Finishing your degree in fashion can be a moment for mixed feelings, if on one end you have reached the culmination of many years of study and dedication, on the other hand, it can be a bit of a leap in the dark. As a business teacher, working in the fashion industry I’ve had the pleasure of taking many students through graduation and I’ve had the chance to discuss this matter at length.
When it comes to career choices, there’s never a straight answer, and the best approach starts from a place of awareness, however, I would argue that there are many ways in which you can increase your chances of finding you path towards a successful career and in this post, we’re looking at 11 pieces of advice that might resonate with you. Enjoy!
As you complete your degree you should…
- Learn how to manage the connections you developed
- Understand what skills are sought after in the future of fashion
- Learn about the business of fashion
- Learn about recruitment and job search
- Build an audience on social media for creative roles
- Be fashion-social attend events, network
- Shortlist the companies you want to work for and find a reason that applies to them only
- Align your values with your career
- Don’t bulk send CVs, tailor each one, at the cost of taking forever
- Plan a long-term career, we’ll all change careers 7 times so take your time.
1. Learn how to manage the connections you developed
One of your biggest assets, if not your biggest asset (aside from your degree) once you completed your studies is the share volume of like-minded individuals that you have met throughout the last couple of years in your studies. Building a network is a much more immediate goal than finding a job because with no network it can be really challenging to really see what different jobs look like (aside from the recruiter’s description) and whether there are any openings you should look out for.
Even for recruiters, the network brought in by a skilled candidate is a great resource for your company, and building on the relationships that come with a fashion degree is mandatory. If you’d like to go the extra mile, after acknowledging that you are now part of series of personal and professional relationships that will make up the future of the industry in the years to come, you can find a good way to manage the relationships and foster new ones as you go. The alumni community is how your university can help you get things started, by it’s then up to you to find a way to build on the initial opportunities and really grow your network, remembering that you can never know for sure, who you may be helping, or who you may need assistance from.
The nice thing about this is that this is a social endeavour, so if you just got your degree, building your relations with the industry can come in the form of social events, rather than traditional work.
However, don’t think that opportunities will come your way if you’re not well focused on what the industry is looking for, that’s what we’re discussing in the next section of our post.
2. Understand what skills are sought after in the future of fashion
As a young candidate, you have many years ahead of yourself to build a long term successful career. Remember though that this long-term orientation should be not only reflected by your age, but also by your cv. A young and successful candidate is someone who is investing in building the skills that will be useful in the future of the industry.
A company investing in young talent is doing it with a long-term orientation in mind, knowing that the talent hired today will need to be able to address the challenges a company will be facing tomorrow. So what are some of the keywords you need to add to your cv? In fashion so much is happening: sustainability, blockchain, omnichannel distribution, customer experience design, among other buzzwords is what is happening.
I personally don’t think that we should spend years in school before we get our first real job, but at the same time, as a way to ease into a new position, why don’t you try to hone some of your skills into something which is high in demand? This will help you position yourself very persuasively towards the market, and will allow you to be able to stand out with recruiters.
Don’t know where to start? Well, start simply with a course on fashion business, if nothing else it will help you understand that so many different professional roles and skills are required by this fascinating industry, and some jobs are in higher demand than others. Also, some pay six figures. That’s what we’re going to talk about next.
3. Learn about the business of fashion
In order to find a job, you need to know jobs are out there. Sometimes wanting to be a marketing manager or a designer is not enough, you need to be more specific, you need to know what value you can deliver. The fascinating thing about the fashion industry is the fact that in the fashion pipeline so many different skill sets and professional profiles are sought after, ranging from the most creative (such as designers and marketers) to the most technical (such as in corporate finance, or in supply chain management).
The challenge sometimes is that newly graduated students may not actually be aware of what opportunities are available, or may, in fact, all chase after the same positions, making it very difficult to get a strong chance even land an interview. Moreover, when it comes to job descriptions there may be cases where very appealing titles which include in the words of their titles such as “manager” may be used to describe jobs that in reality could be much less appealing than they sound.
The opposite can also be true, positions which may not be what everyone is after, simply because they are a little understating, could actually be a lot of fun and also economically rewarding.
To navigate this tricky situation it is essential to make sure that we know what jobs are out there and how our skills can meet their requirements, this is why understanding the fashion industry in depth is essential to building a long-term career.
If you are interested in trying out a comprehensive resource discussing the fashion industry, please take a look at our online course: The Fashion Industry, Explained, at a very inexpensive price point it’s a wonderful resource to really help you make sense of a complex and intertwined industry.
4. Learn about recruitment and job search
Ok, so now, we’re already building on our network, we’re laser-focusing our skills and future-proofing our CV, we’re mapping the industry to understand what jobs exist and which ones match our inclinations. This is already a lot! But we don’t stop here, now we’re also going to learn more about the recruitment process.
In order to land our first job, we need to overcome the challenges of recruitment, and even if our CV and credentials are on-point, there’s still a game of chances when we’re sending out resume to recruiters.
It may seem quite unfair how some do land an interview and some don’t, but a little luck can’t be taken out of the equation. What we can do, however, is manage this luck, by developing a more in-depth understanding of the actual recruitment process. So for instance, what kinds of questions would we like to answer?
- Are there any specific titlesdegrees or years of experience to be an eligible candidate?
- Are there any specific skills, or quantitative results we should be able to prove to be taken into account?
- Are there any specific keywords that you should be able to include in your CV?
- How is the recruitment process structured? Are there any recurring vacancies, or should you wait for an opening?
- Can it be useful to contact a recruiter before applying to make sure you are applying to the right personroledivision?
- What are the stages of the recruitment process? Is it a single-stage or multi-stage process?
The process of CV-writing and interview-taking is very complex and is not the focus of this post, but we do encourage you to take some time to do your own research and really build a stronger understanding of what you’re up against, it will definitely increase your chances of success.
5. Build an audience on social media for creative roles
This might be a piece of advice that we all have to deal with in the age of social media. When we’re looking into the job market, new recruits are often asking companies hiring them to take a leap of faith, because the truth is that with no recommendation or previous experience it’s very difficult for an employer to understand how you can approach the responsibilities that a job entails. This is especially difficult when it comes to positions which entail a creative component, which cannot be assessed simply through experience. For these roles, it could be useful to work towards building a following or an audience before applying. There was a time, now decades ago when companies used to take bigger chances, and really help a new recruit develop hisher language and stylistic identity, now – whether we like it or not – these decisions are not gut decisions anymore, quite frankly the opposite, there should be some data evidence in your ability to create a collection, an accessory, an image. In this sense, social media is your friend.
Building a strong following, and having a social media audience can provide immediate validation when it comes to showing that you know what you are doing. Moreover, a strong presence on social media helps deliver other intangibles, such as commitment, resilience, market awareness and communication.
There are plenty of benefits coming from a well developed social media presence, and for many roles which entail a creative component, you could consider it at least as a complementary tool to your portfolio.
6. Be fashion-social attend events, network
We’ve already discussed how your network is your biggest asset, but here you should consider that you can build upon your social life to explore new avenues and connections. Meeting a connection socially before applying for a job could give you a great chance to establish empathy and have conversations that might lead elsewhere. Sometimes just being somewhere can immediately increase your chances of being taken into consideration, by playing the right place at the right time. We do know that all of our other tips don’t rely on chance, but at the same time, you should not deprive yourself from the chance of being lucky!
7. Shortlist the companies you want to work for and find a reason that applies to them only.
This advice might sound controversial. When applying for your future career sometimes less is more. As you scout the job market, it’s very important to apply to a selection of companies where you can have a good chance of being taken into consideration as a competitive candidate. This requires you, again, to do your own research,
- shortlisting the companies,
- shortlisting the roles,
- conducting research on how your profile matches the ideal candidate
- Building a good narrative, through your cover letter on how you are aligned with the position
- Understanding weather this job could be a long-term position
- Identifying any special trait that might give you an additional edge against your adversaries
If instead you play a game of “large numbers”, by essentially assuming that if you apply to enough companies statistically one at least is going to give you an interview, think again, this is highly unlikely.
Moreover, remember that recruiters’ job is exactly attracting, hiring and retaining quality talent for their companies, so if you do put in the hard work to align yourself with a handful of companies, you’ll be in a much more interesting and fun position, that of maybe having them all reach out to you, and allowing you to choose the one that is a better fit based on other characteristics, such as prestige, compensation, location etc.
8. Align your values with your career
Following up with what we were discussing a moment ago, remember that once all the other tangible characteristics are in order, and you show you’ve done your homework, what matches you with a great company is not anymore what you do (the fact that you have high value skills has already been established) but it’s who you are.
To make this less philosophical, think about who you are, as your values as an individual are the most important element to define if you will be a good match for a company. If you are someone who is aligned with the company’s culture and its values, you have much better chances of fitting it, and standing out, to work well in a team and to be able to have initiatives that match the company’s goals and mission.
Make sure you think about your values as you shortlist the companies you’re going to apply to, it will help you best understand where your talents will be better noticed and put to good use.
9. Don’t bulk send cvs, tailor each one, at the cost of taking forever
Again, quality over quantity. Make sure you are editing each of your cvs as if the recipient of your curriculum is the only person who you were going to send your CV to. Spend time to look over the wording of your resume, identify the key S.M.A.R.T. goals you have achieved, and overall, make sure you’re creating an interesting and enticing narrative in your cover letter. All of these little details will make a difference, and it’s worth to spend all the necessary time to make them right.
10. Plan a long-term career, we’ll all change careers 7 times so take your time.
If all of this is a little overwhelming, take a bit more of a philosophical stance on the matter. Studies show that you’ll be changing jobs at least 7 times over the course of your career. This does not mean that you’ll have to go job hunting 7 different times, but still, it’s likely that this will happen at least more than once. This is why you could add to your strategy game by starting from a high-turnover position, and work up the corporate ladder, or you could get a job that teaches you key skills that will play an important role down the line. You have time, and that’s your biggest wealth, so use it wisely and invest it!
There you have it, these are our top 10 tips to score your dream job in the fashion industry, it’s not easy we know, but practice makes perfect, and job hunting is a subtle art. Remember one thing, as you fiercely approach the job jungle, those who succeed are not lucky but the persistent, if you keep trying long enough, then the right opportunity will arise!