If you're looking to hire a a new instructor but you keep coming up empty handed, this article can help you assess your needs, plan your campaign, and find the perfect pole teacher for your studio.
Keep in mind when looking to hire, that there are a number of skill sets you'll probably want in your future staff member
For example, one instructor might be an excellent technician (she can execute the moves flawlessly) but may not be very good at communicating to students exactly how to accomplish what she's just demonstrated.
Students in her class may initially be impressed, but this may turn to frustration as the communication gap becomes more and more apparent.
Another potential pole dancing teacher may be super friendly and have great people skills one-on-one, but her group facilitation skills may leave a little to be desired.
This type of instructor often does great with private lessons. However, she may have a hard time leading a group class if she finds it hard to establish her role as a leader. She may also have difficulty being assertive when required.
My first suggestion then, is to make a list of the skill sets you'd like to see in your ideal pole dancing teacher. Keep in mind that your list may differ from another studio owner's list, depending on the staff you already have in place.
Going back to the above examples, our friendly instructor who loves to work one on one with students might be an ideal fit for a studio in need of someone to do private lessons or coaching.
The studio owner who requires a pole dancing teacher for advanced group classes may not find this to be such a good match however.
When thinking about what your studio requires in your next pole dance teacher, consider the importance (or not) of training, certification, fitness background, safety awareness, teaching experience, technical skill and ability, fit with your current staff, personality, facilitation skills, and ability to motivate others. You may think of other criteria to add to your list as well.
Keep in mind this will be your ideal, and you may not find someone with all the qualities you desire. However, once you have a list made up, you can rate each skill or quality based on importance, and then evaluate each potential candidate against this list.
If you already have a studio up and running, your most likely source for future pole dancing teachers will be among your own student base. If you've got an enthusiastic and outgoing student who's been coming to classes regularly, talks about your studio to all their friends, and is progressing well in class, s/he may just be the idea candidate.
Of course, you may have additional requirements, such as taking a fitness certification course, or apprenticing with you for a certain length of time, but training up a talented and enthusiastic student is certainly an ideal situation.
If you're opening up a new studio and you're looking for a teaching staff to assist you (wise move...burn out is all too common in the fitness industry among business owners who take on way too much!), you have a few options.
Keeping in mind the skill set profile you created earlier, you'll want to think about whether it's more important to you to find a great instructor who's willing to learn pole, or a great pole dancer who's willing to learn to teach.
You're likely to find that there are more qualified and experienced fitness instructors in your area willing to learn pole, than there are professional pole dancers (ie strippers and exotic dancers) who want to learn to teach, but how you target your advertising will depend on what's most important to your and your studio.
Placing online help wanted ads on Kijiji, Craigslist, or other local classified sites in your area (almost every city has one of these now), as well as on Facebook, LinkedIn, etc., can yield great results at little to no cost.
Just be sure to spell out exactly what you're looking for in order to increase your chances of finding good candidates. For example, if you're willing to train someone in pole, but you definitely want an experienced and qualified fitness instructor with great teaching skills, your ad might say something like this:
Wanted: Fitness instructor with current certification and minimum 3 years group fitness experience to teach pole fitness classes. Pole training provided, but must have excellent communication and facilitation skills, and take pride in creating a positive and empowering class dynamic.
On the other hand, if you're not a pole dancing teacher yourself but instead are focused on the "back end" of the business, ie administration, then be sure to specify that you need someone who's already got the full skill set, including whatever degree of pole proficiency is required by the position.
Just keep in mind that the more skills you require in your ideal instructor, the more challenging it's likely to be to find the perfect candidate. In this case, time is your ally, so start your search earlier rather than later. After all, you can't open a pole dancing studio if you don't have people who can teach!
Once you've assessed your needs and advertised the position,
hopefully you'll have a few applications and in hand and you'll need to
turn your attention to the hiring process.
Because the role of instructor involves both hard and soft skills, you may want to include a practical component to your hiring process. Definitely interview prospective pole dancing teachers, and perhaps even make your short list after this first round.
However, I strongly recommend that you
not hire without seeing your potential candidates in action. In the same
way that a candidate for a receptionist's position may be required to
take a keyboarding skills test (we used to call this a typing test in
the old days!), you may want to have your potential instructors teach a
class so you can assess their teaching and dancing skills, as well as
their teaching style. You can even ask your students to give feedback on
how they enjoyed the class.
A great way to ensure you have a good turnout for these "practicums" is to advertise them as free classes. Make sure the students know this is an audition for the potential instructor so they'll know why it's free.
This is also a
great way to promote your studio by piggybacking on your hiring
process. By offering a couple of free classes, you can reach out to
potential new students who may be curious but unsure about what's
involved in taking a pole dance class. Think of it as a free trial offer
that doesn't cost you anything!
After you've decided which candidate to hire for the position, it's also a good idea to write up a contract that spells out the terms and conditions of employment. You will want to make sure you comply with your local laws regarding employment of course, however most jurisdictions allow you to specify a probationary period and I recommend you do this if it's permitted.
A probationary period gives you an "out" in case things don't work out with your new hire. Let's say she misrepresented her skill level and you discover that she's not able to teach to the level you require. Or perhaps she's just not fitting in with your studio's culture. If your contact specified a 3 month probationary period, you would have the option to let the employee go without notice anytime in the first 3 months.
Not many business owners look forward to the hiring process, but if you prepare by doing an honest needs assessment, get creative about getting the word out, and take the time to interview and audition potential candidates, you'll stand a much better chance of hiring the right person for the job.
Hopefully, that means you won't have to repeat the process anytime soon. Unless your business keeps growing of course, in which case hiring more new staff would be a really good thing!