Improve Your Employability as a Holistic Therapist
It may sound like going over old ground but you would be amazed as an employer & trainer how often I have to “remind” therapists of the fact that the initial meeting you have with your potential employer or client is your window to impress. I still see therapists with hair falling in their face, a creased uniform, chipped nails/ varnish or ridiculously long extensions (including lashes!) or over the top make up! As a Holistic Therapist we are projecting a serene professionalism that allows our potential employers to feel comfortable immediately.
Even after 20 years I still always greet a new client/ employer with a hand shake & my name. It never fails to impress & every preconceived idea your client or employer may have is usually gratefully quashed with that single action.
It may be well worth investing in further education & a governing body membership such as the Federation of Holistic Therapists or the Guild of Holistic Therapists to show employers just how seriously you take your work & seeing a list of further education qualifications such as Hot Stone Massage, Hopi Ear Candling or Pregnancy Massage will put you well ahead in the employment stakes. Never rest on your laurels, there is always a new therapy treatment taking centre stage in this industry, plus it will all look good on your CV as well as good practice for your governing body. Membership is also a great way of connecting to like minded industry individuals & can be really helpful if you have any industry queries.
Do your homework:
Please do take 10 minutes the night before your interview to research the venue you are going to, it is expected that you may know a little about the place you are going to, so check out the spa/ salons price list online & see what they are charging, products they use, their ethos i.e are they specialists in massage, facials or beauty? These days most spas have websites that give you a real insight into the “feel” of the place. For example a city day spa will certainly be aiming to create a tranquil space to escape city pressures & a rural spa will be marketing their spa on the importance of the peacefulness at their country retreat!
Do make the effort to research your route & arrive early. There is nothing worse than feeling flustered because you got stuck on the tube or couldn’t find the manor house spa car park! Your employer will expect to see you floating in giving off an air of peace & calm as you are a holistic therapist showing your calm, can do attitude! This leads me nicely on to...
Although you may have a lovely idea of working in a peaceful spa and indeed this is often the view that is on show to the clientele, things can often happen that challenge this ideal. It is vital that whether you are working as a temp or a full time employee that you are able to cope with whatever comes through the door! That could be a late client, a demanding client, staff sickness, a booking mistake & so on! You have to be up to the challenge of thinking on your feet & not panicking in front of the client, if they get a whiff of unprofessionalism then they may well not return for that hen weekend with 10 of their friends later in the year- you get my drift!
It is initially quite hard to keep your column to time as you may have to change treatment rooms or you have a client asking for more treatments etc. But if you can “cope” your employer will definitely call you back for more temp work or consider you for that upcoming full time vacancy.
It is important to realise the expectations of an employer so submitting your CV for work experience is a great idea to shine the light on your talent but also give you an idea of the inner workings of a professional workplace as a lot of spas may also expect you to cover reception, do stock control, housekeeping & provide refreshment for poolside/ relaxation room clients - you really have to be one step ahead at all times so that your employer doesn’t need to prompt you!
A big part of holistic work that you may not have considered as that important is retail, this is expected these days & spas have targets they require you to achieve i.e. selling an Aromatherapy oil or lotion that you may have just used in your treatment, such product sales are an excellent add on to the spas turnover. There are many courses about these days should you feel the need to brush up on your selling skills. I know in my experience a lot of therapists cringe at selling but I always see retail as educating my clients & because I am so passionate about well being then retailing that oil that will aid my clients dry eczema beautifully is my contribution to their return to balance!
Are you able to work weekends & evenings?
You certainly will be expected to and often for no extra pay, we are in the leisure sector & most leisure happens at weekends & after work so do be expected to do this - without grumbling! So for the weekend that you are working make sure you get that early night & arrive bright eyed & bushy tailed for your day ahead rather than with a pounding head & last night’s spicy meal/ wine coming from your pores!
Although you love your role as a Holistic therapist, would you consider training in other modalities that bring the spa great revenue i.e. waxing or manicure/pedicure? - If not you could lose out to a therapist who is holistic & can do the odd cover for beauty work! Often your employer will pay for you to undertake further training so take advantage, it all looks good on your CV.
At the end of the day a therapist that is willing to work over a rota system, happy to retail, open to challenges/training, calm, professional & happy to turn their hand to anything including the less glamorous side of spa & aware of the pros/cons of the industry will win out over someone who WON’T work weekends or evenings, is really uncomfortable retailing & panics when given a new role. We all have to start somewhere but showing your employer that you are there for the long haul, reliable & being able to problem solve even if you are nervous will really put you leagues ahead so try to show initiative & confidence in all aspects of your work & before long you will be feeling as confident in selling & dealing with an awkward customer as you do in your perfect treatments...making you indispensable to your potential employer!
Working in the UK from abroad?
Any decent employer will expect you to be eligible to work in the UK so it is an idea to be a member of a professional body that is international such as ITEC & if you’re not too sure if your qualifications extend to this country then you may wish to look at www.naric.org.uk to compare the qualifications you have. ITEC qualifications should be recognisable in most countries.
If you are self employed then make sure you have adequate Public Liability insurance & necessary licensing from your local authority, if these are in place it could mean you have an advantage over other possible employees.
Because of the nature of our work ie working on a one-to-one scenario it is really important to be able to put people at ease, so during your interview is your time to shine! Make sure you communicate professionally i.e. don’t be over personal if you think you are doing well in your interview, remember your professional boundaries! This will give your employer the chance to see whether you can communicate effectively at all levels. If you struggle with confidence again look into confidence building courses as you will need to take control in your treatments to get the best out of & for your client, remember you are the qualified one & making your clients feel comfortable will almost certainly guarantee a repeat booking. This leads me nicely on to...
The importance of repeat bookings:
As a therapist you are constantly expected to aim high with your treatments, communication, problem solving, retail & most certainly professionalism as most of your work will come from word of mouth so if you can put your clients at ease they will most certainly trust your judgement in purchasing products or courses of treatments through to bringing their friends next time & this is a massive part of your work so stand out from average & put in a bit more effort to be a shining star of your spa!
Wishing you every success on securing that dream position!