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Game of Thrones with Lipstick

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The beauty talent market is getting more competitive as M&A heats up and new indie brands spring up.

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These days, even indie beauty brands are compelling their talent to sign non-compete agreements in order to protect against poaching by top brands, said Kathy Rafalin (pictured, at right), vice president, talent and talent development, Shiseido Americas Corp. Add to that counteroffers from job candidates’ current jobs, as well as the scramble for top talent that follows M&A activity and the proliferation of small- and medium-sized brands. All of this adds up to a competitive job market that Lisa Marie Ringus (pictured, at left), executive vice president global sales and business development, 24 Seven Inc., described as “Game of Thrones with lipstick.”

Further reading: Q&A: Employees Have an Edge in the Beauty Jobs Market

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39% of respondents stated that they need a promotion or other type of advancement every year or every other year in order to feel they are on a successful career path

Rafalin and Ringus spoke as part of CEW’s Career Development Series in New York, which featured the results of 24 Seven’s latest beauty industry survey of 3,000 industry professionals. Ringus noted that employee engagement came in at a three-year low and offered advice for both management and staff to turn that trend around. 

Beauty Professionals by the Numbers

  • 82% of survey respondents said salary was the most important factor for feeling fulfilled in one’s job
  • 84% who asked for a raise received it
  • 8% was the average raise, but rose to 10–20% with a job switch
  • 78% of survey respondents said culture of immediate team is critical
  • 76% highly value benefits such as pension plans, tuition reimbursement, etc.
  • 74% highly value career growth and advancement opportunities
  • 39% of respondents stated that they need a promotion or other type of advancement every year or every other year in order to feel they are on a successful career path
  • 69% said employer reputation was of high importance
  • 64% said an employer’s commitment to work-life balance was important
  • 70% said they feel more productive when working remotely, but only 40% are empowered to do so 

HReality Check 

Ringus noted that it’s not solely the job of the employer to create the culture from the top down, but rather for all members of the team to bring the culture they want to see into the office every day.

For employees, the leading culture factors include authenticity, work-life balance, the management style of one’s direct management and the organization’s commitment to employee professional development.

Candidates with strong emotional intelligence are attractive, as are those with curiosity and the willingness to pivot when needed.

Ringus also pointed out that demanding regular advancement every year or two is unrealistic. She added that too rapid of advancement can leave candidates with underdeveloped skill sets that will ultimately derail their careers. She added that beauty professionals’ demands are changing, with work-life balance receiving less emphasis than factors such as development of skills and company mission. 

Ringus concluded that employees should manage their expectations and not expect rapid advancement. She added that career development is a shared responsibility and that mentorship can come from peers and other departments—not solely one’s direct supervisor. She encouraged employees to set clearly defined goals and to take the time to evaluate decisions against long and short term goals. 

How to Attract Top Talent

In the last year, Shiseido has launched its Global Makeup Center of Excellence in New York, appointed a range of new management, acquired new brands such as RéVive and Laura Mercier, and purchased advanced AI via MatchCo, which will allow the company to customize products on a mass scale. As Rafalin noted, it’s an exciting time to be at Shiseido. 

Shiseido, like other top companies, pairs younger staffers with senior leadership as part of a reverse mentorship program.

This is precisely the type of environment that draws and retains top talent, she explained. Ambitious people are compelled by being a part of growing something new. In addition, Shiseido offers talent the ability to move across brands, categories and functions, creating attractively dynamic job paths. 

At the same time, Shiseido maintains an internal program for its “high-potential” leaders, and runs the Digital Academy, which boosts the digital IQ of all of its staff in preparation for the emerging high tech beauty industry. Shiseido, like other top companies, pairs younger staffers with senior leadership as part of a reverse mentorship program to provide coaching in a “safe environment.” 

Get Those Soft Skills

Rafalin noted that many job candidates have a gap in their soft skills, including the ability to function and remain agile in an environment of continual change and uncertainty, as well as the ability to learn from both success and failure. She added that candidates with strong emotional intelligence are attractive, as are those with curiosity and the willingness to pivot when needed.

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