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The Frustrating Truth About Job Hunting

by Holly Schippers | March 9, 2016

I’m not sure I can count the number of salon owners that have asked, “How do I find a great nail tech?” It is easily in the top ten most common questions I’m asked by owners. They seem to be looking for someone that will do a good job and keep showing up for work.

This made me think that if I were to ever try hunting for a salon job, it would not be difficult to find. In the last month I have actually submitted resumes to about a dozen salons which resulted in one interview. I was completely upfront in the initial contact email about my travel schedule as an educator and willingness to be a contributing part of a salon team.

After being called by a receptionist to have my first and only interview scheduled, the next step is to show up and see what I think of the salon. I got all kinds of advice from friends and fellow professionals on how to do my best at the interview, including how to request a sign on bonus, which I had not even heard of and didn’t think I should push my luck to try!

Imagine yourself in this interview with me: The spa manager starts the interview and asks questions about my nail career and experience, proceeding to tell me how picky and professional she is. This is followed up with sharing how she mixes and matches all the many products she uses in addition to the fact she does not attend classes or tradeshows. By her questions and responses, she clearly had not seen my resume or looked at the email. Enter the owner, coming in halfway through apparently from another interview, who also does nails. I’m pretty excited at the thought of a full service salon run by nail techs. The owner also proceeds to prove she did not read the emails or pay attention to my resume. She concludes the interview by mentioning that she thought I had submitted a resume and they must have it somewhere, at which time I handed her a printed copy of my resume,which had four thumbnails of magazine cover nails I’ve done, along with reference letters from:

  • Doug Schoon, leading industry scientist, owner of Schoon Scientific
  • Sigourney Nuñez, NAILS Magazine associate editor
  • Lucien Henderson, owner and creator of Empower Nail Art
  • Danielle Devine, former CND Education Manager
  • Nancy Simpson-Brice, longtime client

I requested a tour of the salon disinfection practices. While I do not personally agree with mixing product lines and using one brand of liquid, another brand of powder, different brands of base coat, color and top coats (I do not begrudge others the choice to do so), a clean salon was my absolute nonnegotiable necessity. Luckily they followed state board protocols at least and I thought I could make do.

I was moved out of the office to make room for the next person they interviewed and so at the end of the tour I asked the spa manager to please call and let me know of the results either way. She replied that of course they will call within the week to let me know if I had a job or not.

 Three and a half weeks later, they are clearly not actually going to follow through on that phone call and I am left to wonder what salon owners are looking for. I like to think my skills are at least average and my resume is on the decent side.  However, the experience has opened my eyes quite a bit as to why some salons struggle to find nail professionals.

I expected at least some professional courtesy call from fellow nail professionals and was shocked at lack of attention to details – losing the resume, not even reading the emails. It was also further eye opening at how many current services or educational opportunities I brought up that they had never even heard of. If someone in the salon had questions or needed help, they were taught “everything they needed to know” by the salon manager who thinks she is too busy to have an up-to-date education herself. In retrospect, and after some advice from #BFFmel, I realize that I dodged a bullet in not getting that job offer. It does lead me to ask the following questions of our salon community though:

SALON OWNERS:

  • What are you looking for in a nail technician?
  • Do you actually look at their resumes?
  • Do you place any value on current and continuing education?
  • What could I have done differently in my situation if I were trying to get a spot in your salon?

NAIL TECHS:

  • What is one of the most frustrating things in the job hunting process?
  • What is the number one thing that turns you away from wanting to work at a salon?
  • What is the most awesome experience you ever had with a salon owner?
  • How do owners make you feel at the interview process?

Hopefully the answers to these questions and resulting discussions will get some thinking and talking activated on both sides that can lead to progress. I am finding out how difficult it is to find a salon willing to give me a shot and wondering how people without any experience are doing it!?

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