Advice for South African Therapists Seeking Beauty Jobs in London

About Linda Hill

Linda Hill owns and manages a recruitment agency dedicated to the beauty, aesthetic and hair industry. Linda is originally from Cape Town where she completed a teaching degree from the University of Stellenbosch. After a year of backpacking around America and Europe, she returned to Cape Town to teach for a few years while studying for a public relations diploma.

Linda moved to London where she studied as a beauty therapist and obtained the CIBTAC and CIDESCO diplomas. The next few years were spent working in various salons, spas and hotels. Linda also lectured beauty therapy and then went on to work as a health and beauty manager. As Acting General Manager of a health club chain she has the responsibility to recruit for various departments.

Today Linda applies her expert knowledge to help candidates and businesses realise their potential and achieve their goals. Linda is also experienced in assisting South African therapists find beauty jobs in the UK. Here she takes some time out to share her hot tips with hair and beauty jobs for successfully moving to and landing a beauty job in the UK.

Q. How are South Africans able to work in the UK?

Unfortunately the working holiday visa is a thing of the past. South Africans wishing to visit the UK cannot merely rely on their passports to gain them access. They will need to apply for a visa to grant them entry. Even transit visas will be mandatory for South Africans from March 2009.

For those South Africans wishing to work in the UK a few options remain:

  1. Tier 1 visa: points based method of immigration. Designed to attract the most highly skilled and talented migrants. You do not need an employer to sponsor you for this work permit
    A minimum of 75 points are required
    Up to 75 points for attributes (age, qualifications, previous experience in the UK)
    Up to 10 points for English Language
    Up to 10 points for maintenance (funds)
  2. Tier 2 visa: Applicants must have received an offer of employment from a registered UK employer. Applicants must be in possession of certificate of sponsorship. Candidates are assessed against points test (pass mark is currently 50 points)
  3. Spouse or life partner visa
  4. Ancestral Visa

Q. Who can assist with the application process?

For more information on visas and to find out if you qualify contact the British High Commission in Pretoria on +27 12 4217600.

Q. Before committing to a move abroad what are essential things to consider?

The most important expectation to have when considering a move abroad is to do it for the experience. I have met so many South Africans that have unrealistic expectations when they come to London. They don't realise that the cost of living is extremely high. Travelling broadens your horizons and the opportunity to work in a different country is such a privilege. I can highly recommend it and the memories from your year abroad will be cherished for the rest of your life.

Q. What beauty qualifications is it advisable to obtain before moving to the UK and why?

Make sure you do an internationally recognised qualification before you go over to the UK. CIDESCO is highly sought after as UK employers will know your standard of training. Some South African colleges are also offering CIBTAC and BTEC diplomas. Having one of these will also ensure that you are able to get insurance once you are in the UK.

Q. What perception do UK employers/recruiters have of SA therapists?

I think the South African therapists have a reputation for being extremely hard working. They have a natural ability to make clients feel welcome and their treatments are of a very high standard. One thing to note though is that South Africans in London can be labelled as slightly arrogant. So as a therapists that is just coming over bear in mind that you are a guest in someone else's country. So do not keep on referring to how things are done in South Africa. Embrace your new life and the culture.

Q. How does SA beauty education compare to UK? What aspects of their training should a SA therapist highlight to UK employers?

Having done my beauty qualifications in the UK I can definitely say that the South African education is far superior to that in the UK. In my opinion the UK education system needs to move with the times. We are in such a fast growing industry that the curriculum taught to students needs continuous upgrading. The South African industry have definitely realised this and subjects such as teeth whitening, Brazilian waxing, spray tanning and microdermabrasion are taught at many colleges. I think the South African therapists have the advantage of being able to offer a far wider variety of treatments. This makes them more employable and a bigger asset to a company. I think South African therapists should make UK employers aware of all the different treatments that they are able to offer. They take it for granted that most therapists can do advanced and holistic treatments alongside the more traditional ones.

Q. What useful tips can you give for tailoring a CV & cover note for the UK market? What hurdles are there to overcome?

South African CV's are very long and cumbersome. You don't need to include your ID number, whether you have a code 8 licence and all your high school achievements.

Keep your CV concise and preferably two pages long or three at the most. I find that so many applicants don't do a spell check before sending their CV's. Check that all your contact details are correct. Make sure you include an email address and cell number. Create an appropriate email address that you can use for work related emails. I have lost count of the amount of times I have seen email addresses that can make a person cringe with embarrassment. Remember even your email address says something about you.

Provide the international dialling code (+27) so it is easy for UK employers to contact you. Send a photo with your CV. This will give UK employers an idea of how presentable you are. Choose a head and shoulder photo and leave the holiday snaps for your facebook profile. Your covering letter should highlight what type of position you are looking for or applying for. The letter gives you the opportunity to sell yourself and emphasise your experience and level of expertise. Make sure you address it to the relevant person and not just "Dear Sir/Madam or To Whom It May Concern".

Q. What types of treatments / products are in demand in UK salons/spas? In other words what experience would you advise a SA therapist to gain?

If you are looking to work in a salon or spa make sure you know how to do Brazilian and Hollywood waxing with hot wax. The days of just being able to offer a high bikini wax are long gone. The more holistic treatments you can offer the better. It will be to your advantage if you have done threading, microdermabrasion, spray tanning and any aesthetic or advanced skincare treatments.

Dermalogica is very popular in the UK so if you do have the opportunity to train with these products utilise it.

Q. What are realistic salary expectations and how do they compare to therapist salaries in SA?

As with South Africa the UK salaries of therapists are not very high. As recruitment specialists we are constantly campaigning for higher salaries but unfortunately our industry cannot compare with re-numeration packages in other industries. Salaries in London start from £14 000 per annum for a newly qualified therapist.

Q. Would you advise lining work up before they leave SA? Or is it better to take the plunge and actively seek work after they've arrived?

It is virtually impossible to line up work before leaving South Africa as London salon owners and managers want to trade test prospective staff. So you will have to take the plunge and come over before you have a job. This can be hard for parents as it does not give them that piece of mind. That is why we try and help therapists from the moment they arrive as we know it is a big step to take if you have not travelled before. If you do have the opportunity to work abroad I would suggest you grab it with both hands. The experience you gain cannot be described in words and I wish everyone this opportunity in life.

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