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Beauty school grads need competitive edge during job search

By Laurie McLachlan Brown

The beauty industry job market is good; although turnover is down.  With a lagging economy, many hair stylists, nail technicians, estheticians, barbers, and make-up artists are sticking it out at their current positions, waiting for things to turn around before taking their next step.

What does that mean for recent design academy graduates?  Competition for jobs is tough. Yet, there are many things a student can do to give herself a competitive edge in the marketplace.  

To start, most graduates of beauty institutes can still look to their school’s job placement counselors for help.  These professionals have extensive contacts in salons, day spas, hotels, cruise ships, medical offices, and resorts, and are usually pretty good sources of information and networking.

But don’t wait until graduation to get started on a great career. While in school, make a name for yourself by outperforming all expectations.  When top salons call the job placement counselor at your design school, your name should be at the tip of his/her tongue as the most talented, most driven, and most organized student. 

Second, during off hours, research potential employers—long before your cosmetology program is complete.  Establish networks by visiting salons, attending trade shows, talking to beauty industry professionals, and handing out business cards. While at salons, day spas, hotels, or resorts, identify what positions might be opening up and ask what is required of new stylists so that you can apply that at school the very next day.

Third, use the Internet.  There are plenty of job search sites specifically geared toward the cosmetology and fashion industries, such as (for opportunities worldwide), or  Some of the most popular, comprehensive, and reputable job search sites include,, and  Which websites and/or recruitment agencies should you avoid at all costs?  Any company—including one that claims it has special connections in the salon industry—that requires job seekers to purchase a subscription to access job listings. Employers pay websites to list their open positions, not the other way around.

Next, create your own website or online slideshow to showcase your artistic talents, especially if you’re applying for design jobs nationwide, or even internationally.  A link to your gallery of photos will impress the salon or day spa manager, and put you at the top of his or her consideration list. 

Lastly, create a great resume, listing any and all jobs related to your job search.  Account for gaps in employment, be brief yet descriptive, use measurements (“during my internship at the salon I exceed product sales goals by 20 percent), and keep it to one page.

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