Making (Career) Moves in the Fashion Industry

Whether you’re just starting out in the fashion industry, are already in the industry looking for a new position, or are breaking into fashion from another field, there are a few things you should know to make your fashion career pursuit more successful. While the fashion industry employs 1.9 million people in the United States according to a 2015 report, we often hear that fashion is hard to break into, and that it’s a cold industry to work in. Scared yet? Don’t be! Like any other industry, making moves in fashion takes calculated strategy, hard work, and maybe just a pinch of luck.

1. Let your resume work for you
Research has shown that recruiters and hiring managers spend about 6.25 seconds on average looking at a resume before making a decision on what to do with the candidate. In the fashion industry, we’re lucky if the resume we’ve spent hours pining over even makes it to someone’s desk. There are a few important details to remember when creating a resume for the fashion industry. First of all, know that catering your resume is extremely important. A resume for the fashion industry should look entirely different than a resume for the medical field, per say. Since fashion is a highly visual industry, your resume should reflect that, even if you’re not going for a creative position. Making your resume visually appealing can mean adding color, a different font style, or playing around with the layout. You should also be catering your resume to the position you’re going for. Pick and choose the highlights of your experience that are consistent with your desired job to avoid wasting the 6.25 seconds of facetime that your resume will get.

The last piece of advice for your fashion industry resume? Keep it as clean as possible. There’s no need to go crazy with the soft skills when specific, technical skills are what recruiters and hiring managers are really looking for. Be sure to include any fashion industry-specific software you know how to operate. As nice as “team player” sounds, listing hard skills like Blue Cherry, excel (including pivot tables and v-look ups), SAP, and PLM/PDM are what will actually land you a job.
 
2. Recruiting agencies demystified
Many people seem to have the wrong idea about fashion recruiting agencies, when in all reality, they could be your best shot at breaking into a new role, or into the fashion industry in general. So let me fill you in on what fashion recruiting agencies actually do: recruiting agencies work directly with major fashion companies who have a large volume of candidates applying for their many positions. Fashion recruiters at an agency research and vet candidates to be submitted to the many positions that their clients (the major fashion companies) have.
Recruiting agencies often deal with a lot of freelance positions, which leads me to point out the very common misconception that freelance means part time. Freelance really just means that you’re not bound to the company that you’re doing the freelance work for. Most freelance positions are 40 hour per week gigs that run for a set amount of time, or indefinitely. A freelance position can be for three months or three years, but regardless, it’s a great way to try out a position without being married to it. Some companies will even hire their best freelancers for full time positions! A few well-respected fashion staffing agencies to check out include Solomon Page Fashion & Beauty, JBCStyle, and 24 Seven Inc.
 
3. Living la vita LinkedIn
Considering that according to BusinessInsider.com, 94% of recruiters use social media to fill jobs, LinkedIn is a huge asset to those of us looking for a new job. So how can you use your LinkedIn profile to make some moves in the fashion industry? First of all, make sure your profile is up to date. Your selected industry should be “fashion and apparel”, and if you aren’t currently working, do not say that you are just to make it look like you’re being productive! Many recruiters and hiring managers won’t want to waste their time pursuing a candidate that they think is already employed. You want to let recruiters and hiring managers know that you’re looking for a position, so your bio should say something along the lines of “Seeking (insert field) position within the fashion industry”. The more specific the better, of course. Lastly, to broadcast your availability, you can change your profile to say “Open to new opportunities”, which is a crucial way of demonstrating that you’re ready to be hired!
Besides cleaning up your profile, there are other proactive steps you can take. Join groups and participate in them, follow the pages of fashion companies you admire, and don’t be afraid to send cold emails, or LinkedIn messages to people who can help you.

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1.9 million people in the US work within the fashion industry, and there’s no reason why you can’t be one of them if you know how to market yourself and take advantage of your resources. Go ahead, conquer the cut throat fashion industry, girl!


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