“I don’t get it. I’ve advertised and interviewed but I’m not getting any bites. What is going on with this generation of stylists? They’re so, I don’t know…different.”
Millenials. That’s what this generation of stylists is called and, yes, Millenials are different. There are lots of reasons why they’re different (that’s an entirely different conversation – one I’ll have to cover in another post) but today I want to focus on what salon owners can do to grow their stylist pipeline and develop successful recruiting strategies.
Salon owners have recognized that the employment pool has changed dramatically, yet when it comes to recruiting, interviewing, and employing this group, salon owners are using the same (frankly, outdated) methods. This ignorance is in no way intentional, it’s simply a lack of knowledge of what, and who, they’re dealing with. We, too, have witnessed a dramatic shift in the students we are training to become stylists, the most noticeable shift has been in the attitudes of our student population when it comes to their careers. Things that may not have mattered to recent generations of graduates – like a salon’s web presence or social media presence – are critically important to groups we’ve graduated the past few years. And, unlike past graduates who knew specifically what they were looking for when it came to choosing a salon in which to work, when asked what matters most to them, Millenials are often vague or offer answers that leave me scratching my head. So, if you’re doing everything the way you used to (the way that actually used to get you stylists) but you’re wondering why you’re not able to hire new talent, here are ten things Millenial students and stylists have shared with me that impact their decision making when it comes to choosing a salon.
The Millenial student or stylist’s specific career goals: “I want to work in a high-end salon,” “I want to work in a super busy salon,” “I want to work in a trendy salon,” “I want to work in a boutique style, more intimate salon,” “I want to open my own salon,” “I want to move to New York/California/Miami.” Millenial stylists are the stars of their show. Visual by nature and raised on a steady diet of reality television, they’ve already visualized what they are going to be doing, where they’re going to be doing it, how a salon fits into it, and how fabulous they are going to look on Instagram doing it. No matter how unrealistic or pie-in-the-sky you may think their career goals are, you better fake like you think it’s brilliant. If you don’t, no worries – they’ll leave your salon for the salon down the street, then the salon further down the street, until they find someone that will support what they want to do.
Their geographical location: A lot of our Millenial students and graduates do not live locally and a significant number of them are still living at home. So, when looking for a salon to work in a.) the price of putting gas in their car impacts whether or not they will choose a so-so salon far from home or a so-so salon closer to home because less money means less lifestyle money, b.) they can pick and choose where they want to work because they don’t have the pressure of rent money needing to be made and, c.) generally salons closer to home are favored so there isn’t a long drive at the end of their day.
The salon’s reputation: Among current students, graduates, salon industry professionals they know (their aunt, uncle, cousin, friend “that’s a stylist”), what they’ve heard, know, or assume, about the salon is their truth. As is your salon’s online presence.
Who else works there: Whether or not other current students or graduates already work at a specific salon a Millenial stylist is interested in greatly influences whether or not they want to work there. “If so and so works there it must be cool,” applies as easily as, “If so and so doesn’t work there then it must suck.”
The salon’s online presence: Millenials are the most tech savvy generation this world has ever seen. Raised with computers, email addresses starting in grade school, and smart phones glued to their faces unless they’re asleep, this generation of stylists EXPECTS your salon to have a website (and a Facebook page, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, Tumblr, Google+, Vine, and LinkedIn at a minimum) and if you don’t (or, worse, if you have it and it sucks) it can be a kiss of death.
The salon’s physical location: Is it convenient for them to get to? Does it “look” cool/fun/trendy/hip? I’m not saying they’re lazy but the path of least resistance is a favorite.
The salon’s actual appearance: Is it modern/cool/hip or is it dated or “old”? Will their pictures look good in their social media feed? Will their friends/family/frenemies be impressed?
The salon’s relationship with the school: Does the salon team or owner come in for visits or to teach classes? Does the salon invite the students to participate in events with their salon where the students can assist or observe the stylists in action?
The salon’s team: Are they “cool” – which, in and of itself, obviously, has a million different definitions and is, of course, in the eye of the beholder – nice, friendly, successful, current, on-trend, etc.? Or, are they old school, dated, etc.?
The W.I.F.M.: This is probably one of THE most important factors a Millenial student, stylist, or graduate, considers when looking at salons – “What’s in it for me? What are you going to teach me? What are you going to pay me? Why should I work at your salon instead Salon B. down the street? Will I get my own chair? When will I get my own chair? When can I go on the floor? How long am I going to have to assist? Do I get tipped out? How much continuing education will I get? Do you offer benefits? Are you going to advertise for me? How am I going to get clients? How many breaks will I get? Can I make my own schedule? I’m going on a cruise with my boyfriend and his parents in November, so I’ll need two weeks off, is that cool?”
Hiring Millenial students and stylists can be done – we have salons in our area where every employee is a graduate of our school. Use the information our Millenial students have shared with us to take an unbiased look at your salon through their eyes. Get an idea of what you’re salon is doing right and then, if there are areas where you’d like to make improvements, make adjustments. Even though our audience as a school doesn’t change, their tastes, ideas, wants, needs, and how they like to receive information changes all the time.