Deciding to hire new employees, particularly new lash artists, is an exciting endeavour! That being said, you do want to make sure you do justice to your business. Finding the perfect lash stylist that not only has perfect art but is also the perfect fit for your salon culture — and stays for the long term — is much harder than one would think.
If you’ve been worrying about how to attract applicants and increase employee retention in your studio, you’re not alone. Luckily, we’ve rounded up this guide on every tried-and-true tip and strategy in the book to help you achieve both these goals!
1. Know your studio’s mission/values
What is at the heart of what you do? Why do you and other employees in the salon love being lash artists, nail techs, hair stylists? Is it because you love people? Love making a client’s day with a transformation, or helping them feel better about themselves? Do you have a passion for the science behind lash extensions and other beauty services, or enjoy your salon being a client’s safe, relaxing haven for a few hours?
Whatever it is, take a few minutes to write it down — first in paragraph form, then in a sentence, and lastly into just a few pithy words. Try to capture the essence of your lash studio, the atmosphere, values, and mission that define your studio and set it apart from every other one in the area that offers similar services. Once you’ve defined it, post it everywhere! Place the “paragraph” and phrase on your website, just the phrase on your studio’s Instagram and Facebook pages, and even get the phrase hung somewhere on a wall to remind yourself and your employees of what makes this lash studio unique. Make sure to include these defined mission and values in job descriptions as well; you’re more likely to attract applicants who align with your salon’s values if you do, which leads to employees who are much more likely to stay for the long term.
2. Spend time identifying the right skills you want
When crafting job descriptions or advertisements for the position, make sure that you take a few moments to identify the specific skills you want your new employee to possess. Do you need an expert in mega volume lashes specifically, or a lash tech with a bomb lash lift technique? Think about all these qualifications in advance to save both your and the applicants' time. On the soft skills side, perhaps you need someone who’s leagues more unflappable than the average lash stylist in the face of demanding, obnoxious clients. Think through the top three qualities you need in your next hire, and boil it down to a few specific catchphrases — such as “2-3 years Russian and mega volume experience” or “proven capability to graciously handle exceedingly difficult clientele”.
An added bonus from this exercise? Now that you’ve put what you’re searching for in words, you’ll subconsciously be able to sift through resumes and applications by keeping key words and phrases that indicate mutual alignment on these skills. This greatly reduces the time you spend narrowing down applicants. Furthermore, keeping these key qualities in mind will assist you in tailoring interview questions geared towards assessing practical applications of these skills in the candidate’s job history.
3. Allow employees to be themselves and express their creativity
Being a lash artist is an inherently challenging, creative endeavor that tests many different skills — lashing, of course, but also scientific knowledge, people skills, time management, social media marketing, business savvy, and salesmanship. Not every lash tech, however, approaches each of these vital components in quite the same way. Some stylists, for example, may be more comfortable allowing clients to lead with what they believe they want for their eyes; others operate better when allowed to take charge and steer clients towards their professional opinion of the type of lashes that would look best for them. Neither method is wrong, and unless an employee’s strategy is repelling clients or losing the studio serious money, it’s in your best interest to allow employees flexibility and control over how they work.
Forcing employees to operate in a manner antithetical to their nature will reek of inauthenticity to even the least discerning clients, and ultimately lose you out on business. Tempting as it may be to make all lash artists in your employ to do things one way, such a move will only backfire in the long run.
4. Have fair, competitive compensation structures
Like it or not, pay is often one of the biggest motivators for whether employees stay, go, or even apply to a position in the first place. After all, without enough money to pay bills, enjoy one’s life, and take care of emergencies, employees are far more likely to jump ship the second an opportunity comes along for higher wages. Make sure that your compensation structures are rewarding your lash artists the way they deserve, and it’ll keep current employees happy — and prospective ones knocking down the door. Spend time researching what is common in your area and how you’ll structure it. Will it be salaried? Commission-based? Booth-rental? Often times these numbers are dependent on your city/town and how you are structured.
5. Think about benefits
Employees need and want to feel taken care of! In the United States, almost all employee benefits are tied to the employer. For any salaried employees, consider offering generous paid time off policies that don’t leave anyone feeling like they have to choose between paying their bills and enjoying hard-earned vacations or time with loved ones. Strive to create an atmosphere in which hourly and tipped employees do not feel guilty for taking time off when they need or want to (within reason, of course), and that their jobs won’t be endangered by doing so. This can be expensive so think through what you are able to offer.
There are many benefits you can provide that are not only linked to vacation. For example, if you’d like to subsidize a portion of healthcare, you can consider a dollar amount to reimburse each month. There are platforms designed for healthcare reimbursements specifically for small businesses (Stride Healthcare, Take Command Healthcare are some examples!). You can also think about benefits such as a Volunteer Day for your team, Mental Health Days, learning & development budget (reimbursement for attending classes), free coffee/tea, ordering lunch once a month, and other perks that you think your employees would really value.
6. Be supportive of those who leave
As much as we’d all love our best lash stylists to stay, sometimes it is simply time for them to move on, no matter how much you sweeten the deal. However, key to employee retention and attraction is treating those who leave with as much respect and love as you would if they were staying. When hiring new employees, we recommend against placing excessive non-compete agreements in their employment contracts barring them from working the same job within an excessively large radius. (More often than not, egregious non-competes usually don’t hold up in court anyway. Some states, like California, have outlawed non-competes entirely on the basis that it’s unfair to prevent someone from practicing their livelihood where they live.)
The lashing industry is fairly small, and lash artists in one city or county are likely to at least knowofeach other, if not be acquainted outright. If other lash artists, studios, or salons in the area catch wind that your lash business burns bridges with departing employees, few people will want to work there, and current employees will feel like their professional growth doesn’t matter to you. Additionally, you never know when employees who leave the nest may wish to come back, or work with you again in the future!
7. Offer flexible hours
Many lash artists work part-time while doing other things, whether that’s doing esthetics at another salon or going back to school. On the other hand, even lash stylists who work full-time in one studio likely lead full, busy lives outside of work! Key to retaining employees is offering flexible schedules. When hiring a new artist, make note of the days and times they are available — and honor those by only making those hours part of their book-able schedule. Employees who feel supported in working the ways that best suit them are the most likely to stay.
An additional benefit to allowing flexible studio hours? You may even obtain more clients! If a new employee prefers to work, say, earlier in the morning or later in the evenings than your salon is usually open, consider making those hours part of your studio’s business day. Potential clients whose primary barrier to obtaining lash services may be workday time constraints are much more likely to spend their dollars on you if they now have the time to do so!
8. Have an open, safe employee culture
It’s one thing to hire great employees, but another altogether to keep them for the long term. One of the best ways to increase employee retention is to maintain an open, safe culture in your salon or studio, in which each lash artist feels valued, protected, and empowered to speak up when they’re dissatisfied. Promote a culture in which employees feel comfortable coming to you (or another trusted manager or senior person) with concerns and suggestions without fearing for their job, and employee wellness will skyrocket. Confident, happy employees make for excellent customer service, and in turn boost your salon’s reputation. Prospective employees will see that they’ll be treated well and respected when searching for new jobs, and will make applying to your studio their number one priority!
9. Offer variety in the job
A few employees out there may be perfectly happy doing the same thing each and every day. It’s very unlikely that those employees are lash artists! Most lash techs become lash techs precisely because the lash industry is a perennially changing, dynamic field, with many things to learn and connections to many other beauty services. And, of course, no two clients offer the same experience.
The key to attracting and retaining new employees is to preach the exciting, diverse array of opportunities within the role — and to practice what you preach! Advertise in each job advertisement you post that you provide each lash artist with the ability to challenge themselves and stretch their figurative limbs as they please (again, within reason!). When interviewing prospective employees, have examples ready of the types of opportunities that actually exist. If a lash stylist expresses interest in eventually adding lash lifts or tints to her book, for instance, show that you make time to train them in this new art and give them room to practice. If a lash artist wants to branch out into unrelated-to-lash services, such as brows, body waxing, or massage therapy, support them as much as it is possible for you and your budget to do so!
10. Reach out directly to people on LinkedIn
As nerve-wracking or futile as it may feel, LinkedIn is actually a fantastic way to reach out to potential employees whose profiles seem like they would be excellent candidates for your open position. Send short private messages to such candidates, and be direct. Don’t be turned off by people with incredible resumes who are already employed! Many people start new jobs from unsolicited LinkedIn messages from hiring managers. Plus, if you’re offering them a better opportunity than the one job they’re currently in, they’ll be likely to respond and begin the interview process with you.
Of course, it doesn’t hurt that you’re the one reaching out tothem! Prospective employees are much more likely to accept a job offer from someone who reached out and made them feel wanted in the first place.
11. Invest in employee growth
Lash artists want to feel like their full potential is noticed and supported. Remember what we said about offering variety in each position at your salon? Now you need to put your money where your mouth is! Consider paying for or subsidizing volume trainings for your master classic artists. Incentivize your more advanced employees to supervise their coworkers as they practice new crafts and techniques. (If you’re getting the sense that multiple of your employees wish to do a certain training, get smart and encourage them to do money-saving group trainings or salon/spa management trainings designed for multi-employee studios.)
How does this translate into hiring new lash artists? Advertise what you do! If it’s within your budget, implement an employee policy that you’ll subsidize training courses or compensate for time spent learning new skills. Once you do, mention this policy in each job description and adhere to it in real life! Employees who know their studio is temporally and financially committed to their growth are far more likely to stay, as well as make referrals to people they know and can vouch for when new positions open up.
12. Ask other artists you know to spread the word
As vast as the lash artist community may seem, it’s also a small town! Every single one of your employees went to school for cosmetology or esthetics, and completed a lash training course. Each of them may still have friends or contacts from their earlier days, or people they know from having attended workshops, seminars/webinars, or conventions. There’s a good chance that many of them, particularly those who graduated more recently, are still on alumni networks or listservs. Ask them to tap into these communities — they’ll likely know or learn about candidates that you wouldn’t easily find yourself.
13. Be communicative with candidates
Afford potential candidates the same courtesies you expect from them! Don’t keep employees waiting for answers or next steps; after each step in the interview process, send updates as soon as possible regarding their application status. If deliberation is taking too long or unexpected delays come up, let them know. Don’t ghost candidates either, no matter how bad of a choice they are or how certain you are they’re not the one. It’s not fair to you to have candidates pestering you with questions, and it’s not fair to them to be left wondering what their next steps should be, or if they should start hunting for another opportunity. Furthermore, if a candidate has a bad experience with you, they’re far more likely to badmouth your salon or recommend to others that they stay away.
14. Keep the interview process reasonably short
We also recommend keeping interview processes as short and sweet as possible. While we understand that it’s impossible to gauge everything you need to know about a potential hire in one thirty-minute phone screening, it’s also not necessary to go through tons of interview steps to have them meet every single person on the team. If possible, try to limit interviews to 2-3 rounds, and gather as many of your current employees as possible to meet with the candidate at once during their last round. If they are interviewing for a lash position, make sure there is a full demo as only the last step. You may want to consider being the model so you feel exactly how the clients would! Any more interviews than that are likely to simply be a waste of both your time and theirs; if you’re still unsure about a candidate after round three, it’s unlikely that they’re the one. Cut your losses, let them know politely, and move on to finding the lash artist of your dreams!
15. Host an event for local lash artists!
If you know or at least have the contact information of enough of the lash stylists in your community, consider hosting a casual happy hour at a local restaurant or bar for all lash and beauty professionals to get to know each other in a fun, no-stakes setting. You don’t have to do this alone! Your studio can sponsor it, or you and the other lash techs in your salon can co-host it together to alleviate the pressure of doing it all yourself. If the event takes off, you can even make it a regular thing, perhaps once a month or so.
16. Post regularly about your positions on social media
As an institution of a very visual medium, your salon should already haveat leastan Instagram account where you post regular, professional pictures of your artists’ amazing lash work. If you’re not already doing so, consider upping your posting schedule to once every day or every other day to help increase engagement and views to your salon’s page. This way, once it comes time to advertise for new positions, you’ll be sure to reach the widest audience possible.
Instagram isn’t the only place for finding the best new lash artist! Join Facebook groups for lash artists and beauty professionals, and advertise the heck out of your job postings; most of the bigger Facebook groups consist of thousands of people all over the country and even different countries, and should be able to boost your listing to eventually find the right person. LinkedIn is also a great place to find new hires, of course, with the added benefit that anyone checking their LinkedIn is usually doing so with an eye towards career advancement and professional development.
17. Have a professional website
While this may seem like an obvious bullet point, you’d be surprised how many smaller salons and studios often don’t have professional websites. Even if you’re not a huge, expensive New York City salon, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t have an accessible, aesthetically-pleasing website that matches your brand and values. Potential applicants are sure to Google your studio before applying to your positions or attending interviews to get an initial feel for its professional vibe, read up on your current employee bios, company size, and mission.
Even though it may not seem like it, it’s worth it to spend a few extra bucks hiring a professional to set up a professional website for your studio, incorporate your current booking system into it, and perform routine maintenance and updates. Not only will such a website grant an extra layer of legitimacy to your studio, but you’ll likely reach clients who may not use social media and therefore can’t find you via Instagram or Facebook. An added bonus? You can maintain a separate “Careers” or “Job Listings” tab on a real website, and write out longer, fleshed-out descriptions of the role(s) you’re hiring for. You can then simply link to the full description when posting advertisements or sending out emails, rather then copying and pasting a shorter description in each new material.
18. Offer rewards for referrals
You may already have a similar reward program for your clients, and now it’s time to implement one for your hiring process! Consider advertising a referral reward for anyone who finds you your next lash tech, whether that’s a cash bonus, gift card to your studio, or a month of free or discounted services. There’s nothing like a prize at the end of the tunnel to motivate folks to come forward with their talented friends and family!
19. Have business cards always with you
Always keep at least 3-5 business cards with you in your wallet. If you currently don’t have any, now’s the perfect time to make some! They don’t need to be fancy; just have your name, title (lash artist/lash services professional/whatever best suits your professional persona!), phone number and email address, place of work, and a link to your social media. If you’re a manager or senior employee of your salon, place that there too. You never know where you’re going to meet potential new employees, whether it’s at the next beauty trade show or simply at the grocery store or a night out with friends. One can never be too prepared!
20. Invite students/artists/for industry tours
Many students currently in cosmetology or esthetician programs may be vaguely aware of what lash extensions are, but may not actually be aware of what a lash artist’s day-to-day looks like. The same even applies for licensed cosmetologists and estheticians who have been working in other segments of the beauty industry.
If you feel comfortable doing so, hosting short tours of your salon to students and aspiring lash artists alike is a great way to forge connections with the next generation of lash artists while getting your salon top of mind of places to apply when they decide to apply for jobs. Remove the mystique surrounding the lash business and invite students or interested future lash techs to come to your salon and spend acouple of hours learning about the ins and outs of life as a lash stylist. Show them around the salon, what a lash artist’s supplies look like, how long appointments take, and just be there to answer any questions.
21. Offer trial run employment periods
Consider offering trial runs that allow you to try out candidates who you love but may be unsure if they’re theperfectfit for you. For instance, perhaps you’ve met an amazing cosmetologist who just finished training to become a lash stylist. She’d be the perfect fit based on all your other criteria, and would be a wonderful fit into your salon’s company culture...except that she doesn’t have the experience you’re looking for.
If you’re not pressed for time and have the funds to do so, consider hiring her on for a three-month trial period that allows you to see if she can learn fast or well enough for the full-time role. Allow her to shadow your other lash artists and take on a few low-stakes clients. At the end of the trial period, if you don’t think it’ll work out immediately, you can part ways on friendly, professional terms — and with a new name to keep in mind for the future after she’s gained the requisite experience.
22. If possible, implement an internship or job shadowing program
If your salon is on the bigger side, consider implementing an actual, regular internship program that coincides with holidays and gaps in the school schedules of local cosmetology and esthetics programs. Hire paid 1-2 interns per cycle to shadow your current lash artists, learn the business and daily life of a lash tech, and get comfortable interacting with and consulting clients. (You can even have them start doing consultations for your lash artists, collaborating with them to create the best looks for their clients, or save the stylists’ time between appointments by giving new clients the proper aftercare spiel + demonstration!)
Of course, if they’re not licensed cosmetologists/estheticians and have yet to complete their lash training, they can’t actually physically take on clients. However, they can help out around the salon, practice isolating or placing a few lashes with real lash extension tweezers under direct supervision from one of your lash techs, and otherwise absorb every other important skill that will be useful for their future careers.
The upside for you is that if an intern turns out to be amazing at what they do, you can offer them full-time positions once they’ve completed all required programs. Plus, since they’ll have learned everything they need to know from your studio, you won’t have to worry about training them in things outside hires don’t know — saving you time and money!
23. Host competitions
Prompt beauty students and other lash artists to seek your studio out and demonstrate their work to you! Bring talented lash artists to your doorstep by hosting social media-wide competitions for, say, the best classic, hybrid, and volume sets. Offer rewards just for participation, such as a hefty percentage off any one-time service at your salon, to incentivize already-employed lash techs to participate as well. Not only will you attract more attention to your salon simply by hosting such a competition, but you’re likely to find your next lash tech just from the mini-portfolios you’ll receive in the form of contest submissions. If you feel comfortable doing so, consider even suggesting (but not committing!) in advertisements that winners are likely to place themselves in the running for job offers.