Talent   //   May 10, 2024

Hiring frustrations top beauty industry gripes as US job openings slide to 3-year low

This article was first published on WorkLife sibling Glossy.

On Wednesday, The Bureau of Labor Statistics announced that U.S. job openings fell to a three-year low in March, with around 325,000 fewer job openings than in February and a drop in both individuals quitting their jobs and employer layoffs. It signaled a continued cooling of the U.S. job market that’s set to impact all industries.

Anecdotally, hiring is a growing issue plaguing beauty and wellness brands of all sizes. During Glossy’s Beauty Leaders Dinner in Los Angeles at the end of April, top beauty and wellness founders and executives anonymously called hiring and retaining talent a top issue. 

Their stated concerns included hiring executives fast enough to scale their business, hiring leaders skilled at managing a remote team and keeping younger workers energized amid hybrid work schedules. 

“It feels like we’re looking for a unicorn,” said one founder, who is on the hunt for the popular beauty brand’s first C-suite hire to navigate its growing omnichannel distribution. 

Other leaders expressed frustration over executive salary requirements, while others brought up hybrid or remote work expectations from jobseekers, many of whom rebuff a fully in-person structure. “You want [new hires] to get the culture of the company and to understand who we are, and I don’t think they can fully understand us over Zoom,” said one founder who declines to hire fully remote workers. 

Meanwhile, a CMO of a top brand said the company’s 100% remote structure was formed through an inability to hire enough talent in Los Angeles where the company is based. “It’s a funny mix [of staffers all over the country], but it works for us,” the CMO said. “Gen Z bonds through a group chat; they don’t need to come into an office.” 

Execs also told us that they’re frustrated with lengthy hiring processes and that their organizations move slowly due to fear of hiring a poor fit. “We give very specific 30-, 60- and 90-day goals, and we check in at each point,” said the COO of a popular conglomerate of brands. “If they can’t meet the goals, they’re gone.”

It turns out that many of these concerns are industry-wide, according to leading executive recruiters Glossy checked in with this week. 

“We’re in a transitional period,” said Barbara Guimaraes Driggers, managing director of B&G Executive Group, a recruitment company that’s placed executives for Sun Bum, Smashbox and Benefit Cosmetics. While candidates drove the market a year ago, it’s since balanced out, she said, meaning brands have more negotiating power than years past.

“The struggle is that brands are being more lean and strategic, but historically when brands do that, they’re asking for more time and energy from the people they bring on board,” she told Glossy. To reduce turnover, she suggests employers be 100% honest and set realistic expectations, especially as salaries have leveled out. 

“A lot of money was being thrown around in 2021 and 2022,” said Debbie Johnson, president at Premier Executive Recruiting, which has placed execs at Milani, Olaplex and Kosas. “A lot of people got overpaid and now they’re sitting unemployed because their expectations are higher.”  

What’s more, every search is taking significantly longer than it has in years prior, said Kelly Kaufman, executive recruiter at Cultivated Talent, a beauty industry recruitment firm that’s placed execs at Briogeo, Jones Road and Peach & Lily. “[Before this year] maybe there were a couple of people on the brand side who were involved [in the hiring process], but now there are four to five people involved. Brands are being extra careful in who they hire because it’s more competitive than ever before.” 

One big change, Kaufman noted, is that brands now require a deliverable project for nearly all roles, whereas that may have just been required from creative hires in the past. 

Frances Mazur, executive recruiter at Mazur Group, which has placed execs at Summer Fridays, Amika and Furtuna Skin, told Glossy she’s seen a growing bifurcation of companies either putting hiring on hold or unable to hire fast enough. “Many brands didn’t hit their revenue goals for 2023, so they need to adjust their hiring plan for 2024,” she said. “But we also see companies that did hit their 2023 goals being bullish by hiring for multiple roles to capitalize on their success.”

Luckily, some respite could come in the coming year thanks to a ruling last month from the Federal Trade Commission, which announced a new rule banning some noncompete agreements, which are enforceable in states like New York, but not in California. However, lawsuits have already been filed to impede on the September 2024 deadline, according to the National Law Review. That aligns with the feedback Glossy heard from recruiters this week. 

“How [this noncompete ban] will shake out is TBD,” said Mazur. “But it’s a signal to the industry that noncompetes may not last much longer, which will have a big impact on talent in NYC where there is a big beauty community and strict non-compete enforcement.”

As far as keeping younger hybrid workers energized and excited to be in-office, mentoring should be a top priority, said Johnson. “Leaders should create environments where there is on-site training to create value [for Gen-Z workers to want to] come in,” she said. 

Johnson also noted that, historically, election years bring variables. “The job market will slow as we approach the election,” she told Glossy. Therefore, offering can’t-miss perks is the name of the game. Recruiters told us these can include stock options, a hybrid schedule and more millennial-focused perks, like egg freezing or tuition reimbursement for masters programs. 

“Top talent says ‘no’ more than it says ‘yes’ [to new roles],” Johnson said. “So you have to inspire them to take the leap.”