We all know millennials are leading in the workplace and are infiltrating all areas of business, and the beauty and service industry is no different. Millennials are steeped in stigma. Stigmas around professionalism, work ethic, and general expertise. I guess I should categorize myself as a millennial. I really don't want too, but I've encountered my share of stigma. As an esthetician, I would like to feel like my clients look up to me and value my opinion as a licensed practitioner. Unfortunately, when you have a babyface or look likes your client's niece in college you might have to hurdles to jump to establish yourself in a place of authority.
I'd like to offer a few of the most common obstacles I've encountered as a millennial esthetician with clients and colleges, then offer some helpful solutions you can use to overcome them.
The time-tell probing question, "How long have you been doing this for?"
If I had a dollar for everytime someone has asked me this question I think I'd be relaxing on a beach somewhere. Some clients ask this question out of general curiosity. Others ask to gauge your knowledge, equating longevity with proficiency. (Which you should know is not the case.) Always answer this question answer truthfully, whether it's been 9 years or 9 months. Your expertise will become evident when you conduct your consultations and attend to your client's needs. Also, if you like, you can also hang any certificates and achievements in your treatment room. It looks impressive and can ease the minds of any worried clients.
The "Power Struggle" Client
Every now and then you may encounter the client that feels they know more than you do or doesn't trust your professional recommendations. This can be very frustrating for the millennial esthetician that just wants the best for their clients. Continue to reassure your client that you're a trained practitioner and they should trust your recommendations. Also communicate, communicate, communicate with your clients. Inform them of every step of your process. When performing treatments let clients know about the next steps and ensure they understand what is happening to their skin. After the treatment communicate with them what they should expect afterward and any post-care they should do at home. When the client hears your knowledge and ability to foresee any unexpected roadblocks, they will grow to trust you in the treatment room.
Hierarchy/Seniority in the workplace
If you're the new kid on the block in your spa or office it can be tough getting noticed when there are more senior practitioners that work alongside you. Standing out and establishing yourself doesn't have to be stressful. Don't give into the urge to prove yourself. Adhere to the rules, work hard to impress your clients, and continue to add education tools to your toolbelt. Educating yourself and learning a new specialty will put you on the level with your seasoned counterparts. In addition, if you can find a senior esthetician that's willing to take you under there wing, that's great as well. Having a mentor to show you the in's and out's and clue you in on common mistakes, before you make them, can save you from future shortcomings. Finding this relationship can be hard sometimes because estheticians are notoriously private and territorial. Tread lightly, try not to step on any toes, and always be friendly. Once you find a willing mentor you'll have a wealth of knowledge at your fingertips.
"I'd like to speak to your manager."
As a millennial, you may or may not struggle with confidence. If you're new to a leadership role you can second guess yourself or overcompensate for your role. The testing of boundaries isn't uncommon for your subordinates and clients. Don't let it rattle you! Keep your calm and remember that it's not personal. You're here to do a job and produce results for your company. Never raise your voice. I also can't stress enough the importance of trusting your intuition. Whenever you feel that something isn't right or that a situation is headed south, LISTEN. Listen to your intuition and plan for the contingencies.
Breaking the Mold
For centuries the esthetic industry has been, for the most part, unchanging. The standard image has been the technician in the white lab coat with the ballerina pulled back bun. All of these traditions and antiquated ideas of what the spa world should be can feel stifling to the modern day millennial esty. The millennial esty may want to be bold and colorful, or just let their own personality shine through more in their practice. I personally have struggled with overcoming the mold that most estheticians are placed in. Now, I wear my hair in funky colors, and come to work dressed in fashions that I feel best represent me, not a stuffy lab coat, and I play modern music in my treatment room too. Breaking the mold not only applies to appearance, it also applies to groundbreaking practices. Do things that no one would think to be in a spa. Play a cool podcast for your client instead of whales and windchimes. Explore new tech and apps to wow your clients and boost marketing. Borrow from other areas of industry and adapt them to your practice to give yourself a leg up on the competition. These new practices will be the stamp on your brand to really make you stand-out from the rest of your colleagues.
"If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude."
In conclusion, young millennials get a bad rap. That's no different for estheticians. We have to prove ourselves in the workplace to our colleagues, and we have to earn the trusts of our clients. Everyone's experiences with this are different, but the conclusion is to trust yourself and continue to educate yourself. Learn from your experiences and save them away in your memory box. These memories will serve you well in your career and build you to be a confident, experienced, professional esthetician.