Lessons from Your First Job
Beauty school is not an accurate reflection of your salon job, nope. Then again, education and gainful employment have different goals. I agree with those who feel they should be totally the same. Today’s beauty school builds confidence, gives second chances, and overlooks mistakes—how could you master something you’ve never seen, but by trial and error?
Salons are competitive—at times cutthroat--not too many second chances. A profitable salon seeks to be ahead of the curve by offering high quality workmanship, outstanding service and cool team members, all in a slick environment.
Schools could be slick, not because of pretention or stuffiness—I hate pretention, but because the behavior of both clients and staff is highly influenced by environment and surroundings. Your eating mannerism will differ when you eat on an elegant table or from a cafeteria tray.
Your first salon job will probably not be your permanent job. Most of us decided on a job with minimal information, or for the wrong reasons. No matter how good or bad your first job is, it offers lessons missing in school that will stay with you for the rest of your career. Here are a few:
1. You Can Be Replaced: it takes a lot for a school to expel you—a salon could fire or replace you on the spot. How can you avoid being replaced? Hone your technical and people skills making it difficult to be replaced. Great skills also give you better negotiating skills.
2. Bookings Determine Pecking Order: Ask for time off with little or no clientele—and your supervisor might just ask you to stay home. A big clientele is like money in the bank and improves your negotiating leverage. Remember how to get busy? i-Fabulous Salon Success program points to marketing yourself on and offline. But this effort is useless unless you work the salon six days a week and late nights, at least the first year. Getting busy is a 24-hour job—do not confuse with a 9-5 job. Show me a salon professional who comes in only for appointments, and I will show you someone who is not really making any money.
3. People You Don’t Like: School allows you to be yourself—and not deal with anyone you don’t like. In a salon, you need to work, with a smile, with people you may not stomach. What to do about this? find a salon where you mesh. Your struggle to succeed is intense enough without having to show up to a hostile environment. You don’t have to like everyone—but you must be able to overlook your feelings and work with everyone when necessary.
4. Leave If Not Happy: If you are dissatisfied with a salon job, give it at least 30-days. It is human nature to be uncomfortable with the unfamiliar. If after giving it your honest best you are still unhappy, don’t become the one that sits in the break room resenting all. Leave.
Many seasoned professionals look back on their first job and that their first job was a major influence on their career, the type of hair they do, the techniques they use, and ultimately the professional they became. Choose wisely.