According to a NAILS’ survey, almost one in five salon owners has turned away clients because the salon lacks an adequate number of nail techs. But with a little creativity, it’s possible to reach out to candidates inside and outside the beauty industry and attract a new crop of recruits to the profession.
When people hear someone say “I do nails,” they may conjure up an image of an employee who holds a fluff job with a mediocre income. What that statement should trigger is a picture of a financially independent, business-minded person who made an excellent career choice. As we all know, a career as a nail tech offers excellent financial potential, entrepreneurial possibilities and coveted scheduling flexibility — all in less time and money than it takes to earn a bachelor’s degree. We need to let the secret out about the benefits of being a nail tech. We can do it through education, recruitment, employee training, and marketing. As we do, we’ll not only help alleviate the crunch for quality techs — we’ll also empower men and women as they realize their financial and career potential.
Once we understand who we’re looking for — someone who is attracted to the industry not because she wants to “do nails,” but because she can see the payoff of working hard and setting goals — we’ll attract quality techs who are ready to achieve their dreams. Below are 50 places they may be hiding.
1. Develop a relationship with the owner/manager of a local beauty school to hear about potential candidates and to offer to help current students.
2. Hold a one-hour business class at the school to educate the students on the business side of a career in nails.
3. Become a mentor to a teachable student.
4. Arrange a field trip to your salon, where students can feel the energy, interview employees or renters, and learn about the benefits of working there after graduation. Have each student fill out an application before they leave.
5. Go to open houses at the beauty schools. Give away gifts and have students enter to win a prize. Have students include their names, address, phone numbers, and graduation date. Contact students upon graduation.
6. Offer a “Master’s” program to the graduating class. Students can come to your salon to receive one-on-one tips and instruction. This will help spotlight the students who are serious about their careers.
7. Become a “school.” Not literally, of course, but many states allow internships through the salons as an alternative to cosmetology school. Interns will still have to pass state boards.
8. Cross-educate by appealing to students who are being licensed as estheticians. It benefits your salon when you have employees who hold dual licenses.
9. Contact the community college and ask to hold an adult education class in the evening. You can market the class as an entrepreneurial opportunity or as a second career possibility. Bring literature that explains the commitment and rewards of being a nail tech.
10. Participate in career days at local high schools. Remember that a career in nails is rewarding and lucrative to both men and women. Keep that in mind as you give a description of the career.
11. Offer at-home manicures to graduating seniors at your local high school or community college. They receive free manicures or pedicures and you have a captive audience to plug your salon.
12. Offer to give free manicures to students graduating from local business schools. Many of these students are graduating with a certificate that will land them a job with less pay and less flexibility than a career in nails. Let them know about the opportunities in the nail industry.
Doing nails is an excellent second career. Solicit those people who impress you with their compassion and work ethic. Offer to bring these new techs into the salon at a minimum hourly rate as they attend school and build a clientele. Appeal to people in careers that require hard work and reliability:
14. Nurses aides
15. Medical assistants
16. Retail managers
18. Administrative assistants
19. Bank tellers
22. Technical writers
Among Personal/Client Contacts
23. Some of your best future techs could be your current customers. Talk positively about a career in nails. Make a direct pitch to promising clients.
24. Ask your clients if they know someone who would make a good nail technician. Develop a reward program that offers clients $100 if they help find your next employee.
25. Network among other beauty professionals, letting them know you have positions available.
26. Always carry a business card with you. When you come across people who impress you with excellent customer service, suggest they stop by the salon to talk about employment.
Check out job banks, bulletin boards, and recruiting sites. Don’t just fish for techs here; sell your salon and post an open position. Some places to start:
39. Network at beauty shows and get contact information from techs or students who attend.
40. Visit art schools. A career in nails is two-pronged. It’s an excellent income, but it also provides an outlet for creativity and design. Artists may have never considered using their skills in the beauty industry.
41. Become the “go-to” person for the local press. Contact the press with feature story ideas and keep them informed about how your salon gives back to the community. The high profile will draw employees to your salon.
42. Reserve a booth at a job fair. Applicants and prospective employees will seek you out. Be prepared with literature about your salon and testimonials.
43. Organize a local beauty industry job fair with other salons in the area. It will be a good place to educate prospective techs on the benefits of working in the industry and it will allow your salon (and other salons) to build a database of potential employees.
44. Advertise in a college newspaper.
45. Place ads in newspapers serving your city’s non-English-speaking communities.
46. Establish a relationship with the job placement team from the unemployment office.
47. Contact the human resource department when you hear of a company that has had recent layoffs. (Remember to bring literature, such as a flyer or a brochure.)
48. Contact your state board and ask for a listing of graduating techs.
49. Study the ads placed in the Sunday paper by business schools and trade schools. Place an ad that would attract students willing to make the commitment to get licensed with the hope of landing a solid career.
50. Empty nesters often look for part-time work. Let moms know a second career in nails offers wonderful benefits.
51. Contact placement organizations that serve the physically challenged.
52. Request a list of nail tech licensees from your state board and do a mass mailing.
All literature should include:
The estimated time commitment of earning a license
The average work week
Any special benefits of working at your salon
Michelle Pratt is a freelance writer and licensed nail tech based in Johnson City, N.Y.