The Right Therapist for your Spa

Colleges themselves are competing to offer beauty qualifications which include new up-and-coming treatments and even the examining bodies are offering level 4 advanced therapy as well as Spa Management degrees at universities. 

This rapid growth and development means businesses need to attract more employees and retain them. Even with the recent recession, spas have reported an increase in business as more and more clients opt for a spa break ‘staycation’ rather than travelling abroad. This means recruitment and training are full time jobs at the spas’ HR departments.


Creating an eye-catching advert will ensure your position will get noticed. Postings are best placed on online beauty job boards, inside trade editorials and also at high achieving colleges. Adverts should include the position with a description of general duties and include both essential and desirable criteria. Here is an example:

Essential criteria

  • Beauty therapy qualification minimum NVQ 3 or equivalent
  • Two years or more experience
  • Proven track record in retail sales
  • Can do attitude and willing to work some weekends and evenings

Desirable criteria

  • Training in Clarins and Guinot is preferred
  • Holistic qualification in either reflexology or Hopi ear candling
  • Gel nails trained

Most adverts state the products used within the business and the salary as well as highlighting the perks of the job or location. 

Sometimes word of mouth is also a good advert as staff will have therapy friends or ex- colleagues they may recommend.

Once the cut off date has passed you will want to sift through the applicants till you get the top candidates and arrange to interview and trade test.

As a registered employer with an online job boards you will also be sent CVs from registered Therapists and therefore can ‘head hunt’ suitable employees.


Employers with a high volume of candidates may struggle to narrow down the list. They will use the essential criteria and then the desirable criteria. Other things to look for on a CV are as follows:

  • Longevity
  • A progressive career
  • Initiative to develop career with additional training
  • Previous employment within five star spa/salon with excellent reputation
  • A range of skills used /good all rounder
  • Good general education
  • Previously experienced spas at sea or abroad
  • Experience
  • Professional CV and good cover letter

Interview and trade testing

Interviews and trade tests are nerve wracking for most employees and so this should be taken into consideration when carrying out the interview. Offering refreshments will help to put therapists at ease.  Questions can be asked from what you already know, by getting the therapists to expand and give more detail from their CV and cover letter. Other questions could be…what skills, talents and abilities can you bring to the spa? What do you wish to achieve in your career? Why did you leave your previous posts? What do you love about your job? What do you dislike?

Discussing their previous roles will give you a clearer understanding of their skills and abilities, did they cover management during holidays, and have they previously been responsible for stock, inventory and ordering? Have they been a key holder etc…? This will show the level of responsibility already achieved.

If a therapist has a long gap in their CV it is good to check out. It could be they used that time for travelling to enhance their life experience or were responsible for a dependant. I may even include time spent out of work, however if used wisely it may demonstrate a proactive character and a determined mind.

Larger spa companies may offer a tour of the facilities, as well as discussing hours, pay, weekend work, rotas, holidays and so on… 

Trade tests usually include back massage; express facial or waxing, nail paint with one being colour and one french to check out Therapists’ skills, techniques and procedures. Trade testing personnel will want to check Therapist’s client care too, checking the pressure, client comfort and giving feedback to the client for homecare.

Look through their portfolio, check and photo copy qualifications and see what else they can bring to the table. Therapists may have achieved a beauty award or have been a runner up, which is an amazing achievement! They may have been employee of the month at a previous post, or kept copies of client feedback forms from previous roles.

Secret Shopper

Having someone in your team be a secret shopper is another idea to gauge a Therapist’s abilities whilst they are in their current role. You can get a realistic idea of how they work when busy, how they work when they aren’t being interviewed and how they retail products and recommend.


References can be gained from previous employers however aren’t usually requested until offer of position has been accepted. Normally employers ask for two references and this information will include when the therapist began and ended their employment, their attendance record, their abilities and client satisfaction and reliable character. Reliability is a big one when seeking new staff along with work ethics and attitude so having previous employer praise the staff member in these areas will be a positive attribute.

Once an offer of employment is made there is a probationary period of 3 – 6 months to check suitability for both the employee and the employer. This gives both parties leeway as a form of testing the waters. Sometimes this period can be extended if employers feel Therapists need a longer settling in period.

Keeping good staff 

When you know you have good staff you want to keep them, so once you have attracted them how can you make sure they stay?

Here are some suggestions:

  • Good remuneration that reflects their level of experience and qualifications
  • Retail incentives, tiered targets that are challenging yet achievable
  • Incentives for high achievers
  • Bi-annual / yearly appraisals
  • Regular meeting informing staff of plans for development, awards achieved and client feedback/ positive comments
  • A developed career plan for each therapist
  • Excellent training in product houses as well as customer care seminars
  • Confidential comment boxes for suggestions
  • Annual Christmas parties/ summer parties / social events
  • Opportunity to progress

Back to listing