The art of salon staff recruitment

Business expert and beauty trainer Marie-Louise Coster considers the best way to attract good staff to your salon business.

Recruitment is a bit like a jigsaw puzzle, if you get the right pieces in the right place, the vision you had at the start is fulfilled – get it wrong and the picture just isn't the same.

Recruiting team members can be time consuming. You could opt to use a recruitment agency and although this will no doubt save you a little bit of time in finding and filtering through the applicants, it can be a costly approach.

With the modern day world being as technology focussed as it is, I am not convinced the good old fashioned newspaper adverts work the same as they did when I was first looking for a salon job nearly 20 years ago. But what we do have is Social Media and the internet making your message instant when it comes to having a vacancy.

So, where should you start and how can you ensure that you get the right applicants? These eight simple steps will show you how…

Job profile & applicant profile

Before you advertise take some time to put together a job profile of the specifics of the role itself – is it part time or full time, permanent or temporary, how much can you afford to pay them, will there be commission, qualifications, level of experience and the possible progression for the right applicant.

At the same time put together a profile of the ideal applicant, what skills does the business need from this person – are you limited on therapists who can offer holistic treatments or specific nail treatments for example, what experience will they have and what type of person is needed to fit in with your existing team to ensure a harmonious working environment? Ultimately, the needs and happiness of your current working team have to be a factor in your overall decision.

Getting the right team is paramount to the success of your business.

Advertise the vacancy

The first place I would suggest to do this is through your own website, Facebook and Twitter page. You may even choose to put a notice up in the salon or in the window of the salon.

With the amount of passing trade and clients you have coming in, you have a whole audience who may know of a suitable applicant. All of these approaches are free and will reach a really wide audience almost instantly.

There are often pages on Facebook that are local jobsites or advertising boards for your immediate area so post on these too and spread the word; it may either be seen by a potential applicant or by someone else who knows one.

If you are happy to take on a newly qualified or part qualified therapist, you could also contact the local colleges and see if they have any suitable students.

Collecting and reviewing CVs is less time consuming than just interviewing everyone that applies.

Be specific with your advert

You have one chance to make a good first impression and make your business sound like somewhere the potential applicants are going to want to work; with this in mind make sure you explain a little about the company and the benefit of being an employee at your salon.

By the same token, be sure to clearly specify exactly what you want from the applicant – do they need to be trained in a specific brand, to a specific level, are the hours set etc.

This way you won't get people applying who are not what you are looking for and you won't waste your time reading CVs or holding interviews for people who just aren't going to be suitable.

Make sure you have a closing date so as everyone knows when their applications have to be in by. Make your business sound like somewhere the potential applicants are going to want to work.

Collect & review the CVs

Specify that all applicants send a CV and covering letter to you, plus a headshot if you wish.

Once you have reached the closing date sit down and spend some time reading over the CVs and covering letters that you have. Although I appreciate this is time consuming, it is more time consuming to just interview everyone that applies.

Make a shortlist

Contact everyone on the shortlist and conduct a short telephone interview to see how they come across, at that point you could then decide to offer the ones who do well a face to face interview in the salon.

Always interview in the salon so as the team can meet the potential candidates and the candidates themselves can get a feel for the business itself. Be prepared – have a list of questions, scenarios, ask them why they want to work for you, what they can bring to the business and where they see themselves further down the line.

Equally it is just as important to express why they should want to work for you – it is a two way street and as much as you have expectations of them as an employee they too will have expectations of you as an employer.Take the time to explain the benefits of working for the business, the job prospects, training opportunities and progression etc. Remember, if you think she is good so will another salon, so why should she choose you over them?

Trade test

The ones who do well in the face-to-face interviews should be invited back to do a trade test. They may talk a good talk in the interview, but can they do the treatment? Ultimately that is what your business is providing and if the treatments aren't good enough people won't come back, and let's be honest there are plenty of other salons they can visit so we cannot let this happen.

During a trade test, ask applicants to carry out ‘messier' treatments, i.e. things that could go wrong easily such as waxing, tinting, manicure etc.
Always get the applicants to do what I call ‘messier' treatments i.e. things that could go wrong easily such as waxing, tinting, manicure etc. These are all basic treatments and if they can't get them right you know they are not going to be able to get a handle on the more advanced aspects of the job.


When you have your final list of the person / persons you are willing to offer the job to take up references and client testimonials if possible. Also obtain proof of eligibility to work in the UK and any other pieces of information that you need to move forward.

Make the job offer

Agree a start date, iron out any queries on either side so as your new recruit can start without any hiccups. Perhaps even arrange a lunch or after work drinks with your current team and the new applicant so everyone can meet before they start, making it a little less daunting for everyone involved.

Once your chosen applicant starts make sure you have a good and well thought out induction process. Don't go leaving them to their own devices or throwing them in at the deep end – you want them to be happy and confident in the business and to stay with you for a long time to come; just as they only have one chance to make a good impression, so do you.

Marie-Louise Coster is a Beauty Therapist, Trainer and Business Consultant, with over 20 years' experience in the industry.  All About Mi Beauty & Holistic Training School is ABT-accredited.