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Hiring An Assistant

The majority of hairstylists look forward to the day they can hire an assistant and dread the day they have to go through the process of hiring one. Hiring an assistant or simply coaching a stylist for success is the most rewarding experience a hairstylist can have. The challenge is that finding a quality assistant can be difficult and training them can be even more of a challenge. It can be intimidating to even consider hiring someone else to manage and train.

Not only does having an assistant make your life easier, but it also gives you the ability to be more successful and, in many ways, teaches you to be a better businessperson. It allows you the time you need to grow your overall business. The reality about our industry is that it has changed drastically and there has been a huge decline in cosmetology school grads wanting to sign up to be your shampoo-slave for the next year. Full transparency, if you are looking for a kickass assistant, you better have a kickass associate program in place. Today's assistants need structure, guaranteed success, and to be valued by the stylist they work under.

To hire a great assistant, you actually need to work backwards. We need to start at the beginning and get all of our ducks in a row before we can even think about finding somebody to fill the role. Here is how to do so:

1. What type of education will you be providing?

Every outstanding assistant has this question at the top of their list, therefore you better figure it out first. Post graduation, cosmetology students are looking for more education and experience before heading out on their own. To get you started, we recommend creating a list of topics that you could teach an assistant. For example:

  • One-length haircuts

  • Understanding angles in haircutting

  • Layers and bangs

  • A-lines

  • Short women’s cuts

  • Men’s cuts

  • Etc.

You now have a focal point for each training week. On the first weekday of the week, we'd advise having a discussion about the subject, giving some doll head homework, and working on projects as a team. You'll be amazed where you can find minor teaching opportunities throughout the process.

2. How will you be conducting your education?

We always suggest providing your assistant at least 8 hours per month of scheduled lesson time outside of the workday in order to offer them more education. You can slice up that time however you would like depending on your schedule and business model. The one-on-one mentoring is crucial. Both commissioned teams and booth renters should use this structure. Few educators genuinely teach throughout the workday in an efficient manner, but the vast majority are too preoccupied with managing their busy schedules and providing excellent customer service to actually teach.

3. Support advanced and continued education

This goes above and beyond any existing education that is offered at your salon. While in-house education is crucial to the career path of an associate, outside advanced education is vital to possessing well-rounded skill sets. Investing into your assistants' advanced and continued education will help ensure their career development and employment longevity. Consider how motivated your assistant will be when he/she returns from this educational course and experience. They will work more diligently than ever for you, and we want to utilize that energy as much as possible.

4. Allow your assistant to do more than what you are comfortable with

We suggest that your assistant do all of your shampoos, color applications, toners, blow dries, assist with retail sales, checking guests out and foiling or hair painting too. Your assistant should be your "left hand" and we suggest allowing them to really get in there and do everything. This is all about the culture you create and the training you provide. Are you worried that your assistant will waste color when mixing it or that they might make a mistake when applying it? You need to take a step back and reconsider why you are working with an assistant and the sort of education you want to give them. It may not be time to hire an assistant and expand your business if you aren't willing to actually let them get their hands dirty and perform all of your services as your partner. Having an assistant comes with many benefits for you, however, if you want a stand-out assistant who is going to stick it out with you, you also need to think about what you’re offering them.

5. Have a finish line in mind

Start by considering the outcome. What must be accomplished by your assistant before you decide if they are prepared to move on? Is there a test they need to take, or should you just finish the 30 or so weeks of instruction and then give them a few extra weeks to finish any outstanding material before they finish the program? The main line is that you need to force the tiny bird out of the nest and allow them to fly, no matter how much you or your assistant loves the dynamic. This is truly the beauty in the process, and nothing will make you prouder than celebrating their future successes.

Now that you’ve got all that figured out- let's hire you an assistant!

The best strategy to find your ideal assistant is to use the reputation of the field to your advantage. This can be built over time; therefore we advise you to use networking to your full advantage. If you are wanting to post this position on social platforms or other hiring sites, it should be long and detailed and include an overview of your salon, your training program, your retail lines, color lines, benefits, schedule, education and anything else that you can think of that might attract your perfect assistant. Put a little personality into it! Remember, we are trying to build an emotional connection from the start.

An effective interview should resemble a first date that ends in marriage. Any relationship that you leave with the thoughts "that was awkward, but they looked the part," "they had no personality, but they have great experience," or "that was awful, but I really need somebody" is sure to end in a nasty divorce. If your assistant candidate doesn't make you fall head over heels, keep dating—the right one is out there—you just have to find them.

The bottom line is to train for skill and hire for personality.

When you hire an assistant or new stylist that you plan to educate, congratulations because you just became someone’s mentor. That stylist is now your responsibility, and you play a huge role in their journey in this industry. Some of today's most prominent hairstylists began their careers as reserved, timid, but determined cosmetologists who were simply waiting for the proper mentor to come along and truly break them out of their shell. Give that person everything you've got!



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