So you finished your cosmetology training in beauty school, passed the State Board exam, flew right through the written exam (yeah right!), and are now available on the open market as a job-seeking hair genius. But hold your horses, sweetheart. It’s not going to be that easy to find a salon with an owner that thinks you’re a rock star hairstylist. You’ve got to prove yourself first. But before you can even start on that part, you’ve got to find a salon period.
That means you’ve got to select a place that is accepting students fresh out of beauty school that have NO experience whatsoever (no, that pink hair you did on your friend last summer doesn’t really count). And that, my fellow beauty grad, can be a challenge. As someone who has overcome this hurdle in the somewhat recent past, I have a fairly good knowledge of what it’s like to be on the application end of the job search process. And as someone who had secured a job for herself before she even graduated beauty school (and received more than two job offers in about a week), I’d say I was fairly successful at it.
Since then, I’ve observed how other beauty wannabees have handled their job applications, and I must say, I’m pretty appalled at what I’ve seen (and for the record, so is my boss). So what I hope to accomplish here is guiding you in a few steps that may help you to quickly find a salon and impress the pants off of the hiring manager.
1. Dress the part. Just because you might think hairstyling is on the low end of the totem pole wardrobe-wise, the salon owner does not. There’s a reason many establishments enforce such strict dress codes for their stylists – the idea is to look like someone who knows what they’re doing. The day will come when you can express your creativity, but for now, you need to show up to your interview in something you could attend a business meeting in. No, it needn’t be frumpy, but it doesn’t hurt if your outfit is mostly black and your hair is clean and styled. Personally, I attended my interviews in a black, above-the-knee dress from Forever 21, black patterned tights and black high heels. I got job offers from each place I applied! Contrast this with the girls who came in wearing too-tight skinny jeans, a T- shirt, and flip flops, and the woman who “dropped by for an application” wearing her scrubs. No, I’m not kidding.
2. Give a firm handshake. My boss recently complained to me that one of her recent applicants gave her a fishy handshake. She perceived the faux pas as this: If you can’t even shake my hand respectfully, how do you expect me to believe you’ll treat clients with respect? It goes without saying, but she didn’t get the job.
3. Bring your portfolio. The portfolio your teachers made you start in school will end up coming in handy. It helps to have both a physical portfolio with pictures and letters of recommendation in a binder, in addition to an online portfolio. I made a Facebook fan page for my portfolio and created a board on my Pinterest account that says “Portfolio.” Note that both of the online options are free, and the physical option is quite inexpensive.
4. Make a decent resume. It may shock you, but most of my fellow students in beauty school did not even know the first thing about creating a resume. I don’t know how they got hired to any of their previous jobs, but apparently they didn’t involve writing a list of qualifications on a computer. Keep in mind, the more skills your boss thinks you have, the more valuable you are to her. So impress her by creating a clean resume.
5. Be willing to start at a low level in the salon. I began as a shampoo apprentice and receptionist. Within a couple of weeks I was on the floor doing men’s and kids’ cuts and performing pedicures and manicures. In a couple of months, I was taking on some of my own clients and bringing in models for haircolor. And don’t give anybody attitude! I learned to keep my head down and my mouth shut – the hard way. Respect the stylists who have been there for years and have attained Senior or Master levels; you can learn a lot from them, and they’ll be happy to help you, as long as you don’t act like a fool who thinks they know what they’re doing when they really don’t.
After reading these, I’m sure you’re telling yourself that these are simple steps that anyone would know. Again, you’d be surprised. Few people I know have the first idea what it takes to be a newbie in a nice salon. I hope it helps you put your best foot forward as you explore your options as a new stylist.
Source: My experience as a licensed stylist in the state of Texas