A Different Recruiting Strategy For Salon Owners

December 16, 2015

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Reading Time: 4 minutes


Cosmetology schools are for learning.  So, we teach.



Historically, we have found that recruiting and hiring from cosmetology schools has always produced some of the most loyal and best stylists that we have on our team today.   Now, that’s not to say that we refuse to hire experienced stylists.   Some of our best team leads and stylists happen to be recruits that we hired with experience.   Heck, one of my Salon Directors came to us with over 20 years experience working behind the chair, and she’s amazing!   But over time, when you look at the numbers, our recruiting success shows that hiring recent graduates has always proven to be more successful.   We attribute that success to a few known factors:


1) Students are more “malleable”.   They’re like sponges, soaking up everything.  There’s virtually no un-training bad habits and re-training good habits.   Combine this with a strong training program and you end up with a team of stylists delivering services with more consistency while outpacing the competition down the street.


2) Students tend to be more loyal.  After all, you saw something in them before they really had any experience at all.   Because you believed in them from the beginning, they tend to have a special attachment to you and your brand that outlasts someone that comes into your culture with experience.


3) Students tend to be more open and receptive to new ideas, innovative approaches, and smarter ways to do things.  The secret is to get into the schools and teach them how they can become successful in your salon, how you do things differently (better), and most importantly how they can have a career (not just a job) and work with purpose in your culture.


Now, as with everything, there are definite downsides to recruiting team members right out of cosmetology schools.  The biggest downside is inexperience.   Inexperience with EVERYTHING, and that includes interviewing.   This requires that salon owners put up more time and financial investment upfront before receiving a return on their new hires.    In recent months, we were discouraged by the quality of candidates interviewing for positions on our team.   For every 100 candidates we screened, we were lucky if 20 of them made the cut to a second interview. Of those 20, maybe 1 or 2 received an offer from us.   With those statistics, we knew we couldn’t meet the hiring demands of our growing company.   When you need stylists, you need stylists.   If you’re a salon owner and reading this, you know what I mean.   And you know that feeling you get in the pit of your stomach when you don’t have anyone in training, but really need to put four stylists on the floor in a month.


What we realized was that some of the candidates we were interviewing weren’t necessarily bad stylists, they were just horrible at interviewing!   That’s when our Human Resource Manager decided to try something different.   She decided she would teach a class titled, “How To Land The Perfect Salon Stylist Position”.   The approach she used was to give away all the “secrets” to interviewing.   As a recruiter, she wanted to teach what salon recruiters look for in candidates so that they could get their dream job.   The framework for her class was built around a “Do’s and Don’ts” list that she created.    So, off we went into the local schools, teaching our new class quarterly.   What followed were better than average interviews and more qualified hires.


We have to remind ourselves that many of the students graduating from cosmetology schools today have never had a “real job” and thus, have never interviewed before.  I know that sounds crazy (and it is), but that’s the reality of today’s recruiting climate in cosmetology schools.


Below is the list of Do’s And Don’ts that we use when we teach our class titled, “How To Land The Perfect Salon Stylist Position”.   We usually allow approximately 60 minutes for the presentation.  Feel free to use it when recruiting at your local cosmetology schools.   Just promise to come back and leave a comment telling us if it made a difference in your recruiting efforts.





Do show up early – early shows you’re eager.
Do have questions for your interviewer.
Do research the company with which you are interviewing.
Do dress the part – hair styled, makeup done, professional outfit, nice shoes.
Do show your personality.
Do take time to answer questions thoughtfully.
Do be professional.
Do be nice to the guest care team when checking in for your onsite interview.
Do have a resume and please keep it to one page.
Do smile!
Do ask about the company dress policy.
Do have a firm handshake.  No dead fish handshakes.
Do make eye contact.



Don’t be late!
Don’t reschedule.
Don’t smell like an ashtray.
Don’t show the 3 B’s – Boobs, Butt, and Belly.
Don’t wear jeans or dress too casual.
Don’t chew gum.
Don’t put “See resume” on the application when you have been asked to fill out the application.
Don’t ask about compensation on the first interview.
Don’t talk negatively about former employers, former teammates, or former classmates.
Don’t forget you’re interviewing us, just as much as we are interviewing you.

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  1. Terry McKee

    December 17th, 2015 at 7:07 am

    . . . Brilliant ! . . .

  2. Ronit

    December 19th, 2015 at 10:40 pm

    Love it

  3. Linda

    February 1st, 2016 at 8:01 am

    What is going on at our schools is the students are being told to “go to Procuts, mastercuts… Learn from them for two years!” Then they can move on!!! The students are afraid to come to our salon …

  4. Michael Sievers

    February 20th, 2016 at 12:00 pm

    Well Done.

  5. Tammy Coakley

    May 1st, 2016 at 6:00 am

    Thank you Chris great read

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Located in Austin, Texas.

Chris Murphy