Increasingly, Gen Z has been the center of attention in the beauty world. Both as founders and consumers, chatter has focused on what Gen Zers are bringing into the industry. But, there are a variety of roles that make up the beauty industry, and Gen Z is starting to fill those positions, changing the infrastructure of beauty. So, we interviewed Náosha Gregg, a 23-year-old freelance beauty writer and full-time broadcast associate at CBS Mornings, and Natalia Guzman, a beauty recruiter at Cultivated Talent, a Los Angeles-based beauty and lifestyle recruitment agency, about what Gen Z entering the beauty world really means for the industry.
What is Gen Z looking for in a company?
According to both Náosha and Natalia, a connection with a company’s ethos and content is paramount when it comes to finding a new role. “So whenever I'm looking for a job, I make sure that they're putting out content that is like really like non-biased that is really truthful. [...] It's really important to do a job that you like, and that resonates with you. You don't want to be in a place where if somebody's sharing different political views, or you have to write and report on different political views or things that you just don't agree with, it can be very challenging. And while it may help with career growth, you might be presented with a lot of moral conflict,” Náosha says.
Natalia also recommends that companies be honest and transparent. “For those that are still trying to wrap their heads around how to attract this talent, you have to be organic in your company ethos. If they feel like it's not a brand that really sticks to their mission or that they're really kind of walking the talk, Gen Zers can kind of sniff that out,” she says.
But other factors, like work-life balance, do affect job decisions for some Gen Zers like Náosha.
“I think the pandemic kind of all taught us that it's really important to slow down. Pre-pandemic, I didn't actually realize it until I actually had a chance to slow down. But like, my physical health was also deteriorating because I was just running around. It was a constant cycle of just school, work, sleep, repeat. So work-life balance is also really important. Just being able to know when you're ready to sign off that you're done for the day.”
Remote Work: The Way Forward for Gen Z?
Many entry-level Gen Z employees are entering the workforce amidst a world that has forever been altered by the COVID-19 pandemic. After universities and workplaces shifted to remote formats, many employees have grown uninterested in returning to offices full-time, but Gen Z is certainly not a monolith, and some workers like Náosha thrive in office environments, though she recognizes that they may not exist for much longer.
“I think I'm one of the rare Gen Z's that actually enjoys going into the office just because I get a better work environment. But I do see as probably phasing out offices just because I think people realize that the commute and spending money on lunch is kind of useless when you're clearly just as capable of doing the same things that you were doing in an office from the comfort of quite literally wherever in the world,” she says. But as a recruiter, Natalia doesn’t hear the same anti-office tone from the Gen Zers she is interviewing. Instead, she finds that many are open to sensible hybrid work solutions. “I will say there's a lot of great candidates out there too that, contrary to what reports say both on the Gen Z or millennial end, there are still, you know, candidates open to a hybrid structure, as long as it's reasonable.”
But, Gen Z is looking for other benefits as well, including health insurance and equity in their company. Natalia mentions that she is impressed when young professionals bring up benefits in the interview process. “Benefits are a huge piece to it, not only for them, but for dependents if they are with a partner or a little one, but even just benefits for them. I think COVID has a lot to do with that with what we've all endured in the last year or so. I think a big part is that they understand that, oh, should anything happen, I should probably be covered on this end as well. Equity is a huge piece that I'm also seeing. There are a lot of smart Gen Zers out there that I think are doing their research and understanding that digital marketing, and marketing as a whole, is a huge piece for brands right now. So they are coming into a startup opportunity,” she explains.
Gen Z as Job Hoppers: Myth or Fact?
Some employers in a range of industries have portrayed Gen Z as a generation full of job hoppers, who opt for staying in roles for a year or less in order to obtain promotions and salary raises. But Natalia hasn’t seen a lot of evidence of job hopping amongst Gen Zers. Instead, they are choosing to load up on internships. So it’s less changing full-time roles and “actually more of short stints of a wide range of internships. [...] They're sticking around when they get their full-time role. And what I mean by sticking around, generally speaking, you're seeing at least that one-year minimum, up to two years. I've actually had a few Gen Z ers who I feel are actually resorting back to some of the ‘I want to kind of set my roots here.’”
But, Náosha suggests checking in at the six-month and one-year marks to ensure that the position is fulfilling. “What I like to do is, after the six-month mark, I sit, and I write down what I've done so far, and then I decide what I want to do, or if there's something I want to change. And then it's really important to see if the company that you're currently working at is a good place for growth. [...] But if you find yourself in the same position for, I'd say, at least a year, and there's been no talk of growth or promotion, or your manager never sits down and says, hey, what would you like to do? Or if at one point, you just kind of feel like okay, this is my role, and this is what I'm going to do if you don't feel like there's a spark for growth and progression in your career there, then that's probably when I would consider finding a new company or just re-evaluating what you want to do career-wise,” she says.
Is Gen Z demanding too much?
In addition to being called job hoppers, some have accused Gen Zers of being excessive with their salary demands for entry-level roles. While Natalia has heard a few high numbers, she finds that brands are generally willing to listen to these demands for the right candidate in the right position. “So there are a few asks out there where setting the proper expectations does have to come into play. But with that, I think it also has to do with the fact that they're doing the research. They know marketing is a huge piece of it. [...] Yes, you do sometimes get a few numbers a little higher than what you would think for entry-level. But again, I do think some of them, even though they are a little high, they're warranted. You know, brands are paying the big bucks for getting that person who's going to take them to the right level for their content and all that. So I think they're doing their research, and they see what is possible out there. Some brands are willing to shell out the money and others are a little bit more reserved,” she says.
But as a Gen Zer, Náosha doesn’t see these higher salaries as exorbitant.
“Just like the journalism industry, minimum base pay is at least $50,000. And I've had that salary before, and I was just making it in New York City. I think what Gen Z is asking for is fair. I don't think we're asking for a six-figure salary. I just really think we honestly just want a livable wage. [...] No one wants to spend 40 hours a week at work and then be told by their employer, ‘Hey, we can't afford to pay you to live in this very expensive city, or we can't afford you to pay for this very expensive gas. We can't afford for you to go to the doctor as health insurance is a whole other realm within itself.’ But I think employers have to be reminded that the cost of living has gone up, not to mention the inflation that's really happening. And I think if they realized people just want a livable wage, I think they would feel I think their perspective would change.”
Bringing Skills to the Table
But for companies that are willing to be open to Gen Zers, young people can bring a lot to their roles for their employers. As a recruiter, Natalia can see why companies should go for young employees.
“The biggest push right now, across all marketing efforts for brands are getting their foot and a bite into all the major digital marketing channels like Tik Tok, Tik Tok really being the one with that biggest push. Every job description will now include some sort of knowledge around that. So, one of the biggest benefits of Gen Z joining is that, obviously, they're a generation that is super organic and natural to that platform. [...] So they just really know what it is that is going to buy right now with consumers, being that Gen Z is kind of the new wave of consumers.”
Interviews have been edited for length and clarity.