American Marketer


How to get hired in the luxury market

April 5, 2011


kate-bensonBy Kate Benson

Clients oftentimes tell us that job candidates do not express a passionate interest in the position for which they are interviewing.

These candidates do not 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!

Human resources 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.” It is simple – everyone wants to be wanted.

Fixer and mixer

Successful candidates engage in a conversation, not a sales pitch recounting their 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 “white space” opportunities exist. Then be a good listener but be yourself, and but 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.

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. After all we all want to work with smart, interesting, passionate people who open our world to new possibilities.

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 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?

What is in: Attitude

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

What is out: Ego

“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 do not even know they are doing it.

What is in: Vision

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

What is out: History

If you truly want or need innovation, change oftentimes 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.

What is in: Dialogue

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 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.

What is out: Monologue

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

What is in: GPS

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.

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.

What is out: A roadmap

Job seekers are looking for out-of-the-box ways to get hired.

A specific roadmap or life plan is not 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.

Kate Benson is founding managing partner at Martens & Heads, New York. Reach her at