As the world has opened back up, employers have found themselves with more openings to fill than candidates to fill them. The current unemployment rate in the U.S. has fallen to just 3.5%.
Fashion and beauty brands have both had to rethink the way they recruit, interview and ultimately hire employees, in response to a labor market that’s given employees more leverage. Many of the new tactics brands are adopting involve shortening the time between recruiting and hiring.
For example, at the Glossy Executive Roundtable on October 6, difficulties around hiring were among the top concerns attendees raised. Aaron Luo, CEO of the high-end bag brand Caraa, told Glossy at the time that he had cut down the number of interviews new hires go through, from three or four to just one.
“If 80% of the relevant hiring managers agree to give the person a chance, we give them the job on a 30-day trial period, which they know about,” Luo told Glossy, saying it makes things easier on both candidates and hiring managers. “Not only that, but interviews don’t always tell you if someone will be a good fit anyway. The best way to see if someone is good for a role is to just let them give it a shot.”
Other brands have adopted similar tactics.
“We started combining ThirdLove interviewers together to cut back on the total number of interviews,” said ThirdLove CEO Heidi Zak. Rather than making a candidate interview twice with two different hiring managers, for example, the candidate now does one joint interview with both. “For certain roles, we’ve also eliminated the project stage of [asking candidates to complete a task to see how they work,] based on their proven set of skills or experiences.”
In addition to concrete changes like reducing the number of interviews, Zak spoke about more philosophical changes ThirdLove’s made to the interview process. She said ThirdLove’s recruiters and hiring managers have been instructed to place more emphasis on feeling out if a candidate shares core values, like a sense of optimism and social responsibility, with the brand.
Michelle Wendell, founder of CLD PR, a firm that focuses on fashion and beauty clients like Lamarque, Keds and Spanx, said she’s had to make many changes to the company’s hiring process. Wendell normally conducts all interviews and hiring herself.
“I used to have a very linear process: put out feelers, get 100 resumes, narrow it down to around 12, interview them each, pick the best one and give them the offer,” Wendell said. “Almost always, the offer would be accepted. But now, I narrow it down to three or four people because, inevitably, whoever I make an offer to might get a counter-offer from their current employer, or they might back out at the last second, or they might upend their life entirely and decide to go be a yoga teacher.”
Wendell said, in fashion and beauty, it’s more important than ever to keep a constant eye on the labor market and potential candidates, since you never know when an employee might leave for a competitor or pursue a different career path entirely. For the first time, Wendell said she’s looking to hire a full-time recruiter to seek out new talent.
“You need someone who is dedicated to people and constantly scouting the market, so you’re not blindsided when someone leaves,” Wendell said.
Wendell also tried a more unique tactic: sending an email out to CLD PR’s entire email list of around 80,000 people, asking for candidate referrals. The incentive was a $1,500 reward if a referred candidate was hired. Such incentives are commonly offered internally for current employees but rarely sent out externally, other than by a few large companies like Shopify or Lockheed Martin.