Thursday, March 27, 2008

Recruiting Strategies

We're in a hiring slump at my salon. We need two new stylists but we're just not seeing any good candidates. We brought on an apprentice in January but after about three weeks we cut her loose for poor attendance. When you're short-handed it's tempting to take on anyone just to get a body behind a chair. That will backfire every time! We're forcing ourselves to be patient and wait for the right candidate.

So how do you find a good stylist? We want ours fresh out of school so we send job postings to all the local schools. We also try to schedule times to speak at the various schools. Generally we try to put together a program that will be interesting to the students and that is different from what they get every day at school. Sometimes we'll do a men's cutting class since they don't do as much men's work in school. We encourage students to shadow with us for a few hours to get a feel for our salon. We also conduct tours for the students periodically.

Once we get a candidate in the door, we want as many of our team to meet with him or her as possible. Fit is critical - even more so than technical ability. Technical skills, we can teach, but a person either fits our culture or they don't. We will have a minimum of two interviews, one of them a technical interview where they will cut a mannequin head.

It's a long process that surprises some of the candidates - they are not used to a salon being so selective. Even though we are struggling with staffing right now we are confident that being selective brings the best long-term results.


  1. I have not used a technical interview where stylists actually cut previously (I have asked for portfolio photos of work). Do you find that you learn a lot from this? Are you looking for skill, speed, both? Also, are stylists reluctant to participate in such a long hiring process for an hourly pay rate? I have had trouble selling the hourly model as more beneficial to employees. Thanks for the insight!

  2. We do the technical interview for a few reasons: 1) we generally hire straight out of beauty school 2) we are a men's salon 3) many of the graduates have done very little men's hair in school.

    We're not looking for speed. We just want to see how well they can blend etc.

    Regarding the long hiring process: many entry level positions here pay an hourly rate so that doesn't seem to be an issue. The lengthy hiring process is as much for their benefit as for ours...we want them to feel comfortable with their decision to join us. It does catch some off guard but talk about it in our first interview so they will know what to expect.

    As for the hourly pay model: what we do is more than just hourly pay - it's team based pay (TBP). On the surface it sounds the same but there are important differences. With TBP we work together to keep everyone busy. We set salon goals and pay team bonus as goals are met. With TBP your stylists compensation will never max out like it does with commission. Realistically a stylist on commission is going to build her book up for the first few years, then once she's fully booked her income is maxed until she raises prices.

    With TBP as long as the salon is meeting goals and the individual is doing their part, their income will continue to rise.

    If you are paying hourly but are not team-based, you may not be setting goals and employing methods to grow the business. The business growth is necessary to allow you to raise the hourly rates.

    Hope this helps. I have several older posts that deal with TBP and how it works as well.