Unveiling the Power of Soft Skills for Your Students’ Future Careers

Megan Comunale

Director of School Development, Canvas Me

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Megan Communale:
Okay, awesome. Thank you. Hello, everyone. I cannot tell you how honored I am to be here. I was an attendee for so many years of this summit and to now present, it’s just truly an honor. So today we are really going to dive into a topic that I feel is kind of overlooked, but it’s super vital for our students’ success, and that is soft skills. So we know that the technical skills of our education are kind of at the forefront of all of our schools and our educators’ minds, but our students and their future employers, they really do want more from us. So we’re going to dive into how we, how I can help support you in bringing that more into your schools.

How Soft Skills Affect Job Performance

So why should your classrooms include soft skills? And these stats really stuck out to me. They came from the Career Education Review from this year.

97% of employers agree that soft skills impact job performance. Soft skills like communication, like confidence. So 97% of these employers think that those impact job performance, and we know this to be true in the beauty industry.

But only 31% of employers report that candidates that they are actively interviewing have satisfactory soft skills. What a difference there. And then this last one, this, if I could put an exclamation point on this, I would. Over 50% of Gen Z students state that they want more soft skills training. So how are we implementing that into our schools?

So today we’re going to chat a little bit about four soft skills for the beauty industry classroom. We’re going to explore how mastering these skills like

  • Effective Communication
  • Creativity
  • Mentorship
  • Confidence

can really propel your students’ careers in the industry to new heights. And we’re going to discuss ideas for how to make this topic fun and engaging in the classroom. So I want to have this group discussion together. I’d love to see your ideas of how you’re incorporating soft skills into your classrooms so that we can share and really celebrate and kind of elevate the conversations that you’re having in class. We need to teach these vital, transformative subjects of soft skills to engage, challenge, and another exclamation point, retain our students. So let’s really be the difference makers in the industry.

Effective Communication

So let’s start out with effective communication. So our students, they’ve grown up interacting in a really fast-paced digital environment. We need to be able to give them the space to practice their communication in class. So both digitally for their comfort and then more physically, so in front of people to push them out of their comfort zone. The ability for them to communicate clearly and empathetically with their clients and their team will ultimately help them to build trust and loyalty so they’re going to get repeat business and referrals and they’re going to have stronger relationships with their team.

So let’s start with some of these ideas. So step-by-step presentations on both technical and personal skill sets. So for the technical, having them take maybe their favorite haircut or color formulation, or maybe it’s something as simple as an updo that they want to take step-by-step and lead in front of your classroom. They’re going to have the ability to communicate these steps and ultimately have their class follow along and be able to see if they can duplicate it. So really honing in on that ability to take something that they’re comfortable with, that they feel like they’re an expert with, and then being able to communicate it to their peers. Along the personal skill set, if they’re able to share some of their story, share some of their story with their peers.

And with Canvas ME, we have an about me section where we actually help them build their story. We really want them to humanize who they are as people and be able to share that with their peers, and then that will translate to sharing that with their prospective employers because we all want to hear how they got to where they are and what they’re going to bring to a team. That all comes from their story. Partner work to share different ideas. So I love seeing students coupled up with people that they don’t normally get to sit by or talk to. I love for them to be able to share their aha moments or things that they discovered while they’re working together. So partner work is a really great way to improve that effective communication. Video creation. Video we know is how people want to learn about basically everything, right?

They love to watch video to get the facts. And employers want to hear directly from your students, whether it’s them speaking directly to them or creating a video to send. And so the video is a huge part of what you can incorporate into your classroom by allowing them to share their story that way. We also have a purpose discovery exercise with Canvas ME as part of our curriculum. And this is going to be really important for effective communication. And this is something that your students can just ask themselves, what is my why? But this will help them really discover their story and how to answer questions like tell me about yourself in a really meaningful way. Part of effective communication is to know your why, why you’re in the industry, why you’re doing what you’re doing, and what and who you are aligned with or not.

This exercise also gives your student access to wellness content. So this is something that we know that Gen Z is really craving and you’re providing that for them in the school. So however you want to have this sort of exercise, this is just an example, but to be able to support that in knowing their why in the classroom. So before I move on to creativity, I just want to look into the chat a little bit. Oh, I love these already. Okay. So there’s quizzes that you’re doing, assignments where you have a videographer. I love this. Yes. Okay. So it looks like a lot of you are utilizing communication and those types of classes. I’d love to see it. Keep those ideas coming and sharing.


So for creativity, we know our students are creative in the art of hair, makeup, nails, but are they creative thinkers? And this is something that I still need to work on to this day, like creative thinking, coming up with those solutions that might be out of the box a little bit. So can your students really take an idea and make it their own? When your students are inspired and really given the freedom to create in their own space, they’re really genuinely happier and more engaged in the results that come about.

We also know that creativity is like the secret sauce of the beauty industry. It’s what sets their work apart and really keeps their guests coming back for more.

So how do we foster that creativity? How do we make sure that they’re continuing to use that in the classroom? So industry trends with a twist. So really allowing them to take some trends and give it their own spin, experiment, customize, and design. Embrace their unique vision and let their creativity shine.

This is one of my favorite salon spa scenarios that require the creative thinking, giving them a challenge to overcome. Maybe it’s with a guest or a team member, but allowing them to have that creative freedom to come up with a solution for themselves. Before and after content of student work. So getting them in the habit of taking those before and after pictures and showing that creative process, showing the transformation. And then artistic focus classes on photos, videos, storytelling.

Again, you have shared those with us in the chat, but these are going to be really important to revisit and constantly do in your classrooms. Canvas ME has a whole curriculum that supports the creative thinking for your students and really breaks it down step-by-step for how to take those great photos, great videos, dynamic ones, and how to share their story as a human.


This is another soft skill that mentorship supports soft skills and then it’s also one in and of itself. And how do your students become those mentors? So the beauty industry, we know, was built on really incredible stories and people. And so we want to inspire our students by sharing the beginnings of the industry and encouraging them to learn from beauty brands, professionals, and mentors. And I wanted to share this stat with you because, again, this session is about engagement. And if we’re engaging our students, we’re retaining them. They’re coming to class because they don’t want to miss what you’re talking about.

Students are 52% less likely to miss a day of school if they have a mentor. And what’s even cooler is that 90% of those students that have mentors want to become a mentor to someone during their career. So we are lifting these students up, we’re empowering them to be mentors in the future, in this industry to give back to beauty school students.

So how cool is that to be able to say that you started that in your classroom? So how do we do that? How do we get them to see the importance of mentorship? Well, we want to bring those mentorship stories into the school. A mentor can really provide invaluable guidance, help your students navigate challenges, and open doors to really new opportunities. So don’t keep that outside of the school. Let’s bring it in. And one of the ways that we bring in mentorship into the school is through our guest artists. And it can be a lot at times. Sometimes they’re coming in on a weekly basis. And so that’s why the second point is something of an aha for all of us, right? We’ve discovered that students today are experiencing what’s called guest artist fatigue or a little bit of being overwhelmed with that same type of information that they’re providing week in and week out.

We know that Gen Z, they are digital natives. And what I mean by this is that they want to do their homework digitally before they’re meeting these salons in person or physically. So we want to be able to offer tools, and here’s how we can support those guest artists and support them still coming into mentor. By giving resources and tools for our students to do that homework prior to them coming in. So we’re allowing them to do that research online. We’re allowing to have phones in the classroom from time to time that are focused on the salon, the spa research, and really making them comfortable for when these artists do come into the school. They’re going to be much more interested, much more invested when they have that background knowledge that they’ve been able to do on their own for that guest artist.

Finally, mentorship opportunities, and this is really big. We have students that want to connect with these artists and they just never think that it is possible. Especially when they’re first starting school, they have these big dreams of being educators for brands and taking their career to a whole new level, and so we want to be able to connect them with those people. And on Canvas ME, we do offer mentorships as opportunities. So Sam Villa, Tippi Shorter, Sonya Dove from all of these brands that we can connect your students with. So let’s give them these tools and these resources to say yes to these mentors.


Finally, we have confidence. And confidence is really the ultimate accessory when it comes to the beauty industry. And to build confidence, we have to involve our students. So students will support what they helped create and what they helped to create really builds their confidence in their thoughts and their ideas that they want to share. So how do we build that in the classroom? Well, one thing is we want to practice skills that may be challenging to one student or another. We want to give them the opportunity to go over and over and build that confidence in that skill. Something simple as that is just giving them that time and maybe that one-on-one attention for you to help guide them with that skill. Recognition from their peers and school leadership team. And so this goes back to what they were talking about on the panel. Everyone wants to be recognized. Everyone wants to hear about what’s working and be inspired.

So let’s recognize our students, let’s celebrate them. Whether it’s sharing pictures of their work, sending emails about their portfolios or resumes, sharing everything on their school board and your celebration board, but having that recognition. Building their story with positivity. So allowing them to share what makes them who they are as a human and being truthful and honest about it.

Confidence is not about being perfect. It’s really about owning who you are and what you’ll bring to the table. Career path clarity is a really big one that I want to focus on and challenge you to give your students all of the options in the beauty industry and to show them how to get there. When I think about beauty, I think about an umbrella. And then all of these different raindrops share all of the different career paths.

And so your students are thinking, okay, how do I get to do what I want to do? Giving them that career path clarity along with the steps to get there. And then finally, creating a list of achievements and celebrations, certifications to review that quarterly. I think that’s something you can do in your professional development classes. But you’re giving your students a chance to write down, hey, what did I say yes to? What did I go above and beyond my traditional education and get certified in? And how can I add that to my portfolio or to my resume? And in our Canvas ME portfolios, we have a whole section that’s built upon these celebrations and certifications so your students can really stand out and even be searched by businesses that are looking for these certifications. So it’s a really cool aspect, and again, I challenge you to have your students review this quarterly.

Utilizing Soft Skills in Your Education System

So if you are utilizing the soft skills in your classroom, you are going to give your students such an awesome experience. It’s going to be just as important as their technical experience that they’re having with you. So with more soft skills education, they’re going to be more collaborative, more engaged, and more focused on relationship building, which will ultimately impact and build their relationships in their salon teams and within your students. So if you would ever like to connect or schedule a call with our Canvas ME team, we would love to connect with you and chat a little bit more about ways to empower your schools and your students. But it was a pleasure to be here with all of you. And I thank you so much for the time today.

Chris Linford:
Megan, thank you so much. Yeah. Hopefully you scan that QR code, maybe put your email in the chat, and if anybody wants to get ahold of you that way, they can do that. We have schools that love to work with Canvas ME, a lot of good people. This isn’t your first time being at the summit. I know that you guys were sponsors and speakers in the past, so thank you so much for your time, Megan.

Megan Communale:

Chris Linford:
Yeah, well done. And one thought that I had when you were talking about those soft skills, I remembered I’m on an advisory board for a beauty school and other members of this advisory board are salon managers and owners and wax studio owners. And I remember one, she was just so bold. She just said, “I don’t care about their hard skills. When I’m interviewing, I’m only looking for their personality, soft skills.”

Megan Communale:
Exactly. And that’s what we’re hearing all the time. So it was really great to be able to present on that and just reinforce how important it is for our schools. So thank you all so much for your kind words in the chat, and I can’t wait to see the next session.

Chris Linford:
Okay. Thanks, Megan.

Megan Communale:


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