Over the 20 years that Stefanie Fox has been in the beauty space, she has owned her own salon, worked for outside sales teams, and directed education for manufacturers. In addition to her cosmetology license, she also earned her MBA and an undergraduate degree in marketing. Today, Stefanie works as the founder of Talent Match, the ultimate recruiting resource for salon owners. She has dedicated decades to uncovering what makes beauty professionals tick, and asking owners and stylists the tough questions to better understand the secret to a thriving salon culture. Read on for Stefanie’s inside look at the most important steps salons can take to build better recruiting strategies.
Industry • Best Practice
The Dream Team Blueprint: Stefanie Fox Shares Salon Recruiting Secrets
Effective salon recruitment strategies don’t look the way they used to — here’s what salon owners need to know about attracting top talent in 2022.
What inspired you to start researching the beauty industry?
While I was traveling the US and Canada in beauty education and consulting roles, I noticed that salons and stylists had very different opinions about how businesses should run. I wanted to understand that disconnect, so I created surveys to discover stylists’ job expectations, motivations, etc. At first the survey was very basic, just seeking to understand how stylists and salon owners were missing each other. Then we created a survey specifically for the beauty school community, and we got 20,000 responses each year from students and alumni.
Can you tell us about the impetus for Talent Match?
In 2017, recruiting took the top spot as salon owners’ number one problem. The complaint used to be “I can’t keep talent,” now it’s “I can’t find talent.” Power has shifted from employers to employees in recent years. Now, employees have a say in what they want out of their work and how they want to balance their jobs and their personal lives.
Looking back, salon owners were digging in our heels instead of getting curious about what was changing. It’s not a question of Millennial entitlement (which was a common explanation), it’s a major shift happening in every industry that has already become the new status quo. We as owners and employers need to ask questions, listen, and evolve.
Today, recruiting needs to be a function of marketing. Talent wants to know that the company they’re going to work for shares their values, and they want to feel aligned with your brand and culture. In the beauty industry, independent stylists have the option to do their own thing and be their own boss. That’s why the panicked “post and pray” mode of publishing job listings and hoping for the best isn’t a functional recruiting strategy. Talent Match exists to help salon owners break that pattern by teaching them how to hone their always-on recruiting strategies.
According to the Talent Match ideology, what are the most important steps to salon recruiting?
#1: Know your story
To really know your company’s story, you need to get comfortable asking questions. Survey your employees about what matters to them. Who are you as a team? Start by clearly identifying 3-5 things that your whole team values. Instead of lofty ideals that sound nice, look for real values that you see exhibited in your team’s behavior every day. Every team thinks they have core values, but most of us just write down aspirational words that don’t really play out in our salons. Then you have to understand that culture isn’t one-and-done. Your values are going to evolve as your business grows and your staff changes, so you should repeat your survey annually.
#2: Tell your story
Once you know what your brand’s values are, you want to tell that story far and wide. Make sure you’re communicating who you are and what you’re all about in the places where you’ll actually find talent; research tells us how beauty professionals are finding jobs today. Students’ number one resource is their cosmetology school, while experienced stylists find most of their jobs through referrals. Instagram is a close second for students, while established stylists are more likely to use Indeed than recent grads. LinkedIn is rarely used among younger recruits.
Your website is also an important tool for finding talent. If you’re not prioritizing telling your story online, beauty professionals searching your site for job opportunities might bounce to the next salon and never find you again. If you require candidates to upload a resume or don’t have a responsive, mobile-friendly website, you may miss out on that talent. Think about attracting and retaining potential hires’ attention the same way you would think about engaging a consumer. This is all about getting your marketing ducks in a row across the board.
#3: Live your story
Once you start attracting talent by telling your story, it’s important to make sure you’re living up to your own hype. Bring that story through the entire hiring journey, from interviews through onboarding all the way to orientation. Make sure your processes align to who you say you are, and that you’re giving prospective talent the experience you’ve promised every step of the way.
One increasingly common problem is ghosting — if job seekers don’t show up for interviews, you probably haven’t really engaged them. You need to get people excited to become a part of your brand, and in that respect your culture is your superpower. Pay extra attention to the vibe among your team and the energy your management and leadership teams show up with not just to interviews, but day in and day out on the salon floor.
If you don’t walk the walk or talk the talk, the culture issues at your salon will cast a shadow over your brand. Even serious cultural disruptions can usually be addressed through frank discussion, but they might mean your approach needs a major overhaul. Brands need to build excitement and engagement by thinking about enticing talent the same way we think about consumer marketing. You want to be able to say “here’s who we are and here’s how you can grow with us.”
What's next for you and Talent Match?
We’re in the final phases of launching Matchable, which is like a dating app for salons looking to hire and stylists looking for jobs. You build your profile by answering questions about your preferences and opinions and what you’re looking for, and the app shows you candidates or jobs that are a match. The idea is to tackle high attrition rates in the beauty industry by putting culture first and making introductions based on values. We expect to launch the beta version of the app this year — salon owners will have to pay a fee and it will be free for stylists. In the future, we want to add a consumer linking element so that clients can find salon talent based on their needs and values in the same way.
It's a whole new world out there, and salon recruitment is changing for good — and for the better. Lock in your recruiting strategy with this free guide