Lessons from the Cosmetic Counter- #1

I often find comments all over the Internet from girls trying to get on at a cosmetic counter, or wanting to know how it works, what is expected, or just girls that are scared of their first day. I am going to write a series of posts dedicated to working at a cosmetic counter with tips and advice from my experiences both working and managing a cosmetic counter.

How do I get hired at a cosmetic counter?

Let's start off with some basic information. Most counters withing a department store are staffed by the store. There are a few counters who lease the space withing the store and do their own hiring. The leased counters at my store were MAC, Lush, and Bare Escentuals.

To apply for a leased counter position, you would ask for an application at that counter.

To apply for any other counter position, you would go to the Human Resource department within the store. Most major department stores have a hiring center within their website as well, which shows the job postings and lets you apply directly and upload your application.

It is often helpful to know someone in the cosmetics department to vouch for you or put in a good word. This can get your application pulled and reviewed faster.

What experience is required to work at a cosmetic counter?

Often times, the staff within the cosmetic department have little to no cosmetic experience. Some lines will send you off for product knowledge training or do hands on training, others will tell you to read up on your own time and just put you out on the floor with no assistance. Don't get me wrong, there are cosmetologists and estheticians intermingled in the department as well. Heck, I even worked with an attorney at one point. If you think that every person in the department is trained to know how to do makeup application, you are very wrong. Half the girls I worked with cringed at the thought of doing someone's makeup. At the most, they could shade match your foundation. If you wonder why you can't get a good match at a counter, chances are the person matching you has no clue what they are doing.

There are some lines that will include some basic training. Product knowledge and shade matching are the key points in training so that you can sell the product. Makeup artistry is rarely shown any importance. They will fly in regional artists for "events" where makeup artistry is vital. Getting a job as a regional artist takes working your way up through a line and takes a long time.

When applying for a position, you want to play up the fact that you are outgoing, talkative, sales oriented and not afraid to approach people. A lot of your sales will come from calling current customers for repeat sales and recruiting people within the store. Shy or timid personalities are usually weeded out or quit early on. Sales is what gets you hired more than cosmetic knowledge or experience, though those skills will help your sales.

"I really love makeup and can't wait to play in makeup all day!"

That is often heard over and over from new recruits in cosmetics.

The reality is that the cosmetic department is about selling! It is great if you have a passion and want to do makeup. But if you think that is all you need to be successful, you are wrong. There are ladies who are tough and will steal your sale without hesitation. You can apply that eyeshadow perfectly, but if you can't sell the product, you will not last long. Many girls came and went while I worked there because their dreams were crushed once they actually worked at the counter and realized it was 90% sales, and about 10% makeup application.

What is the reality of working a cosmetic counter? What is expected?

The reality is that every counter has a sales goal. Every store has a credit goal. Each person has an individual goal. Along with the goal, your items per transaction are also tallied. Each area can vary, but the average is a goal of 2-3 items per transaction.

Your counter can meet it's goal without you meeting yours. Most counters give commission, which means you make a certain percentage of what you sell. This means that the other people in your area will snatch up a sale regardless of the fact you haven't met your goal and they have met theirs. With that said, some companies will reduce your pay if you do not meet your goals.

Your items per transaction are as important as your goal, and will often help you meet your goal. If you had ten sales of one item each a day, and those items were small items, you would have a lot of trouble meeting sales goals. But, if with each of those sales, you did an up-sell and convinced your customer to add another item to their purchase, you could double or triple the amount of sales for the day.

Nearly every department store offers a credit card. Each of those stores wants you to push their card on your customer and gives you a daily goal of how many credits to open. They often give incentives such as store bucks or gifts for opening these credit lines. Why? Because the store credit saves them money because they do not have to pay the fees associated with external credit cards.

Still want to work at a counter? What questions would you like me to answer for my next blog post? I will try to cover them all within this series.

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