10 Powerful and Practical Recruiting Strategies

Photo credit: @hsoulski on Instagram

Stepping into a cosmetology school to speak to hundreds of students about your business can be daunting. Which students will be the right fit for your salon? How do you define and describe the culture of your business? What do students need to know to make their decision?

We spoke with Garrison Neill, director of business and marketing at Paris Parker Salons and Neill, and Tatum Neill, creative director at Paris Parker salons and co-founder of Elevate Hair, about their approach to recruitment and the strategies that have been most successful in hiring great stylists. Below are 10 of their favorite strategies.

Garrison Neill
Source: Garrison Neill
Tatum Neill
Source: Tatum Neill

1. Talk About Opportunity:

Students don’t always realize the flexibility and potential their future career as a stylist holds. Educating them about their opportunities builds excitement.

“Hairdressers have complete control of their destiny,” Garrison says. “They have the ability to grow their business every day by recruiting new guests and upselling to them.

Nobody can hold you back except yourself.”

And the career path of a stylist isn’t always obvious in the beginning of their career. They may become an owner, manager, educator, platform artist…the possibilities are endless.

2. Get Inspired:

Students aren’t at beauty school just to learn a trade. They’re creative people who want to channel their artistry and creativity into a career. But doing hair day-to-day can get monotonous, and a hairdresser’s bread and butter is often simple, long-layered cuts.

Tatum shows students how to break out of that rut and make each cut unique.

“Customization is the key to taking a classic hair cut and making it more creative,” Tatum says. “Once you have a basic shape that is proportionate to the client’s head shape, you can deconstruct that shape and create elements unique to the client’s features. For example, a fringe, or layered elements that highlight the cheeks or eyes.”

Garrison adds, “We also encourage them to find inspiration in recruiting models who will let them do edgier cuts—even if it means giving the hair cut away.”

3. Be Transparent with Your Non-Compete:

In a world where everyone talks, and many students are probably falsely informed, explaining your non-compete agreement is a best practice.

“Always bring up the non-compete,” Garrison says. “It’s your opportunity to set them straight right off the bat. Ours states you can’t work within the county for six months. But we don’t enforce it until the stylist has been with us for 90 days.

“That 90-day period allows us and them to test the relationship. We are trying to be fair to everyone,” he adds.

4. Have an Open Door:

“Any student who wants to visit is invited into the salon for a shadow day,” Garrison says. “They come in and spend time with the team, watch assistants, and see the role of new artists.

“It gives them a chance to see if they will mesh well with the team—if their vibe fits our vibe. If they aren’t the right fit, they feel it just as much as we do, which is why

we recommend they look at all types of salons, including booth rental.”

“We want them to analyze our competition, because we feel we’ll stand out as the best. The type of person we’re recruiting is one who wants to be mentored, grow and learn from others. If you don’t want to be in a team environment, you’re not the right fit.”

5. Give them the 411 on Social Media:

With 100 percent of students active on social media, salons need to communicate with them on the platforms they frequent.

It’s also important to get them connected to your brand. “When we go to a school, we ask every student to take out their phone and follow not just our salon, but other industry brands we support,” Garrison says. “By doing this, we grow our account by 50 followers every time we have a presentation. “

“And we can follow the students WE like, too.”

The Neills say it’s important to make sure their salon is showing up on social media in a way that fits their brand because it’s a recruitment tool for both clients and new stylists.

“If you want students to pay attention to your social media, curate your page so that it’s exciting to them,” Tatum says. “Ask them who they like and who they follow and try to find ways to bridge the gap. Also, follow your key student targets and make a point to like and comment on their work to increase their engagement.”

6. Send in Relatable Stylists:

The right stylist to speak to students isn’t necessarily your veteran who’s making six figures.

“We find the most effective stylists to send to schools are ones who are doing everything right, but they have only been with the company a year or two,” Garrison says. “They’re able to relate to someone who has recently graduated, and tell them how they got through our program in six months and are already making commission. “

“But I always think it’s better to have two people, so we usually send a young up-and-comer with Tatum or myself.”

7. Explain the Time Investment:

Students understand there will be further training once they are hired in a salon, but they still want this burning question answered: “When will I get on the floor?”

Garrison says Paris Parker’s training program has a framework that stylists can be flexible in, speeding it up or slowing it down as needed.

“It could take four months or 18 months,” he says. “It’s all about how often they bring models in and test out. Everyone goes at their own pace.”

8. Give Details of Your Program:

The Neills discuss the timing and overall long-term look at their education program with students when they visit schools.

“Trends change constantly, and stylists have to continue to educate themselves to stay ahead,” Tatum says. “It’s important to acknowledge how far students have come in their tenure at school, but also explain they have more work to do before they will be comfortable with the variety and expectations in the salon environment.”

Students who are interested in the day-to-day details of the program are invited in for a shadow day where they can ask an educator more questions.

9. Clarify Your Culture:

A salon’s culture can be an indefinable thing until you are actually an employee experiencing it every day. But you can still give students a picture of your culture with an anecdote or example of in-salon events or competitions. 

“Culture comes through for us when we tell the story about our family business,” Garrison says. “We started our first salon 27 years ago as a testing ground to implement best business practices. We’re a salon rooted in education.”

It’s our goal to create a team of motivated members. We recruit based on personality and desire to grow, not on technical skills alone. We want people who mesh with the team.”

Maybe your salon is all about philanthropy, or perhaps you have team retreats twice a year—whatever it is that defines your culture, communicate it.

10. Don’t Forget the Perks:

Students are always going to be interested in the “extras” that set you apart

from your competition, so don’t forget to mention those perks when you’re visiting a school.

While the Neills tell students about their quarterly photo shoots and top educators, they also outline more traditional benefits.

“We have a 401k plan, great health insurance and paid time off,” Garrison says. “We also send our creative team to New York every year and have many opportunities to become an educator, not just within Paris Parker, but the entire Aveda network.”

Tatum adds, “I also speak to the market that we work with, and that students should aspire to be working with the wealthiest clients and charging the most amount of money. I recommend they always grab a price menu at a salon and know that they will probably tap out at the highest price point. If its $50 or less, then they should possibly consider another salon.”


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