How to raise your profile in the beauty & hair sectors

ABT's Dave Horton discusses how you can take your career to the next step, and get the industry to recognise your talents.

Woman shouting with megaphoneWhen was the last time you shouted about how great you are? You have a loyal group of clients who, no doubt, love to recommend you, and you market your salon services to gain new custom, but realistically, do you ever take an opportunity to showcase yourself personally to the industry?

As a nation, us Brits are traditionally modest. You know you're good at what you do – you have a client list to prove this – but standing up in front of your peers saying ‘I'm the best' perhaps doesn't come naturally.

You're not alone, putting yourself out there is a risk and brings up all sorts of anxieties about whether you're as good as your clients think you are, and how you match up to others in the industry. 

However, just imagine if you challenged yourself and it paid off?

Across all industries, not just beauty and hairdressing, the leading contributors are acknowledged and rewarded. Whether it's through recognition of existing bodies of work, such as actors winning an Oscar, or individuals competing against their peers, like sports men and women, without striving to be the best, we never really know whether we're doing the best job we can. 

Of course, some of you reading this won't have any inclination to be named ‘No.1' at what you do. You're happy to work in an industry you love, and just don't feel any competitive spirit. And of course, as long as you're doing the best for you clients and enjoying your work, there's nothing wrong with that. Just being ‘the best' version of yourself is fine. 

However, if you have an inkling that you could achieve more, gain acknowledgement for your talents, and that this could lead to you taking your career in a whole different direction, that surely it's worth a shot?

Taking the next step

If you recognise yourself as the above, think about ways you can showcase your talents against your peers. 

Our industry benefits from myriad events that invite you to take part in competitions in a whole host of sectors. Some are on a national level, others international. As with any competition or awards event, you should check that the event been devised by respected names in the industry, with fair criteria and a panel of credible judges who know what they are looking for in ‘the best'. 

The criteria you will be judged against is incredibly important, otherwise how can you ensure you perform at your best, or submit the right information? What's more, winning an award with little or no criteria, which is just a popularity contest, is pretty meaningless.

Most events will incur an entry fee, usually to cover administration costs. When we run the Irish National Nail and Irish National Make-up Tournaments, as with many of the other competitions run by trade event organisers, we subsidies entry fees to keep costs as low as possible for our competitors. 

In addition to an entry fee, some awards organisers ask you to pay a fee if you are shortlisted, or will only put you forward for the finals if you agree to pay to attend an awards dinner; I would be wary of this. In my view, competitions and awards ceremonies shouldn't be profit-making exercises, but should be run to support and promote the industry. 

Live events
Live events are generally in the form of competitions that take place at events across the country, and can cover a full spectrum of skills, such as The Lash Games, Brush Wars, The National Massage Championships, and Nailympia which all take place this autumn at Olympia Beauty, which ABT will  be supporting. At events such as these, competitors face each other in a live setting, completing a task – such as a make-up look or set of nails, for example – to set criteria. 

Irish Beauty Show Nail Tournament

Live competitions can be nerve-wracking, especially your first one, but are incredibly rewarding. 

Take feedback from the judges where available, which will enable you to gauge how you have performed against your peers.

Photographic & Portfolio competitions
For anyone set against competing (for now) in a live event, those which enable you to submit a portfolio of work to be judged are also a great option. Again, enter those that have credible names behind them with reasonable entry fees.  

Competitions such as these usually have a theme, and often entries are shortlisted by a panel of experts before judging is opened up to the wider industry, or sometimes general public.

If nail art is your thing, consider the Great Scratch Shoot Out run by Scratch magazine taking place this summer.

National Awards
There's nothing more glamourous than an awards night for the beauty and hair industries, and when they're recognising the very best talent the business has to offer, they're a real celebration. There's a lot of work that goes into entering for a national award, including compiling portfolios, attending interviews and assessments, and sometimes undergoing a ‘mystery shop'. However, the rewards of being recognised at this level can be incredible for you as an individual, raising your profile amongst everyone in the industry.

Awards run by the leading event organisers, such as Professional Beauty and Olympia Beauty, are known for their credibility; they have years of expertise behind them, are judged by independent panels comprised of industry experts, and comply with criteria which mean that winners are fairly and appropriately recognised. 

So, if you you'd like to take your career to the next step, and want the industry to recognise your talents, think about taking the plunge; you've nothing to lose and everything to gain.

Dave Horton is Director of ABT, the industry's leading membership and insurance provider representing over 18,000 clients.