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Getting Hired in the Luxury Market

With luxury brands increasing their presence in emerging markets and trying new strategies post the recession, there is a rise in jobs. But there is a lot of confusion too. while students don’t know how to find a job opening and succeed in the interview, luxury brands don’t know how to judge the right candidate!

By: Kate Benson, Founding Managing Partner, Martens & Heads!

Clients oftentimes tell us that job candidates don’t expresses a passionate interest in the position they are interviewing for. They don’t share relevant examples of their strategic thinking, brand development abilities or leadership skills.  They do not make parallels, cite examples or show that they understand the company’s needs. Instead, most candidates simply talk about their resume – BUZZ, you’re fired!

HR people want to hear, “I am here because I have admired your company. I like what I see and I want to be a part of the success of this brand.” In the luxury market, it is important to think of yourself as a brand ambassador – someone who is capable of championing the label that you’ve been asked to helm.

It’s simple, everyone wants to be wanted. Successful candidates engage in a conversation, not a sales pitch recounting your successes. The presentation of YOU as a brand should be seamless. The conversation must be interesting, lively, and compelling – always a dialogue never a monologue.

If you really want to land that career-making position, do your homework. Visit stores, go online, and look at all points of distribution. You should have a well-developed idea to discuss about where the brand’s “white space” opportunities exist. The retail market may be vast, but the luxury sectors are limited. It’s important to understand its realms  in order to talk intelligently about each of its facets. Then be a good listener but be yourself. Be self-aware enough to realize the company faces a challenge or an opportunity, and that is why they are meeting you.

Be honest about your failures. No one has a perfect record. But blaming the CEO, the owner, the team, the company culture or investors, is counterproductive. The luxury industry is small, and everyone knows each other. It is best to say something like, “In hindsight what I should have, could have or would have done was _____________. But I’ve have learned from this experience and this disappointment. It has made me more focused on the drivers, the key issues, and the leadership qualities required for successful brand renovation and growth.”

Strive to demonstrate your creativity and strategic thinking in leading a team and in driving a business. How did you take your brand to the next level? What are you doing to increase the brand’s business so that it will berelevant tomorrow? After all we all want to work with smart, interesting, passionate people who open our world to new possibilities. Think of the future and what will make your brand stand out – social media, etc. Take a look at Burberry or Tory Burch – both of these brands conduct exhaustive digital efforts  to communicate with their consumers.

Organizational needs have changed as we head into the second decade of this century. People are the only resource that makes a difference, regardless of the industry. Interviewing and hiring practices must change in order to maximize the organization’s ability to hire the best. So what do those corporate human resource people, brand managers or CEOs want to see in a job candidate?

Companies are looking for people with a positive manner. Skills can be taught, but you should be born with a helpful, pleasant attitude.

“You should hire me because of what I’ve done and where I’ve worked.”  That is the passive message too many candidates project while interviewing. Some people don’t even know they are doing it. In the end, the interviewer doesn’t only care that you’ve worked at impressive brands. If you can project that you’re a capable, hungry person, this will go much farther.

New, fresh, different – that is the mantra of our times. Companies need people with fresh eyes to provide unique, yet specific solutions to challenges that brands and organizations face today.

Companies need innovation and change which often only comes from hiring someone with transferrable skill sets – someone without preconceived notions and experiences that will stunt or hinder growth, but rather the permissiveness to move with the times.

The dynamics are changing in forward thinking companies. While the corner office still has a window view, many CEOs are joining the group, and maybe even sitting next to the intern. This is especially true in growing luxury companies. The offices – and ideas – are modern. This democratic approach breaks down the conversational walls, as it stimulates a constant flow of ideas that can be freely expressed rather than written down in formal memo.

The CEO’s voice can no longer be the only opinion in the room. Creative, luxury companies need to foster a constant conversation about the state of the industry to not only remain relevant, but to stay above the grain.

Following the collapse of the economy and the recession in the luxury market, recent graduates have learned that they cannot follow the exact path that they had originally planned. In order to eventually get on track towards the career they expected to have, young hires must practice a certain GPS-style job search – looking towards the Internet for related avenues and new opportunities.

Job-seekers are looking for out-of-the-box ways to get hired. A specific roadmap or life plan isn’t exactly an option, especially when companies are slashing jobs to save costs.

While the overall economy still faces tough times ahead, the luxury sector has staged an impressive comeback, with many brand posting record profits. Opportunities abound as companies refine their brand portfolios and territories into newly emergent markets. For those serious about luxury in all its forms, both products and services, the future is bright, but one must become a conscientious student of the field to succeed. Happily, there is plenty of room for creativity and a passion for the good things in life. Best wishes!

A founding member of Marten & Heads!, Kate has over 15 years of experience in providing senior-level placements in general management, sales, marketing, HR and operations. It was during her stint in the HR department at YSL Parfums that she learned about the luxury industry. Her clients today include iconic brands like Jimmy Choo, Prada and LVMH.