From the MASSAGE Magazine article, “Expand Your Massage Practice: How to Hire a New Team Member,” by Holli J. Phillips, in the June 2010 issue. Article summary: Americans are more stressed-out than ever—and to find relief, more and more people are turning to their local massage therapist. If you’re in a solo practice or the owner of a day spa, it might be time to add another member to your team.

Recently, I was confronted with the most difficult decision of my massage career: to leave a position that no longer suited the therapist I had evolved into. In 26 years, every employer gave me the opportunity to learn and grow in their respective businesses, and each seemed the perfect work setting for that particular point in my career.

Increasing opportunities exist for massage-school graduates within a variety of settings, but the new therapist must decide which environment is right for his or her interests. Likewise, employers must determine if a new therapist is suitable for their existing practices. Here are some ideas for those who hire.

First, look beyond the candidate’s resume as a list of qualifications. Instead, view the resume as a guide toward conducting an effective interview by getting to know the therapist’s interests and potential contributions.

Consider the candidate’s educational and employment background. Perhaps someone with a physical education or nursing degree is looking for a clinical setting, while others with hospitality or service-oriented experience may prefer a resort or day spa. Ask yourself if the background will suit your practice. Although you shouldn’t judge the individual solely by what you see on paper, the resume should allow you to better determine what kinds of questions to address in an interview with the therapist.

Be honest and reveal the expectations of your work environment. Address with the potential candidate whether you are seeking a self-starting independent contractor or an employee responsible for scheduled shifts, showing up on time and working with other therapists. Inquire if the therapist prefers to work alone or with a team. Also discuss the advantages and disadvantages of your informal or structured environment.

This brings us to working with a more experienced team. Discuss if the new therapist is open to being trained and mentored by you or another therapist. The integration process is often a difficult adjustment for staff, but it is a growth opportunity for existing and new therapists.

Remember, the new therapist also gains valuable information during the interview. Just as you are determining if the potential candidate is the right fit for your practice, she is also deciding if your business setting is appropriate for her. If you or the therapist declines employment, have business cards available of other employers seeking to hire suitable therapists for their practices. You may contribute to the therapist’s decision toward launching a fulfilling and successful career.

Lori Dobbert has been a licensed massage therapist for 26 years. She holds a bachelor’s degree in exercise physiology from the University of South Florida in Tampa and is a graduate of The Humanities Center (now Cortiva Institute) in Florida. She has practiced massage at resorts, day spas and neuromuscular therapy with physicians, physical therapists and has been on staff in an orthopedic surgeon’s office. She currently teaches at the Cortiva Institute (www.cortiva.com) in Boston, Massachusetts.

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