The Beauty of Ulta is the Value Placed on Veteran Leadership Skills

Veterans are an important piece of the puzzle at Ulta Beauty.

Although Ulta Beauty is best known as a one-stop-shop for all things beauty-related, extensive work goes on behind the scenes to ensure that those products make it onto the shelves and online. Ulta Beauty is the largest and most successful beauty retailer in the United States since opening its first store 25 years ago. The company offers more than 20,000 products from over 500 well-established and emerging beauty brands across all categories and price points, including its own private label.

Pete Pietras is the Human Resources Director for Ulta Beauty’s Supply Chain, and believes the company is an excellent fit for veterans because of the variety of positions available and the value placed on leadership. “Veterans make good employees at Ulta Beauty for the same reason that they make good employees at every other company. They are exceptionally reliable and typically quick learners. They will support their leadership’s decisions, but are ready to step up if given the chance. Additionally, they tolerate stress and don’t allow it to affect their ability to solve problems or make decisions,“ he said.

He stressed that opportunities abound for veterans at Ulta Beauty. “As a retail-based organization, everything we do is to ensure customer satisfaction. That goal is felt in every facet of the business, and the teamwork needed to continually accomplish will feel very familiar to veterans.”

Veterans will find that leadership skills are valued over experience at Ulta. “A lack of specific experience in the field to which transitioning veterans are applying is expected. We are interested in veteran talent because we want to hear about their leadership qualifications. If a candidate can show that they possess fundamental qualities, then we are often able to teach them the business side of the job that they need to be successful. One of the great things about Ulta Beauty is that we are not interested in one specific type of leadership style or experience. We understand that people put their own personal touch on leading; we just want to hear how you have been effective with that style,” said Pietras.

The company considers itself to be a very competitive employer. “Compensation packages are aggressive, on-the-job training prepares employees to meet company expectations, and a premium is placed on people who demonstrate a desire to advance through their work ethic,” Karry Surenkamp, Human Resources Manager said.

A strong focus on individual professional development makes Ulta Beauty unique. Employees receive ample developmental opportunities and training, and are mentored on how to develop professional attributes; career and promotional opportunities; and how to mature and enhance their worth within the organization.

A Veteran Success: Daniel Bozarth

One of Ulta Beauty’s veteran hiring successes came from a DAV-RecruitMilitary All Veterans Career Fair hosted in Indianapolis in late 2014. Daniel Bozarth of Greenwood,  Indiana transitioned into Ulta Beauty’s distribution center as a shipping supervisor straight from active duty. He did not have an ideal distribution supervisor resume; in fact he had no prior distribution experience. What he did have was a variety of leadership and project management experiences, as well as an eagerness to learn and a passion to drive for results.

“Daniel quickly integrated into the existing team, learning everything he could about distribution. In the short time that he has been here, he has impressed the senior management team with his dedication to the job, strict attention to detail, and ability to contribute in any area to which he is assigned. Because the distribution center is still in its start-up phase, there is still a bit of ambiguity concerning roles and responsibilities, work schedules, and processes. Daniel has taken all of this in stride and adapted to situations as they develop,” said Bobbi Fischer, DC Manager.

He began work with Ulta Beauty in March of 2015 and his skills as a first sergeant served him immediately. He is now a shipping supervisor and manages 15 people, as well as working as a project manager to get a new 700,000 square foot distribution center up and running. Bozarth came full circle with Ulta when he attended the DAV-RecruitMilitary All Veterans Career Fair in July 2015 to screen candidates to hire for the distribution center.

The factor that led him to join the Indiana Army National Guard during high school was simple. “I didn’t want to pay for my own college,” he said. Bozarth served as part of the military police and deployed to Iraq twice, in 2005 and 2009 and is now a First Sergeant. Bozarth chose to re-enlist after his contract was complete.  He spent ten years in full-time status, and now serves in the traditional National Guard. He graduated from Ball State University in 2012.

An important lesson he learned in the military was the ability to improvise and self-direct.  “Veterans are comfortable with ambiguity. In the civilian world I find that sometimes people are not comfortable without a 100% plan. Veterans are used to going where they’re told and figuring it out,” he said.

Pietras added that a veterans’ breadth of experience often gives them an advantage over their civilian counterparts. “If you were successful in the military, there is a good chance that you worked in a variety of fields and this shows that you are adept at learning new jobs and processes.“

Bozarth said he was drawn to Ulta Beauty because their recruiters broke down the levels of leadership at Ulta and equated them to military ranks. “That helped me connect the dots,” he said.

Prospective candidates should search and apply for open positions at “Additionally, candidates should stay connected with Recruit Military to find out when we will be attending their next career fair,” said Pietras.

What helped Bozarth land the job:

Leadership experience and knowing how to manage people. Bozarth had gradually moved up the leadership ladder in the National Guard, serving as a team leader, squad leader, platoon sergeant, and finally as a first sergeant. Even though he had no distribution experience, he said it was not an issue. “The recruiters told me that they really needed someone who could manage people and who could come in as a leader,” he said. When I told them about my leadership experience and gave them examples of what I had done and accomplished, they said they had no hesitation or doubt that I could fill the role.”

Dana Lilly, DC Director added, “At Ulta Beauty, we want to hear about how you have lead teams in the past, the internal/external partnerships that you leveraged to accomplish tasks, the challenges that you have faced and how you conquered them. These all tell a story about how you will lead in the civilian workforce and whether or not you would be a good fit with our company.”

Confidence. “It goes a long way, and if you are sure of yourself it comes out when you are speaking,” Bozarth said.

Resume Tips:

Break it down. Go to a resume-writing class. “My resume had lots of jargon. I had to de-militarize it, and even broke down my job titles into what they would be known as in the civilian world,” said Bozarth.

Articulating how your skills apply to the position that you are interviewing for is a challenge. Convert your skills into business terms. “Tell us not just what you did in previous positions, but how that experience applies to the position that you are seeking,” said Karry Surenkamp, Human Resource Manager.

Keep it short (two pages max), and use bullets. “Employers want to see quantifiable successes. Be specific and use percentages, dollar amounts, number of people supervised, etc. By the time I trimmed my resume down, a recruiter for another organization told me he liked it,” Bozarth said.

“Like Ulta Beauty, many employers receive literally hundreds of applications for open positions. Employers will spend very little time looking at your resume before deciding whether or not they want to offer you an interview. Bullet points convey information quickly and effectively. Vague statements, such as those used on military evaluation reports, will not translate well with civilian employers,” Pietras said.

Tips for a face-to-face interview:

Come prepared and look the part. Dressing professionally during the interview is very important and will form an employer’s initial opinion of you. Being prepared means knowing about the company. You need to know what they do, who their client base is, and how you fit into it.

Sell yourself as a leader. “Understand that although experience is important, you probably don’t have the exact type that they are looking for. You are being interviewed because of your leadership experience and your potential to learn the business. This means that your personality and how you interact with the interviewing staff is going to be scrutinized. They will want to ensure that you are someone that they can work with, someone that will get along with their peers. Understanding the company’s values (which can usually be found on their website) will go a long way to understand that type of leader that they are seeking,” Pietras added.


About the Author

This article was written by Liz Wheeler