May 30, 2014

a recruitment day with benefit cosmetics | update

I know a few of you may be thinking 'woah there, that's a bloody lengthy blog post', but do stick around. After posting my experience of the Benefit cosmetics recruitment day a few weeks ago I got an overwhelming response and noticed that the page views for that post were almost more than anything I've ever received before, crazy times! A lot of you said that you were interested to see what the response from Benefit would be after I sent my complaint in, so here it is. I've edited the email into sections with quotation marks and have put my views on each part underneath in italics, this just makes it all a bit easier to read and understand.

"After speaking with our Area Manager, I do understand that the initial interviews were taken in a training room. Unfortunately space in Department stores can be limited, however we will take your feedback on board for future dates. I do appreciate that it may have been disappointing not to have received follow up questions regarding your blog events etc. Please rest assured that we would have been pleased to hear of this, however in order for Benefit as a company to be fair and consistent in our recruitment process, our Area Managers do have to follow a set of specific questions (more elaborate and detailed questions and discussion would take place later into the recruitment process)."

*I wasn't overly hurt by them not asking further questions about my blog at the time, but in all honesty if I was a brand and had a fairly well established blogger that had been to plenty of press events I'd see that as great potential and something to build on. The manager continuing to not ask any further questions about my blog or experience with Benefit for the rest of the four hours is their loss and not mine!

"In order to be invited to an audition, candidates need to score a certain level in this first stage interview. Candidates can often fail to reach this level, and so any candidates who were invited to audition in the afternoon would have indeed been shortlisted. It may have been that the calibre of candidates attending the morning session was particularly high however, resulting in a large number of those you had seen earlier being at the same audition in the afternoon. I can confirm from our Area Manager that 23 candidates attended the morning session, and 10 candidates were invited to the audition. The audition process is also a stage that any applicant needs to complete, from Beauty Consultant roles right up to Director level. It could therefore have been that other candidates attending were applying for a different, more junior role than you." 

*I have no idea where this 23 number of candidates has come from. In reality, all of the girls I noticed in my group for the morning interviews then turned up in the afternoon too, no more and no less.  There was also 12 girls who went back in the afternoon and certainly not 10, I know I sound a bit nit-picky but numbers really matter in processes like this and so does not lying about them to try and cover improper practice up. Although none of us had been asked what role we would like within the company, I was interested in a beauty consultant role as I'm pretty sure everyone else was too. 

"Regarding the audition itself, I do understand your reservation regarding traffic stopping and sales. We recognise that Benefit is very different to many other Beauty brands, and have a very large focus within the Business on this element - this is therefore reflected in the recruitment process, with a large weighting to the overall score and a certain level that candidates need to reach to successfully pass.  Please rest assured that any sales made from auditions are purely coincidental. Regarding your point that the Store had a lower footfall, each store is chosen and assessed before auditions are booked in to make sure the footfall is at a suitable level to ensure consistency throughout the UK. Should the footfall change on the day however, our Area Managers are trained to adjust traffic stopping numbers accordingly. On the particular day of your audition, our Area Manager did not feel that this needed to be adjusted, with several of the other candidates on the day did successfully reaching the required criteria for traffic stopping."

*All I can say to this point is, an empty Debenhams is an empty Debenhams. They can try and wash over it all they like but the place was a ghost town. The telltale sign of an empty store is when the older retired ladies like to do their shopping as they know it will be nice and quiet.

"At the beginning of each audition we do inform candidates that if they feel at any point that they are not enjoying themselves or feel an element is not for them, then we would respect their decision if they wanted to leave. Similarly, our recruitment team will be honest and inform candidates if they are struggling and feel it is best to suspend their audition. It was therefore with the best intention that our Area Manager brought your audition to an end. The decision and any feedback should have been given to you in a quiet place on the shop floor away from others– my apologies if this was not the case. Our Area Manager does dispute that the wording you mentioned did occur, however we regret if anything she said was misconstrued and we will take this on board however."

*Their use of the word 'misconstrued' really irritates me. There was nothing to misconstrue, I simply was not best pleased at being told in front of the elevators and in what took less than 30 seconds that I had not got the job. Being told that the 'manager disputes the wording that you mentioned' annoys me too, this just basically a polite way of calling me a liar. It seems clear that the only reason I was told to leave the process was due to not making up enough numbers of clients that afternoon. 

"Our Area Manager and another team member were assessing on the day, and did follow the appropriate guidelines on the number of auditionees per assessor. Although we do try and ensure there are adequate numbers of tester products for each candidate to her their own, I do understand these were shared between 2 candidates, which can happen with our Beauty Consultants on counter when some products are out of stock. We will try and ensure this does not happen again however."

*Yet again, Benefit are taking no responsibility for any wrongdoings on the day and are making it very clear that in fact this is their correct recruitment process and it has been followed properly. I also find it shocking that candidates having the unfair disadvantage of having to share products whilst trying to complete a makeover should ever be allowed to happen. 

"Again I would like to thank you for the time and effort you spent attending our audition, this is appreciated, as well as the time taken to inform us of your feedback. Should you wish to re-apply again in 6 months time, we would be happy to consider your application."

*Not quite sure as to wether this part has come from a computer or a person. 

I do appreciate them taking the time to investigate the matter and to get back to me but feel let down that the email has a computerised and impersonal feel to it, it definitely shows another side to Benefit and all of the jolly emails that I've exchanged with the PR girls. All I've really gathered from their response is them trying to justify and cover up what went on that day rather than properly admit any real wrongdoings. I've been left feeling, again, that me not getting enough clients was the problem here and not their dodgy recruitment process. My advice, ladies, is to buy your Benefit mascara online from now on and don't invest your time into their silly sales tactics.

May 29, 2014

goodbye starvioletbeauty.com

..and hello thebeautyseries.com! After four and a half years I've finally decided to bite the bullet and  to change the name of my blog. I've changed all my social media names too so that everything links together, there's definitely no going back now which is a slightly scary thought. I didn't hate my old blog name but I made it at just the age of fifteen and I feel my motivation for blogging was starting to fade a little, now I can well and truly say that my blog reflects exactly what I want it to which for the first time ever feels great to say. When thinking of a new blog name I just wanted something incredibly simple yet easy to remember and hopefully this one will do the job. All of my old blog posts seem to be transferring already along with the old homepage link, I have definitely surprised myself with learning some new tech skills to sort everything out with no glitches along the way and what took less than an hour. As much as it is what feels like a huge change, it's more of a fresh chapter of the same book rather than a new one altogether. Don't forget to check out my lifestyle blog too for all for recent travel posts on switzerland and paris, jesscarose.com.

May 28, 2014

aesop fabulous face cleanser

Aesop are well on their way to becoming my new skincare brand, I'm head over heels for the packaging and love the simplicity of their products. Recently I've been having a go with the fabulous face cleanser and love using it as a luxurious face wash before bed. I often run myself a bubble bath and massage this into my skin then rinse off to reveal fresh and baby soft skin ready for my night cream to sink straight into. It creates a silky lather but doesn't foam too much meaning that it's nice and easy to wash off quickly, I imagine it would be great for sensitive skin as it doesn't include a foaming agent which is known to irritate problem skin. I just wish that it came with a pump attachment as it would be less messy than pouring it directly out of the glass bottle, but if you are after a simple yet effective gel cleanser that will leave your skin squeaky clean without feeling stripped and dried out then this is the perfect option.


May 26, 2014

the grown out bob

A week or so ago I popped to Toni and Guy to have myself a good hair cut as it had been far too long since I'd been to the hairdressers. I went in with the intentions of just having a regular trim but after having a chat with my lovely hairdresser came to the conclusion that a grown out bob style was what I fancied and told her to just cut off as much as she wanted to. In the past I've been really quite precious about my long hair but have realised it grows back remarkably quickly meaning it's easy for me to swap and change styles, which is always to my hairdressers delight as they can have a bit of a play with the style of the cut. I'm pretty sure that I had around four inches chopped off in total, not a huge amount but enough to give me a good shock when I saw how much fell to the floor when being cut. I couldn't be more pleased with the end result, it looks so effortless and suits the shape of my face much more than how heavy looking my hair was before. It's also massively easier to style, I blow dry it roughly for a few minutes and then spritz with salt spray and run some oil through the ends and I'm good to go. I also think she did a cracking job with my fringe too, I can definitely see myself sticking with this style for a long time from now on if not only for the amount of time and effort it saves in a morning. I've also let the black dye fade out in an effort to go back to a more natural medium ash brown tone, I may eventually go back to black but for now I'm enjoying my natural colour again.

May 17, 2014

giveaway: clarisonic aria

I'm over the moon to be giving the chance for one of you to win the latest pink version model of the Clarisonic Aria, with the Clarisonic being the best known yet pricey beauty gadget around I really hope this will go to someone who puts it to good use, after all who wouldn't?. I'm going to make it super easy for you to rack up lots of entries too, I'm nice like that, so all that's left to say is good luck! That and I will be putting up a full review of the Clarisonic Aria very soon too, just incase you needed any more persuasion to enter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

May 10, 2014

a recruitment day with benefit cosmetics

A few weeks ago I noticed on the Benefit job search part of their site that they were holding a recruitment day within Debenhams in my city, and as I've always loved the idea of having a part time sales assistant role with them I took the day out of my week to go along to it yesterday, I've been using Benefit for over eight years so I'm certainly no stranger to the brand or their products.

It all started fairly well with all the girls who worked there being super smiley and welcoming until eventually there were so many candidates that had turned up that we all were crammed around the small shop floor space, if I were a customer I wouldn't have wanted to try and fight for space that's for sure. This was for the initial interviewing process which took around five minutes per girl and was done by both a Benefit and Debenhams employee (not too sure exactly what their job roles are). I'm never one to complain about having to wait, it's just a part of life, so I wasn't too bothered about being the last of around ten girls to get seen. Once I was taken in for an 'interview' (by the Debenhams woman) I was sat back to back with another girl being interviewed in a tiny room that four of us only just squeezed into, I can't say it felt very professional. I was taken through what felt more like a quiz as every question I answered there was no engagement on my answers, for example I told the lady that I write a blog and I've been to a few Benefit blogger events to which she seemed completely uninterested which was slightly disheartening. I was told after a couple of minutes that I'd got through to the next process but I'd have to come back the next week as they'd filled up all the slots for that day but was called back half an hour later being told someone had dropped out so I could go back that day if I wanted to which I was happy to do. 

I went back in the afternoon (two hours later) with all the girls that I had seen in the morning which obviously made that whole process a complete waste of time since no one had actually been 'short-listed' as we were made to feel would happen. I have a beauty NVQ2 qualification and I'm well trained in all types of waxing whereas most other girls were aged around 17 and didn't have a single beauty qualification to which I was a little surprised they were asked back. After a bit more of us all standing around like lemons on the shop floor we were eventually all taken up to the training area within Debenhams. The next part we all sat around a table and were shown a role play of how to approach a customer (within Debenhams and not actually at the Benefit counter) to then tempt them to come over to Benefit for a free mini make over which they referred to as 'pamper session'. We were talked through all the ways to rebuff a customers initial decline of having the pamper session such as them saying they don't have the time etc, this included a demo on how to usher someone using your hands and body language which was more a how to of invading someone's personal space. When did it become ok for brands to actually encourage their employees to go up to and psychically grab hold of strangers? This describes it perfectly..

Next we got in pairs and had to show off our acting skills of this process to the whole room, I wasn't majorly bothered by it and found it quite fun if not a little cringe. After this we watched a demo of how we'd be applying five key make up items to a customer, there wasn't much said about each individual product and it was almost as if we could have been working for any brand as it felt like we were being taught how to sell, not how to sell Benefit. Sales is sales and I get that completely but I think it's more appropriate to teach it to your actual employees and not to candidates. I did start to wonder at this point if we had just been brought in to be used to make sales that afternoon rather than being put through a proper recruitment process. 

So after all of the role play and practising the mini make overs on each other we were 'let loose' onto the shop floor. Just beforehand we were told that if we hadn't managed to find ourselves a customer wanting a make over within the first half an hour then we would be told to leave as it would be deemed that we weren't appropriate for the job, I found that incredibly harsh and small-minded. The Debenhams itself is fairly small compared to most and happened to be near on empty for most of the afternoon with either a professional on their break with no time spare or an older lady who wasn't so interested in make up, it was like looking for a needle in a haystack with ten other girls passing by you every few seconds. I was lucky enough to find a pair of lovely ladies within the first ten minutes and let another girl take one of them instead of making the customer wait around for me instead. If the manager had actually bothered to be observing us properly then I'm sure this would have been seen as me showing signs of working well in a team. As it happens there wasn't nearly enough space for all of us to do the make overs and in addition wasn't enough products to go round either so we had to spend a lot of time wandering around looking for a particular product or a mirror that we didn't have which wasted much time. I had a great chat with my lady and everything seemed to be flowing well so I was quite pleased at this point and felt relieved to have been getting on so well. Once I'd finished the make over it was back out to the shop floor to fish around for another customer, at this point lots of girls were mentioning to each other that they didn't expect this would be what our afternoon would involve and lots of eye rolling went on. In all of this time I had not once seen either the Debenhams manager or the Benefit manager on any shop floor observing girls, I know they can't be in all places at once and were clearly overwhelmed with the amount of candidates but it felt very unfair. I found it utterly ridiculous to have ten candidates wandering round three floors at a near-empty Debenhams with others completing make overs at the Benefit counter with just two managers to oversee the whole thing. 

I have to admit that bothering shoppers who were trying to look at clothing felt rather humiliating and I did get a few sharp responses at times from people who were completely fed up of being asked over and over again. If I were in the store that day as a customer I would have ended up leaving pretty quickly with having girls continuously come up to me trying to get me over to the Benefit counter. The whole tactic felt very cheap and like I was on the restaurant strip in Turkey trying to get people in rather than working for a high-end beauty brand. In my opinion I think a recruitment day should consist of a thorough interviewing process where candidates are then short-listed to around half and then each girl should be respected enough to be given proper time to be observed thoroughly to show their potential rather than it all becoming a game of who can reel in the most people. I also noticed that our skills at applying the make up to clients weren't being noticed and if they were it was clear this was the bottom of the criteria rather than at the top which it should have been. Talking someone into buying products that they most likely can't afford makes me feel incredibly uncomfortable and doesn't float my boat at all, I'd actually rather be jobless than be spending my time exploiting customers who might I add hadn't even come over to the Benefit counter in the first place. 

An hour after we began and I found another really kind lady who was wonderfully easy to talk to and called me a sweetheart a number of times. I was really pleased as the products looked lovely on her and she seemed really engaged with the whole process which was completely reassuring. Once I'd finished her make up and was back on the shop floor I took the decision to stand my ground on the bottom floor close to the doors where new people were coming in to avoid the nightmare on the top floors of people who had been asked over and over again. I saw this as taking initiative and being confident enough to be directly in the eye-line of both managers rather than taking the easy option of hiding away on the other floors; apparently the manager didn't agree and shortly after she came over to tell me that they wouldn't be taking me any further and this was the reason. To be told I hadn't got a job on the shop floor with all of the other girls and customers walking by in what took less than 20 seconds was completely humiliating and I was in complete shock that this would ever happen in a recruitment process. The other reason she gave was that 'two customers in two hours isn't good enough', I'm not sure what logic she based that on as I think that's more than good enough in a deserted store with ten girls running around like headless chickens, and if she took the time to give me constructive feedback I could have explained that in fact I got three customers in that time. I was then taken to get my bag and told I would get a 15% discount code (so the thanks I get for making them sales that afternoon and giving up my day is to put money back into their pocket) and to reapply again in six months time.. cheers Benefit and Debenhams. I have to admit I did let out an accidental laugh when she mentioned the discount.. maybe she should have paid more attention to me telling her that I'm a beauty blogger.

Ultimately employers can't employ everyone and that's just life but having a brash and unforgiving attitude towards candidates is absolutely not on. It was my first ever recruitment day and formal interview kind of situation and although I wasn't too nervous I feel incredibly sorry for any of the girls who got the same treatment who struggle with confidence or self-esteem.

I'm going to round off this lengthy blog post now but just to clarify, I don't hold Benefit as a brand completely accountable for the absolute mess of a process that took place yesterday, I've sent in a complaint to both Debenhams and to Benefit to hopefully find out just what went wrong. If this is standard practice and how Benefit usually treat candidates then I'm really disappointed that they are letting themselves down like this! If a beauty brand's price point is set at the luxury end of the scale then they sure as hell shouldn't be trying to teach their employees market stall tactics.