January 2013

Lisa Kind - Editor

Esthetic Endeavors | by Judith Culp


Achieve Your Goals and Become the Ultimate Professional

Most of us that enter this industry do it because of passion and pride.

We want to help others and we want to be the best we can be in our profession. But what enables us to achieve the goals we envisioned when we entered this industry?

Here are four key components to help achieve goals and become the ultimate professional.

It doesn't really matter which part of the beauty industry you are in or what type of setting you choose to work in, master these components and other professionals, as well as your clients will respect you.

The first component is learning the skill sets necessary to do the job. We start with career school training and then develop and enhance those skills through more and continuing education.

It is rather surprising to me that continuing education hours are not required for our industry in most states. I think it would be a surprise to the consumers too. It is probably part of their expectations that we are taking classes and learning new skills and techniques.

Even if it is not required by law, it is a responsibility we have for our clients to be the professional they expect us to be. Continuing learning is synonymous with being a professional. Those who do not continue their education, actually pull down the public's view of our industry.

Here is another consideration. If you want to be viewed as an industry professional, do you know all the skill sets? While we certainly all specialize in our favorite areas of the trade, if we don't have at least a good working knowledge of all of the job tasks, we are missing some important links that could help us better assist or educate our clients.

For a massage therapist or nurse to become nationally certified they must know a specific group of skills. The same is true for estheticians. If you want to see how you are doing, check out the website www.ncea.tv. Under the Political Advocacy tab click on the first button, Standards and then scroll down and read about the 600 Job Task Analysis and the 1200 Job Task Analysis. These are great guides for seeing where you need to expand.

The second component is people skills. You can know all the skill sets but if your people skills are weak, success may be elusive. Most schools try to instill this in students but it is up to the student to embrace it and hone their skills.

A business administrator recently told me that during interviews he told interviewees, "I can teach you job skills; I cannot teach you professionalism."

Client management, coaching, consulting, and professionally offering both home care and treatment series packages are all necessary for the ultimate professional. For many new to the industry, the confidence to recommend home care to clients is lacking.

Much of what we do is education and we must come across as knowledgeable and professional to have this information embraced by the client. This means really learning about the products we use as well as the science of how the skin works and responds. We don't want to be lumped in with retailers selling "hope in a jar" and the best way to avoid this is education.

People skills are also about our personal presentation. To be recognized as an industry professional we must walk the walk and talk the talk. We must use the products we recommend so that we can be living testimony for their success.

Anyone in the service industries is in the spotlight. The day you leave home looking your scruffiest you will run into that potential client you have been trying to get into your clinic for months. To protect your professional image, make sure you feel comfortable meeting that potential client with the way you look and are dressed before you leave the house. It's part of the job.

The third key is business skills. Business skills include an understanding and ability to market ourselves. We are the product, we are our own brand and marketing is everything that leads to an exchange between people with a positive improvement financially.

The basic licensure programs prepare the person for an entry level position as an employee. They were never intended to prepare a person to go into business for themselves as an independent contractor or business owner. Unfortunately, in the field of esthetics there are not a lot of "chain businesses" and these jobs don't exist.

This lack of entry level jobs forces a lot of estheticians to go into independent contractor status and it is difficult at best. They need both more esthetic skill sets and business training. The local community college can help a lot with the business training. We need to learn about accounting practices, state business laws, taxes and the IRS, workers compensation, marketing and business operations. This is not an option if you want to succeed. It is essential.

Some very practical aspects of business skills will be developing your menu of services, pricing for profitability, marketing without going broke, dealing with web pages and social marketing. It used to be all you needed to do was have a presence in your local telephone yellow pages. Today it is much more complex and changing rapidly. If this isn't your strong area it is time to network and get help.

The fourth key is ethics. The ultimate professional practices the highest standard of ethics in all aspects of their business practices. What does this include? The NCEA Code of Ethics includes three components Client Relationships, Scope of Practice and Professionalism. To View the NCEA Code of Ethics visit www.ncea.tv

All of these components and one more combine to make the ultimate professional. How can we be viewed as a true professional if we promote ourselves to be other than what our license reads?

Did you know that in some states it is a misdemeanor to refer or market yourself with a term that is not on your state license? There is no state that licenses a medical esthetician. There are no oncology estheticians. We are all estheticians. We just select different environments to practice in and different areas to specialize in. The use of other terms is actually false advertising to the consumer.

Now all we have to do to be recognized as a truly professional group by others is to agree upon and all use the same spelling of our name. We as estheticians need to agree and move forward to gain the national and international respect we desire.

Judith Culp has been in the esthetics industry since 1980. She is the owner of NW Institute of Esthetics, Inc. and contributing editor for Miladys Standard Esthetics: Advanced and lead author of Esthetician's Guide to Client Safety & Wellness. For more information visit www.estheticsnw.com.