Create Your Perfect Salon Team by Hiring Recent Graduates

By Jenny Hogan

What better place would there be to recruit your newest salon team members than from the top cosmetology schools? No employee is more fresh, motivated and ready to give their enthusiastic best than a recent graduate.

Your staff is your biggest investment and your most valuable asset. By taking the time to assemble the best possible team, you will ensure that your investment is sound and you will be rewarded with a smoothly running business for years to come.

Lauren Gartland, founder of Inspiring Champions, a business and coaching company, regularly advises clients on how to create the perfect dream team and shares her simple three-step process:

Step One ~ Envision Your Team

It is very important to first envision exactly what you want in a team member. Start by making a simple list. Make two columns side by side and in the first column, list everything you DON’T want in a team member. “Think about past employees who performed poorly,” Gartland advises. Were they consistently late, unreliable, negative, dishonest or gossipy? Write it down; soon smoke should start coming off your pencil.”

In the second column list everything you DO want. Think of team members past or present who you wish you could clone. What are their most valuable attributes? Being enthusiastic, politeness, being proactive, energetic and presenting a good image are some factors. “Do not leave anything out in either column. Then, once you have fully completed both lists, cross out the column with the attributes you don’t want,” Gartland emphasized. “Now, focus all your attention on the attributes you DO want. Whatever you focus on, good or bad, will expand and grow”

Next, create your Salon Vision Statement for your ideal salon team members. A few preliminary things to consider are how many people you want to hire and what the objectives of each position are. You will need a separate vision statement for each position you are filling. Think about what your expectations are and the qualities that these individuals will need to have for their respective jobs.

Now, take your list of positive employee attributes and expand on it. What are the key characteristics and traits your future team should have? List the four most important strengths and core values you are looking for. Think about how you will be able to recognize these traits in your future employees. Write out a few paragraphs describing your ideal team members. Date it with a realistic timeframe for finding and hiring.

As Gartland instructs, “Vision Statements are written in the present tense and are filled with details. Anything you leave out will be less likely for you to attract in your new salon and spa professionals.”

Step Two ~ Seek Them Out

Now, take those great expectations and create a “WOW” advertisement in your local newspapers, online or on beautycare websites as well as flyers to post at your local cosmetology schools. Make it so compelling and exciting that it drives people to you. Make it positive and list the benefits of working in your business. Use motivating headlines and sub-heads like: “Are you seeking a work environment you can soar in?” or “Are you seeking your dream job?”

In the ad, list at least four of the most important career attributes that you are seeking. Be creative, so it does not look like everyone else’s advertisement,” notes Gartland. Avoid making these common mistakes: Do not say you need someone “immediately,” as that denotes desperation. Only advertise one job even if you have more; it sounds needy and you can only hire one person at a time. Don’t go into unneeded detail in the advertisement; save this for the interview. Don’t word the ad with rigid requirements as you may repel even hard workers.

You should also visit each of the local cosmetology schools to personally meet some of their future graduates; share what you are looking for in new recruits and possibly even get a preview of their work. If you meet an upcoming graduate whose skills may be raw but who seems promising, remember some skills can be developed; more important is their attitude, willingness to learn and their people skills.

Perhaps your salon has a training program with internships for new stylists or you offer your clients separate pricing tiers for stylists with a range of experience levels.

Step Three ~ Interview Effectively

It is often difficult to make an accurate assessment of a potential team member after talking with them for only a short time. Gartland actually recommends having three interview sessions. “The first interview should be on basic topics, yet consist of meaningful, in-depth questions. The second should include details of your business, with facts like policies, procedures and compensation structures. The third should be a practical demonstration of their hairstyling skills, along with their client service skills.”

During the first interview, review their application form and have the candidate read a copy of your ideal team member vision statement. “Remember to ask probing questions during the interview,” noted Gartland, “which will significantly increase the odds of hiring the right person. This will give you the clarity needed to know if this person is the right fit for your team. Since the candidates will be recent graduates, form the questions around their current experience since they will not have had an actual salon job.”

Your recent graduates may not be able to supply traditional job references for you, but they can supply references from such people as teachers, guidance counselors, coaches, family friends or even clients from their cosmetology school workshops.

Before you begin, consider some of the basics about hiring. The candidate must have the image that you want your team to portray to the public. This is the best you will ever see him or her look! Watch for positive body language, openness and good eye contact. Your candidate should want to pursue a professional career, not just come to a job every day. If anything within you says that the applicant is not a good fit, do not proceed any further.

During the second interview, you should discuss your work culture and review all of the details about your business policies. The third will be the demonstration of their hairstyling or aesthetic skills and techniques, if you haven’t already seen them in practice at their school.

Start these steps today to invest in your salon by creating your ideal dream team. Including recent beauty school graduates on your team will ensure your business is complemented by young, vibrant minds with great creativity, high hopes and smiling faces.

For more information call 800-496-9305 or visit www.inspiringchampions.com. Inspiring Champions is a business and coaching company offering live training camps, coaching and mentoring services, webinars, audio tapes and educational resources.

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