Management Practices

Recruiting from the Trenches

Karie Bennett | September 29, 2011 | 4:57 PM
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At the Vitamin Water Fashion Challenge, Karie Bennett demonstrates a technique for a student from the San Francisco Institute of Esthetics and Cosmetology A Paul Mitchell School.
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For the Vitamin Water Fashion Challenge, Karie Bennett recruited volunteers from the San Francisco Institute of Esthetics and Cosmetology, A Paul Mitchell School.
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A student applies makeup to one of the models in the Vitamin Water Fashion Challenge.
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The students select their makeup palette.
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Recruiting future superstars from the beauty colleges in my area has always been an important component in our business growth.   I recently attended two different job fair events at nearby beauty colleges.  One was in the morning, and our salon had a table with our menus, a continuous looping powerpoint presenation of our salon, our press coverage, and I brought a couple of my superstar stylists to talk to the students about our program.  The students moved from table to table, asking questions, and gathering collateral from each salon.

The second event we attended was an evening event, with champagne and nibbles, and the students had each styled a model, so the salon owners could see examples of their work, and we walked around, meeting the students, and collecting their resumes and their creative calling cards.

I am sure most owners have attended similar events. Both methods get the job done—we met the students and let them know who we are at Atelier, and what we have to offer.  We hope to be memorable, so they will apply for employment with us, and they hope they made a good impression on us.  Both events lasted for an hour or two in a room filled with both salons and students, so one-on-one time is limited. 

Just a week after these events occurred though, I got a call from a fashion show producer that I work with fairly often.  She needed a beauty team for the Vitamin Water Fashion Challenge, a show taking place within two weeks in San Francisco, about 45 minutes north of my home base.  The beauty team originally scheduled for the event wasn't responding to calls, and a replacement was needed. The models were professional, and there was even a Project Runway star Mondo Guerra on hand as a guest judge.  It was a very well-produced show.  All that was needed was for the models to look fabulous, with a consistent look, so the focus would remain on the clothing.

The venue was close to the San Francisco Institute of Esthetics and Cosmetology--a Paul Mitchell Partner School--one of the bigger beauty colleges in town, and I thought the students might enjoy the experience.  Lucky for me, they were excited to participate, and I had my team—12 cosmetology students.  From 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. I not only had the chance to observe these students in action, but I got to know them a bit more, and found I was really impressed.  Now mind you, these students won an in-school competition in order to work this event, so these were the cream of the crop, and they really were amazing.

First, they arrived completely prepared: they each had their own hair and makeup kits.  They were dressed professionally, in all black, and had their hair and makeup done perfectly.  Once we had a concept meeting, where I led them through the look the producer and the designers wanted, the models arrived and each student got right to work on the makeup first, hair second.  At only a couple of different points in the process did the students ask me for an opinion or to take a look, "Is this what you had in mind?"  They were very open and ready to learn and there was not an ego in sight.  In the few occasions where I needed to take the reins on a technique, every one of them was extremely willing to watch and learn.  And then they duplicated the look themselves.  They were respectful and professional, and I was completely blown away.  These students were awesome! 

That’s when it hit me--job fairs had nothing on this.  Getting the chance to spend a few hours with the students, watching their work ethic, how they communicate, how they maintained a neat work environment, how they treated their peers, their modesl, and even how they worked with me--really told me so much more about these future professionals than a short introduction ever could.  Spending this kind of time with people I would consider hiring in the future was unbelievably valuable.

I highly recommend it!

Thanks, SFIEC, for sending your wonderful design team to work with me on the Vitamin Water Fashion Challenge.  Your students were fantastic!

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