Two weeks ago, we all laughed together and learned how not to write an employment advertisement. Now, I’ll tell you how to do it the right way.


Quick Disclaimer: This post is pulled directly from my second book’s draft. The preamble to this section of the chapter includes a bunch of information (determining whether or not you’re ready for another employee, calculating the cost of the employee, setting aside a promotional budget for introducing the new employee to the community, etc.), but because this is a blog post and not an entire 6,000 word section of a book, I’ve cut it down to focus on the narrow topic of writing the employment ad.


When it’s time for you to add a new member to your team, you’ll have to write and distribute an employment ad. Before you sit down to craft the perfect advertisement for your open position, take some time to outline what you’re looking for. You can do this on a whiteboard, a piece of paper, or in a blank draft on your favorite word processor. Use a poster board and some blueberry-scented Crayola markers if you want, just so long as you get your needs, wants, and requirements on paper.

1.) Outline your needs. Needs include things like schedule coverage, experience, and duties. What days/hours do you definitely need an employee to be there? What tasks will they definitely be required to do? What skills will they definitely need to possess in order for them to be useful? If you’re unsure of these things, you’re not ready for another employee.

2.) List your wants. Wants are preferences. You might not need someone to have flexible availability, but it would be nice, right? Perhaps you don’t need a stylist who is also willing to perform sugaring services, but you could certainly use someone with those skills if they happened to come along.

Your wants shouldn’t go into the draft, but keep that list handy. If you end up with a few viable candidates, you can reference the “wants” list to determine which would be most useful.

IF “A FULL CLIENTELE” IS ON EITHER LIST, STOP NOW.

You only offer jobs to salon professionals when you have an excess of clients–an actual job to be done. If that job is “bring clients to my salon,” you don’t need a stylist, esthetician, or nail technician, you need a marketing director.

3.) Craft a hook. Create an ad people will actually want to read so you can attract the most eyes. The more people who see your ad, the more applicants you’ll get, and that’s what you want—a huge pool of professionals to choose from.

Set your ad apart with a catchy first sentence or job title. Don’t duplicate the same tired lines.

For example:

“Need nail technician.”

Obviously you need a nail technician. If you didn’t, you wouldn’t be posting an ad. This headline is invisible. Nobody is prioritizing that post.

“We’re hiring!”

Again–duh. This post also doesn’t stand out.

“Open position for stylist at Salon X.”

This headline is slightly better, but only because it’s more informative. Aside from that, this line will disappear in the list of similar posts.

“Opportunity of a LIFETIME!”

I see these a lot, and my reaction is always, “Yikes.” If I click on this ad, will the Slap Chop guy show up in my living room trying to get me to join a cult-like multi-level marketing scheme? This reads like Amway recruitment material. Unless this really is the opportunity of a lifetime, you’re overselling.

Here are some better ones:

“Our clients are sad and it’s your fault.” 

This ad would include a picture of some sad people. It would tell the story of a salon that is overwhelmed with despondent clients who are forced to sit on their ever-expanding waiting list until a new hire comes in to save the day.

“Remember when you used to mean it when you told clients you loved your job?”

This ad would go on to paint a picture of the reader’s first years in the business and the passion they had that gradually faded. It would encourage them to rekindle the love of their craft by joining your team.

“DON’T be your own boss!” 

This ad would stand out from all the ads with the opposite headline. Many renters actually don’t want to be renters. They’d rather be working as part of a team for someone who knows what the hell they’re doing. The trouble is, those salon owners are incredibly difficult to find so many renters feel they don’t have a choice but to work for themselves. This ad lets the reader know all of the awesome benefits to being an employee at your salon while jokingly pointing out all the obnoxious things about self-employment that none of those suite rental companies want them to know.

Get creative with the angle you approach talent from. If you want your ad to stick in the minds of potential applicants, you have to be willing to get weird. Apple, for instance, posted a job ad seeking a “Senior Armageddon Avoidance Engineer.”

Personally, I prefer to turn job postings into stories where the applicant plays a vital role. People can’t relate to long bullet lists full of snooze-inducing formal wording, but they can relate to stories. If you can make them laugh, that’s even better.

4.) Identify yourself. What is your salon’s name? Who is the manager/owner? Where are you located?

Link the salon’s website. It’s important to share this information so potential applicants can do their research and determine whether or not your workplace fits them.

For example, in case you couldn’t tell by now, I’m an uppity bitch. Despite my brazen and sometimes violent, profanity-spiced writing, my work style in general is extremely formal. I show up to the salon in a suit, heels, and diamonds with my hair, nails, and makeup done. I look like an executive because that’s how I feel comfortable looking when I’m at work. I gravitate to places that fit my style—highly structured, ultra-professional spas built to ensure the utmost relaxation where clients wear plush robes and the uniformed employees are trained to speak in hushed tones only when they’re spoken to. It’s not just that I prefer the atmosphere, it’s that those environments attract certain types of coworkers. Beauty workers who value order, teamwork, and professionalism are my people.

Do you think I would want to work at a trendy, hip salon where loud music thumps the walls all day long, every employee wears fishnets and cutoff midriff shirts, and nobody has a single strand of hair that isn’t dyed day-glow colors? Would I “mesh” with stylists who are permitted to be eccentric, dramatic, and have uncensored conversations at work? Would I be comfortable in a high-energy, casual environment like that?

Absolutely not. I’m an introvert who takes her job maybe a little too seriously. That type of salon goes against my personality and my professional philosophies. I cringe internally just thinking about it.

Don’t put an applicant in an awkward position by failing to disclose exactly who you are and what your brand stands for. Give them the opportunity to evaluate your salon for themselves before they waste any of your time with a fruitless interview.

5.) Spell out your offer. Stop allowing people to waste your time and stop wasting the time of your applicants. Lay your cards out. Are you offering benefits like health insurance, paid time off, or continuing education?

How do you compensate? What is the salary range? If you know your numbers, you should know exactly how much you can afford to pay a new hire. If you don’t, stop now and don’t come back until you have a solid figure that you can put into the ad. (And yes, it needs to be a solid figure, not a percentage of gross sales. Get with the program, salon owners. Drop that weak commission-only model and start doing right by your salon and your employees.)

Don’t require an applicant to sit through an interview only to realize that they couldn’t afford to take your offer even if they wanted to.

6.) Sell yourself. Why should an applicant choose your salon above all others? Job interviews are a two-way street. You have to prove yourself to a quality applicant the same way they have to prove themselves to you. Why would a talented professional with a variety of options choose to respond to an employment ad that only lists the company’s requirements of them, without detailing the reasons why that business is worth their time and skill above all others?

What makes your business a great workplace? Try to stay away from generic, overused tripe like, “great team dynamic,” and “upscale clientele.” Like I said in the Craigslist post, the word “upscale” has no meaning anymore, so abandon it.

REMINDER: “DRAMA-FREE” IS NOT AN APPROPRIATE SELLING POINT.

First of all, “drama-free” is expected of a professional workplace. It’s not something that you should ever feel compelled to spell out. Secondly, “drama-free” isn’t something you can ever guarantee, especially in a salon. Even the most mundane workplaces have drama from time to time, and we all know that salons are anything but mundane workplaces.

Leave it out. Including that type of terminology does nothing but identify you as an amateur. Aside from that, it may attract the wrong kind of employee. (I don’t know about you, but in my extensive experience interviewing applicants, the people who seemed so desperate for a “drama-free” workplace ended up being the biggest perpetrators of shit disruption themselves.)

Aside from the term “drama-free,” nothing turns me off to a salon more than when their ads are completely centered on their needs and requirements. Applicants want to know why you’re worth working for and what’s in it for them—so tell them.

7.) Lay out your requirements. Will you require a drug test? How about a background check? At the very least, when hiring a service provider you’ll want to see proof of a valid, current license, along with identification (driver’s license or photo ID) and citizenship verification (in the form of a W-9 or work visa). Make sure that’s written out on your draft. (You’d be surprised how many unlicensed people show up to an interview, hoping the salon owner won’t ask.)

8.) Give instructions. How do you want the applicants to apply? What information/credentials do you expect them to supply you with? Who should they contact and how can they contact that person?

I consider this application process a potential new hire’s first test. Anyone who fails to follow the instructions won’t be interviewed at all. If your ad specifically instructs new hires not to walk-in, but to call for an appointment, do not entertain an applicant who shows up unannounced expecting an interview. If your ad states that applicants must bring a resume, do not make time for an applicant who doesn’t present one. Those failures are acts of laziness at best and defiance at worst. At some point, that applicant made the decision to outright ignore your requests. If they’re willing to defy and/or ignore before they’ve even been hired, what kind of behaviors do you think they’ll display once they’re on your payroll?

9.) Put it all together. When you’re done, your ad will look something like this:

[HOOK]
[ABOUT THE SALON]
[ABOUT THE POSITION]
[ABOUT THE REQUIREMENTS]
[WHAT THE SALON OFFERS]
[HOW TO APPLY]

The order your ad is written in may differ from the above, depending on how you write it. There is no “proper” formula. Get creative, just be sure all the critical information is present. Take time to think of all the questions a job-seeker would ask before submitting a resume, then work those answers into the ad.

10.) Re-re-re-read and check your spelling. Go over the ad at least three times. Once isn’t enough. The first pass, you’ll check for obvious errors. On the second pass, check your homonyms and contractions. Then you’ll wait a day. Go to bed, sleep, and re-read it after you’ve had your coffee in the morning. On your third pass, pick through every word and every sentence. Speak the words aloud to test readability. Then, give it to a friend (or three) and have them read it over.

Does that sound excessive? Unless you were an English major, it’s necessary. You have one shot at a first impression. Your applicants won’t be the only people reading that employment ad. Your competitors will be reading it too, and there’s the possibility some potential clients might stumble upon it also. Attention to detail matters.

REMINDER: We do not half-ass anything.


Example

Unvarnished Hand & Foot Co. Seeks Crisis Interventionist (Nail Technician)

Here at Unvarnished Hand & Foot Co., we’ve worked hard for the last five years to build a thriving business with a reputation for excellence. Fortunately, we succeeded. Unfortunately, we weren’t exactly prepared for that success. Now, we’re booked solid with standing clients and our wait list is long enough to stretch from one side of the salon to the other.

Clearly, this crisis requires immediate resolution.

Do you hold a valid cosmetology or nail technology license in the state of Florida? Are you looking for full-time employment at a salon that offers guaranteed base wages of $15 an hour plus commission bonuses and benefits like health insurance and continuing education?

Our ideal candidate will have an active occupational license in good standing and will share our strong commitments to promptness, professionalism, and client safety.

Why should you come work with us? Plenty of reasons! Unvarnished is owned and managed by Tina Alberino, a salon management consultant and fierce advocate for the rights of beauty workers, so you’ll find that our policies and practices are quite different than what you’re probably used to.

  • We strongly believe nail technicians should spend their time at work doing what they love, so your job duties will include performing manicures and pedicures. That’s it. No toilet scrubbing, reception duties, “marketing” yourself, counting inventory, or sitting around waiting for clients without pay. (Who has time for that? Click here to view our job description for Nail Technicians.)
  • We provide all tools and equipment, including implements and product. You will never be charged arbitrary fees for supplies or “redos.”
  • We won’t throw you to the wolves. All employees are trained in our service protocols, so you’ll never feel lost or unprepared.
  • We follow the law and contribute to our employees’ taxes like all good employers should. Our employees are just that—employees. (That means NO 1099’s!)
  • We support your continued professional development by holding monthly technical workshops—and yes, you’ll be paid to participate.

How important is skill level/experience? Not crazy important. We provide every employee with extensive training to ensure mastery of our service protocols, so we greatly prioritize hard-working applicants with positive attitudes, regardless of their skill level.

Check out our website to get a feel for us and our salon. If you think we might be right for you, please email us at unwind@unvarnishedsalon.com. Be sure to attach your resume, as applications lacking them won’t be considered. We will contact you within two business days to schedule an interview.

Please do not call or show up unannounced expecting an audience with management. Like we said, we’re extremely busy handling this ongoing crisis, so appointments are required.

We hope to hear from you soon!


You’ll notice that my pretend employment ad reads more like an advertisement, selling my salon to the prospective employee. Only one line lists my requirements. The rest explains who we are, what we offer, and why we need a technician. The ad is worded in a way that lets readers know what kind of salon we are. That ad is written by people, for people. It’s not a list of requirements or a boring paragraph about our expectations.

I know this post was long, but I hope you guys found it helpful! If you’re interested, you can click here to purchase my first book (The Beauty Industry Survival Guide). I’m working pretty hard on the second one, but I plan to drop in a few more excerpts of chapters along the way. Hopefully, I’ll have a more solid release date in the next month or so!

EDITED TO ADD: No, we’re not really hiring right now. There are several things you need before you can justify hiring a new worker–clients, money, and time to train them. We have a whole lot of the first two, but none of the third. New hires are a lot like puppies. They require and deserve your full attention. Both Annette and I are way too busy right now to take on that tremendous responsibility. When we are, I’ll be sure to post about it here and on the blog’s Facebook page.

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2 COMMENTS

  1. I know you say re-re-re-read, but you missed one. It’s “midriff,” not “mid-drift.” But otherwise, MAN, I wish I worked at that imaginary salon/spa.

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