Learning how to get a job in fashion and stand out from the crowd is no easy feat. In the UK alone, the fashion industry employs around 555,000 people. According to Fashion United, the trusted global network for fashion news, jobs and fashion advice, 75% of this figure is jobs in the retail sale of clothing.
At the lower end of the scale 1% of the fashion industry is made up of jobs for the manufacturing of footwear. This means that the fashion industry is exciting, bold and energizing to work in, but in order to get a fashion job, you need to invest time in making your portfolio shine. What makes you stand out?
Whether you want to be a fashion journalist, are looking for a fashion career in sustainable fashion or want to be a social media executive for a leading fashion brand, working in fashion can be rewarding. Working in fashion allows you to meet so many people from different backgrounds, who can share their diverse experiences, stories and even offer advice on securing a dream job in fashion.
You can work in an industry where no two days are the same, in a fast paced role where you can step outside of your comfort zone and take on an exciting challenge where you feel like you are part of something great. You could attend London Fashion Week, or rub shoulders with designer greats like Stella McCartney.
You can attend photoshoots and direct celebrity editorials, bring fashion news to a wider audience and travel around the world. What’s more, you can gain creative fulfillment where you are able to bring forward thinking ideas to the table. After all, what could be better than being celebrated for being quirky?
There are amazing perks to working in fashion and there are also cons. It’s important that you get the full picture before commiting to a career in fashion, so that you can be sure that it is what you really want. While having a fashion job can allow you to express your creativity without limits, live out your dream and get paid to think outside of the box, there are downsides.
Because it is a fast-paced industry, it can feel like a lot of pressure and increase mental health issues like anxiety and depression. If you are someone, like myself who finds it hard to work under pressure, you might feel overwhelmed by the workload that you have, and you will have to develop a thick skin.
You will come under criticism, have last minute deadlines from clients and often work hours that are not specified in your contract, which can seem like a lot. Like other careers, you also need to start at the bottom, often on a poorly paid salary, with long hours and huge expectations.
At the same time you might go through ‘job droughts’ where you are not able to get hired because you don’t have the right connections with the right people in the industry. It takes time to build up a reputation, portfolio and impressive resume that’ll stop the fashion industry in it’s track but don’t let that put you off applying. After all, over time the right fashion role will fulfil you emotionally, creatively and professionally.
But how do you get a job in fashion and make sure you stand out from the thousands of applicants that are applying for the same jobs as you? From creating a CV and Resume that is tailored around fashion and making sure that your portfolio is up to scratch to reading up on fashion interview tips, here are 5 key ways that you can get a job in fashion and knock the socks off your future employees.
Create A Killer CV To Get A Job In Fashion
CV’s are the gateway to employment, but what if you don’t have the keys to the gate? You might find it hard to create a CV that captures the essence of who you are as a budding fashion employee, might not know how to format your CV, and if you have less experience, might be flummoxed as to what you would need to say or do, to make your CV stand out when other employees have more experience.
Here is where ‘branding’, identity and personality can come into play. Your CV is an overview of your skills, experience and extra-curriculars but it doesn’t have to be boring. What can you add to your CV that shows who you are as a person professionally but also as a person outside of work? For example, I am a Creative Copywriter, Blogger and Content Writer who specializes in genres like fashion, food and drink and entertainment.
So how can I use my skills as a writer and blogger to draw attention to my CV and make it stand out from the pile? For starters, my blog is my biggest strength and comes in handy when I am applying for social media, writing, copywriting and editing jobs, as I have proven that I have independently forged a ‘brand identity’ for myself, which is popular with my target audience. I have demonstrated results, metrics, stats and high quality of content that shows I am worth hiring because I believe in the value of the brand I have created.
I make sure that my strengths are highlighted at the top of my CV because recruiters spend approximately 30 seconds assessing whether your CV is the right fit for their company, and list my relevant work experiences in chronological order. I also have CV’s which are specifically catered for a job that I am going for. For example my ‘Fashion Writer’ CV will outline all my experience in the fashion industry as a writer and what I can bring to my next role.
I also have a ‘generic CV’ with all of my experiences listed, which I use when the job description is a bit more broad, and always ensure that I include a cover letter with my application. Never underestimate the power of a good cover letter, even if it says that a ‘cover letter’ is optional, because your resume can be the difference between you getting an interview or not. It can also help recruiters see how you would fit into their company.
When it comes to writing your fashion CV you should include your name and contact details, job experience, qualifications and skills and interests. For example let’s say that you are a budding fashion journalist who has just graduated. You are looking for an entry role in fashion journalism, and have internship experience with a start-up fashion company that you completed as part of your degree or course.
While your ‘experience’ section would be shorter, don’t let that deter you from applying for the jobs you want. To get a job in fashion you need to be bold, innovative and have the confidence to believe in yourself. Working in fashion can be tough to break into but once you do it can be extremely rewarding. Here you would focus on skills that you learned in the internship, what you achieved during your placement and examples of tasks that you needed to complete. Whether you are a WordPress Whiz, love editing fashion photoshoots or are a writer, sell yourself.
A killer fashion CV also needs to be concise, easy to read and use simple, professional fonts. While there are no set rules when it comes to the length of a CV, according to Beyond Talent Recruitment, it is recommended to keep your CV to a maximum of two pages. This is because you want your employer to read your whole CV without tapping out, to give you the best chance of succeeding.
Make Sure That Your Fashion Portfolio Is Up To Scratch
Speaking of success, a lot of job roles in the fashion industry require a portfolio so that your potential employer can see a visual representation of projects that you have worked on. For example, I have managed social media, blogs and websites for food and drink, fashion, business, travel and entertainment brands as both a freelancer and as in-house experience. I also run my own blog and social media channels, have a side business as a creative copywriter and ghostwriter and in my spare time have a podcast on drag queens!
Creating a portfolio allows you to ‘cherry pick’ ‘highlights from your experience, projects you have worked on or even websites that you manage, and is a great addition to your CV and cover letter. For example, as part of my portfolio I have my experience as an events coordinator, where I worked with a leading watch brand, and organized PR and influencer outreach, coordinated goody bags, activities and prizes for the influencers, and worked alongside the brand to create an exciting and innovative event that would spread brand awareness.
But how do you create a work portfolio? Many websites like The Dots and Underpinned help you upload a ‘work portfolio’ that showcases projects that you have worked on, and these are creative websites where having a unique perspective matters. An online portfolio allows you to share your work with a wider audience and can be accessed when your audience has time dedicated to review your breadth of work.
Having a portfolio is not necessarily essential for helping you get a job in fashion, but for roles such as a fashion photographer, writer, graphic designer or make up artist, employers want to get a grasp of who you are as a creative. For example as a fashion writer are you satirical, witty and comedic or does your writing style lean towards being informative, news-worthy and persuasive?
Aesthetically as a social media creator are you into minimalist, greyscale images with a clean quality, a colour maven like myself who is a walking mermaid and unicorn, or are you into moody, romantic images that have a somber quality? Whether you are a photographer, writer, designer or anything else that is fashion related, these questions can help you decide which projects outline your most relevant experience.
You can also create multiple projects depending on which role you are applying for. Let’s say that you have three projects that you have uploaded, one that outlines your freelance management of fashion brand’s social media, one which shows a fashion week after party that you helped put together for leading reporters, content creators and fashionistas and the other is for your input in a brand’s ‘website copy refresh’.
You scroll through Indeed and see that there is a job for a Social Media Executive for Pretty Little Thing. Out of the three projects, you know that the most relevant is the freelance social media management that you did for a competing brand, and highlight all the KPI’s that you managed to achieve whilst managing their brand. This could be that you increased their engagement by 12%, doubled their social media following and started to use new social media channels to stay up to date with the latest trends.
By now you know that your online portfolio should include written and visual overviews of projects that you’ve managed or been involved with. It should also include an insight into the skills that you have, the impact of your work and any lessons that you have learned along the way. For example, if I was using my blog as a project, I would say that my skills include blog writing, digital marketing, editing, photography and content creation. I would highlight the awards that I have won, list my views, engagement and shares on average and my following.
Design Your Own Fashion Blog To Show You Are Digitally Savvy
Speaking of blogs, if you are looking to get a job in fashion and stand out, creating a fashion blog or website will help show your employers that you are digitally savvy. For example let’s say that you are applying for a Social Media and Content Manager role. Your blog or website is a valuable asset, because while there are many people who also have blogs, each website is a reflection of a person’s professional and professional identity, which is seen as attractive to employers. Whenever I have applied for jobs, it has always been my blog that has stood out.
When you create your own ‘fashion blog’ you not only have the chance to showcase your personal style, fashion knowledge and well-curated lookbooks, but you also can chronicle your adventures to fashion-related events, share your personal life stories and offer tips and advice on fashion. You can even set up your own e-commerce shop selling merchandise, which will show employers that you have marketing and promotion knowledge. As a blogger, you are not just a writer, but you are also a photographer, editor, marketer, stylist and researcher.
These highly sought after skills are highly valued in the fashion industry, especially if you take on a role like being an ‘Influencer Executive’. You would be responsible for not only liaising with influencers, and creating brand partnerships (PR and communications), but you would also be asked to oversee projects (management), create social media and blogging content (content creation) and link building (brand awareness).
From a creative point of view, having a blog shows your potential employers that you are extremely creative, dedicated and have the ability to think outside of the box. This works in your favour because your next job role might involve you working on blog and social media content, thus developing a strong social media strategy. You might even be asked to outline a 30,60 and 90 day plan or create an on boarding document for influencers who you work with, which all involve facets of what you already do as a fashion blogger.
A huge component of many fashion jobs is networking, which as a blogger you will be well accustomed to doing. Whether you interact with fellow bloggers via Facebook Groups, Twitter, on Instagram or via emails, DM’s or in person, networking is a valuable skill that many employers look for. It shows that you are comfortable in any working environment, are confident speaking to others and are effective at communicating.
When you connect with others, it helps put your blog in the map, and the more time that you invest in building up your personal brand, the greater the pay off. And it’s the same in any fashion job that you take in; although working smarter as opposed to harder is the right way to work to the best of your ability without burn out, at the same time, the more that you put into your job, the more you will receive in the long run.
Networking Is Key So Attend Industry Events And Collect Contacts
Speaking of networking, one of the greatest and most exciting perks of working in the fashion industry is the people that you get to meet along the way. From designers, to artists, right through to bloggers, youtubers and influencers, working in the fashion industry allows you to connect with fellow creatives who are just as passionate about fashion as you are. In fact they live, breathe and eat fashion all day long.
When you are first starting out and are looking to get a job in fashion, even getting an interview can seem intimidating as there is so much competition out there. Often it is the connections that you already have, that can help propel a career in fashion, but how can we have a career in fashion if we are new to industry? Well, much like I did with my blog, it is all about putting yourself out there.
From using social media networks like Linked In to build up a network of relevant individuals in the fashion industry, to joining Facebook Groups like London Fashion Creatives to connect with like minded individuals, you can easily build up connections simply by using social media. Instagram is also great for finding people in the fashion industry who have similar interests, as is Twitter.
You can also use websites like ‘The Dots’ to post requests for collaborations, connect with other fashion creatives and keep your eyes peeled for fun and exciting fashion job’s that will bring your career dreams to life. In ordinary circumstances you could use these ‘virtual connections’ to meet up in person, chat about your fashion career over coffee and potentially be introduced to key connections.
However, as we are in lockdown we have to change the way that we network. Instead of going to events in person, scour Eventbrite, Linked In and Facebook for free fashion and career events that you can attend to make friends in the industry. Ask questions, don’t be afraid to speak up, and attend Zoom/ Teams/ Skype workshops, webinars and summits to find fashion professionals in a similar field to you.
When things open up you can also be proactive and set up meetings with your connections, whether that be an informal or formal meet up and outline what you are looking to get out of that meeting. Are you looking to make a friend and connection, or are you seeking a collaboration, advice or a potential role in the industry? Just be clear that you are both on the same page.
Career fairs are another great way of finding jobs that match your preferences, especially for graduates who have just come out of university and need a helping hand finding the perfect job for them. Whether you are a professional, or need more fashion experience, going to a career fair helps you talk to industry pros who offer valuable knowledge to those who are just starting out, and can answer any questions that you have.
Whether you are attending a virtual event, career fair or meeting, you should always do your research. If you are attending a meeting and it is with a fashion designer, express and show interest in their designs, offer your (positive) thoughts on their collection and ask their advice on how to connect with other industry insiders, and whether you could potentially work together. If you are a fashion writer, perhaps you could promote their fashion collection. If you are a designer, maybe you can do a paid work placement for them to add to your CV.
If you are going to a career fair (whether that it’s in person or virtually), study the guest or exhibitor list before the event so that you know the people that you would like to speak to. In person you can collect cards, choose the booths you will visit and introduce yourself to speakers. For virtual fairs you can drop in and attending seminars that are of interest to you, collect contact details (with consent) and ask questions.
Preparation Is Key So Do Your Research To Get Interviews
Last but certainly not least, learning how to get a job in fashion involves extensive preparation. Not only is it hard to stand out from the crowd when you apply for the role with your portfolio, CV and cover letter, but getting past the interview stage is a killer. For starters you will often have to do test assignments that demonstrate your ability to do the job effectively, can have 2-3 rounds of interviews before you are offered a job, and may find it difficult to get past the first round. I myself, would think that I have done well in an interview only to be turned down.
But don’t let the cycle of rejection get to you. It does not mean that you are not good enough, it just means that you are not the right candidate for the role. It could be that other candidates have more experience, that you don’t have all the skills that the brand is looking for or in the case of interviews, you might have come across as extremely passionate but perhaps not done enough research on the brand.
Preparation for a fashion job interview should never be underestimated and can be the difference between you getting the job or not. If you haven’t prepared you will stand out but not in the way that you wanted. At least if you haven’t got the job, you can feel reassured knowing that you tried your hardest and if they give you feedback, use it to help you stand out in the next interview.
But what should you prepare for? Unless the brand gives you a list of questions it can be difficult to know exactly what they are going to ask. To keep your back covered you should think about why you are applying for the role, how it relates to your current experience and what can you bring to the role that they haven’t seen before. You should also outline challenges, projects and triumphs that you have had, and highlight your strengths and how they are relevant to the role. What’s more, understanding the job description will really help you go a long way.
For example, if you don’t understand the job you are applying for, come across as not confident or disinterested in the role, this is a huge red flag that will affect whether someone will hire you or not. This is why doing your research and getting to know the brand inside and out is so key because it will set you apart from the other candidates. It’s important to also let your potential employer know who you are as a person.
The average interview will be around 40 minutes, so it’s vital that you get your personality across and express who you are. Think about what you would want your employer to know about you? If you are being interviewed for a fashion role like a junior graphic designer, you could tell them about your education, successful projects where you have managed or created graphics for a leading brand and talk about your most recent work experience and how it is relevant to the fashion job that you are applying to?
Potential employers might throw a curve ball at you and ask you to give them a ‘real-life scenario’ where you thrived in a challenging environment, whether that was dealing with conflict, learning to be a team player or working on last-minute deadlines. For example, let’s say you want to be a Creative Copywriter for Missguided, and they ask you for an example of a challenge situation that you made work for you.
You could say that when you joined your previous company you were plunged into the deep end, not given training or support and was often overwhelmed with last minute deadlines. You dealt with this effectively by not only asking lots of questions so that you were familiar with what to do in the role, but you were also proactive about setting up meetings, managing workload, and worked out how to work smarter so you could stay ahead of deadlines. You not only brought original ideas to the table, but you also weren’t afraid to make mistakes and learn from them.
What Is Your Advice For Getting A Job In Fashion?
Please note this is a collaborative post but all thoughts are my own and are not affected by monetary compensation.