Choosing an Employment Path

Franchises are the number-one employers of massage therapists, followed by spas and then clinics. Some people kick-start their careers by working at a franchise, spa or clinic; others take part-time jobs to augment their private practices; and there are those therapists who prefer to only work for others.

Working as an employee provides many potential benefits, such as the possibility of walking into a full practice with little marketing; providing a larger scope of services for your clients’ well-being; starting out with a ready-made professional image; being part of a team with clear and established boundaries; reduced paperwork (there’s usually an office manager); the ability to focus on hands-on work; access to better and more varied equipment and supplies; excellent built-in referral base; staff does the scheduling, places confirmation calls and handles financial transactions.

Working in these settings also requires conforming to a set image, policies and procedures. You might need to alter your style and scope of practice to align with the company’s vision and schedule.

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Polish Your Resume

The purpose of a resume is to get you a job interview. Rarely is anyone hired solely on the basis of a resume. Indeed, most employers use resumes for the initial screening of job applicants.

A resume that inspires a potential employer to interview you is one that conveys your talents and clearly demonstrates your ability to produce results that align with the particular company’s goals. This is why it’s so important to research your potential employers.

Make certain you know to whom you are writing: learn about the company’s history, its mission, needs and problems; determine the ways in which your skills can contribute to the company’s success; and finally, ascertain the name and title of the person in charge of hiring, which isn’t always the personnel administrator.

Your cover letter is an integral part of your resume packet. This is where you build rapport. Keep your tone friendly and use terminology that’s appropriate to your field. Open your letter with something you find interesting about the company. Inform them how you can be of direct benefit to the company. Close your letter by requesting an interview.

In the massage field, your resume may be very different from the traditional ones, where the focus is demonstrating results, and that may be difficult for you to do. It’s important to think of your resume not in terms of a biography, but as a prospectus for your future.

The two major types of resumes are chronological and functional.

The chronological resume is used when you want to emphasize a good work history that is directly related to your desired job.

The functional resume is used when you want to emphasize your talents, abilities and potential—not your work history.

In most instances, massage therapists use more of a functional resume or sometimes even just a targeted personal letter.

A resume is a useful tool for promotion, even if you own your own business. If nothing else, the process of developing your resume clarifies your strengths and reinforces your self‑esteem.

Ace The Interview

Once you’ve secured an interview, you’ll want to be prepared to make the best possible impression on your prospective employer. A good rule of thumb: Consider what an employer values in an employee, and use the interview as an opportunity to demonstrate that you possess those qualities.

First and foremost, show up on time. A spa setting requires employees who are punctual and know how to stick to a tight schedule, so arriving late for an interview raises a giant red flag. Never schedule an interview when it’s sketchy as to whether you can make it, as a late cancellation on an interview may end your chances of ever getting one.

Next, you’ll want to keep in mind that the massage business depends heavily upon first impressions. There are not many professions where you meet someone and within two minutes, they’re undressed and alone in a closed-door room with you.

You must make the type of impression on your prospective employer that he or she would expect you to make on his or her clients: “relaxed, but professional, clean-cut and knowledgeable,” says Rubnitz.

When you meet, make eye contact, smile and be sure to offer a nice, firm, therapist-strength handshake. Avoid unusual hair color, visible tattoos and facial piercings—because no matter how unfair, there are still plenty of clients who find these trends disconcerting. Remember, their comfort is key.

Typically, both a verbal and a practical interview will take place. During the verbal interview, the employer will look to get a sense of who you are, why you chose the field of massage therapy and whether your personality is well-suited to the establishment.

You should be prepared to answer questions about how you define yourself as a massage therapist: what type of work you most enjoy and in what areas of practice you excel.

It’s always a good idea to have a list of insightful questions ready for the interviewer; those that show an interest in the spa's business philosophy will reflect especially well on you.

Rubnitz says questions regarding pay scale and benefits are best left for a second interview or upon receiving an offer.


Build Your Communication Skills

Skillful communication is the foundation of healthy relationships and thriving practices. In fact, one of the common threads of highly successful practitioners is effective communication skills. Advanced technical skills and business savvy are simply not enough. Without good communication skills, the growth of your business is likely to lag.

Communication skills are also known as people skills because, at its best, communicating involves connecting with people in positive and productive ways. As you enhance your skills in this area, you can expect to increase productivity, reduce stress and improve teamwork. You can also build stronger client relationships and minimize the potential for misunderstandings with colleagues, co-workers and clients. However, the greatest benefit manifests in clients who feel at ease and experience high levels of satisfaction with your work.

Skillful communication is a two-way process that involves an exchange of ideas, emotions and attitudes. The ultimate goal of communication is to elicit some type of action. The communication skills necessary in effective therapeutic relationships are the ability to establish rapport, listen to answers, effectively utilize communication technology, be patient, make astute observations, elicit information, ask open-ended questions, gain cooperation, conduct excellent interviews, ask for input, assert boundaries, use active listening techniques and show genuine concern.

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