The Savvy Spa Boss

If you’ve done it before, you’ll know that hiring the right aesthetician for your spa or salon isn’t as easy as it seems!

With so many spas, pop-ups and retailers upping the competition by offering a vast array of beauty services, gone are the days when talented people would line up to work for you with few alternatives in sight.

When I first opened… I literally thought I would have to beat (you know what I mean) potential candidates away with a stick… nope!

What you might not realize is that potential candidates are really giving you the third-degree search. Not only are they checking in with your current and past employees, but they’re also checking your reviews, and may even make a call to your board of aesthetics to see if you’ve had claims made against you.

It’s a complete two-way street now, and I guess as it should be, right?

This recent shift in dynamic demands a fresh and unique approach to hire the best talent around!

And these days, it’s now as much up to you — yes YOU — to position yourself as the best spa employer in town to lure dependable, talented and driven aestheticians onto your roster of employees.

I’ll guide you through some of the nitty-gritty technical details that you need to put in place, but first, it’s important to focus on establishing a few guiding principles that are sure to attract the best aestheticians (and clients!) to your spa.

Establish your spa values and guiding principles

Have you ever stopped to think about your spa’s core values and principles? And do you communicate these across your marketing, customer service, and treatment of your staff?

If you’ve never stopped to think about them, there’s no better time than the present!

Not only will core values help you find better talent, they’ll also help you avoid mistakes in operating your business, especially when dealing with those all-too-frequent high-pressure situations. And boy, are they ever frequent!

But you’re probably wondering, ‘where do I even start’?

Your set of values and principles shape the atmosphere and culture that so many of us crave in our workplaces, let alone a relaxing spa or salon environment, so it’s best to start by thinking of the first impression you’d love to make.  

How to set core values for your spa or salon?

Here’s my basic 3-step plan to set you on the right path:

1. Brainstorm about what’s important to you and your team. Enlist the help of managers or involve the entire team if you want! Some important guiding questions may include:

  • What’s important to your team?
  • What brought your team together and continues to keep you thriving?
  • What will help guide your team when you’re facing tough decisions?
  • What are the things you love about your team?
  • What parts of your salon/spa that you’re proud of?

2. After pinning down a broad set of values, test their resilience with a few more questions. If need be, re-frame them according to your team’s culture. Be aspirational, but also realistic!

  • Are these values something we’ll still believe in 5-10 years?
  • Are we willing to hire aestheticians or management according to these principles?
  • Is this something we’re willing to fire on?
  • Is this something we can apply to our customer service?

3. Evaluate your values as a complete set and distribute them to the team. The process should leave you with no more than 5-7 guiding principles.

After getting those values in check, it’s time to live them on a day-to-day basis. I could go on and on about this, so let’s just stick to the hiring process, shall we?

Now with your values locked and loaded, don’t hesitate to place them at the forefront of the hiring process. Be sure to communicate these clearly to potential candidates and ask for their genuine feedback.

As a spa owner, embedding your values and philosophy into every action automatically communicates them to new hires from the get-go. Take the time to set this up ahead of time, and believe me, you’ll be thanking me later!

Establish a thorough hiring process


There’s no doubt that introducing a new individual to your team is a stressful and risky endeavour, but when you have a thorough vetting system in place that involves specific and relevant questions, interviews with various leaders on the team, and high-quality training, it nearly guarantees the ability to weed out aestheticians who just don’t belong!

It also conveys the respect you’ve got for your business and shows new recruits the standard of quality and thoroughness that you expect from them on a daily basis.

But don’t forget to make it fun and inviting too!

First impressions matter most, and with spas and salons battling to retain top talent, early interactions with new staff members not only impact their performance but affect their loyalty, dedication and drive to grow their client-base.

When dealing with millennials, in particular, a job search goes beyond having a 9-5, keeping your head down and making steady money. We live amongst a new generation of dreamers, and if you’re looking to hire them for the long haul, it’s YOUR duty to make them feel excited, rewarded, and satisfied to keep them on the right path.

Begin the hiring process in advance

It must be said—the ideal time to hire a staff member is before, not during, a busy season!  

There’s no doubt that this is where long-term planning comes in handy, but beginning your search well before a busy season ensures that you not only have sufficient time to gather a select group of quality aestheticians to choose from but also have time to vet, onboard and train staff thoroughly.

At the end of the day, if you’re expecting your own staff to think ahead and be organized, you should be able to demonstrate this yourself!

Ask the right questions

Simple, but oh-so-crucial!

When people often ask me how to hire an aesthetician, the first thing I tell them is to ask the right questions.

Sure, you’ll be wondering about their technical qualifications and impressive portfolios, but always ask questions that bring out the aesthetician’s professional goals and passions.

Some of my favourite spa/salon interview questions include:

  • What do you value most in your life?
  • How can I meet your needs as an employer?
  • What are your thoughts on teamwork?
  • How do you see your career evolving over the next five years?
  • How will working at my spa/salon help you achieve those goals?
  • What do you love most about the business, and how do you intend to give back?
  • How do you want your clients to feel after your service?
  • What keeps you motivated on a daily basis?

Be creative

When it comes to hiring creative individuals, it’s all about taking an innovative approach! Think beyond the typical call out to social media, and get out there and find them through digital ads, client recommendations, connecting with your vendors, speaking at school engagements, pouring over job sites, online listings or Yelp!

Another modern method includes reaching out to local Instagram beauty superstars. A quick glance through their accounts, helps you get a feel for their drive, technical ability, demeanour, lifestyle and dedication to their work!

Now that you’ve streamlined your hiring process, hone in on every candidate by figuring out exactly what you’re looking for first and keeping the following items and qualifications top of mind during the interview.  Teresa Clements says it best: “if you don’t know what you’re looking for, you’re never going to find it” — and I couldn’t agree more!

7 items to determine before interviewing aestheticians for your spa/salon

Before sitting down with a batch of candidates, it’s best that you determine:

  1. the skill set, qualifications and years of experience that the potential aesthetician requires to succeed.
  2. the breadth and quality of services he/she must be able to perform.
  3. the desired guest experience they will deliver.
  4. the psychological profile that pleases your clients most — and keeps them coming back for more!
  5. the number of hours and time slots you want them to fill.
  6. the ideal size of an existing client base.
  7. how much you’re willing to pay to hire the very best.

When it comes down to hiring the best aesthetician for your spa or salon, sure, having the right credentials is important, but passion, purpose and drive not only help connect with and retain your clients for longer, it helps you hold onto staff for the long run too!

And don’t rule out hiring someone fresh out of school, either! While it may require more training, you’re better able to lead, guide and mould them into someone who flourishes on your team. Less undoing of bad habits is required on your end, and resistance to change will be at its lowest.

Like I said before, the hiring process isn’t an easy one to master, but by implementing the steps in this article, you’ll be holding onto your awesome staff for the long-run — which means less hiring, firing and questionable additions to the team.

Trust me on this one, if you place your values at the forefront of your spa hiring process, you’ll easily be able to find staff who are an excellent fit for the team and champion your spa’s philosophy, not only at work, but during their downtime as well—becoming full-time ambassadors for your brand. What spa owner wouldn’t want that!

Purpose, life balance, security, and profitability—hopefully you can provide all of these things, and if you’re looking for a rockstar of an aesthetician you need to peak their interest by proving you can and showing them that you’re the key to the career of their dreams in this big, bad and crazy world we call the beauty biz.

If you’re a spa owner looking for one easy solution to shake up your dream team, there’s no better way to start than by joining my one-of-a-kind staffing solution,

Say yes to increased profitability and decreased staffing costs by registering for our dream staffing platform aimed at stressed spa owners who are finally ready to take ownership over their staffing headaches.

About the Author: Susan O'Sullivan

Susan is a spa owner and a self proclaimed serial entrepreneur. She chases dreams full time and aims to empower the people around her to do the same. She has been through all of the highs and lows that this crazy spa industry has to offer and it is her mission to smooth the path for other spa owners and pro’s on a similar  journey.

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