.
"Do we see people who want them removed for professional reasons? Yes, all the time," says Mike McLaine, owner of Precision Laser Tattoo Removal in Toronto. "Whether or not I've seen a surge in that recently … I guess I'd have to say no. Not really a surge, just a fairly regular stream. "
Shane Bolton owner of Fading Fast Laser Tattoo Removal in Toronto agrees. He says that while many of his clients are having tattoos removed for professional reasons, he hasn't noticed a surge in unemployed clients who might be looking to gain an edge in job interviews. He says most who are having it done for career advancement are trying to shed their youthful, rebellious image.
"Now they're getting to an older age where they're kind of going, 'ok you know what? I need to move up the ladder and this tattoo on my neck is not really going to work out,'" he says.
The cost, he points out, can be prohibitive for an unemployed person on a fixed income. Tattoo removal can take anywhere from six to ten sessions and can cost up to $200 per session.
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Mark Franklin, president of CareerCycles career counselling centre, says he has never seen a client with a tattoo so outrageous he's felt it would hold them back professionally, but he does remind job seekers that employers will be looking at the whole person and that includes their digital footprint, how they communicate verbally and in writing and their appearance.
"Certainly I've heard from recruiters … that they're wanting candidates to have a professional demeanor and that comes through in everything," he says. "It's how they speak, their email correspondence, and then how they appear. That includes clothing — and tattoos would fall into that."