Find a job in the fashion industry

LFW SS2013: Vivienne Westwood Red Label Backstage
(EDITORS NOTE: This image was shot with a Holga lens on a DSLR camera) A general view backstage ahead of the Vivienne Westwood Red Label show on day 3 of London Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2013, at the British Foreign & Commonwealth Office on September 16, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images)

By Meredith Corning

Many students finish their degree in fashion and wonder what to do next. Some applicants have been in the fashion industry for years, only to have their company downsize or outsource their position. Then there are always those whom just want a career change and have dreamed of working in fashion, but do not know where to begin. Getting your foot in the door to your perfect job is one of knowledge of the industry, forming key connections, and perhaps taking on internships or entry-level positions. Here are a few rules to follow in helping you get on the road to success.

  1. Continuing education: The fashion industry is constantly changing and growing. Knowledge of the industry is key. There are many ways to go about this and college is merely one. Taking online courses, following fashion blogs, making frequent trips to local book stores to find out the latest news is a great way to stay current. Dissect every angle of the industry yourself and pay attention to what makes something popular and what makes other designs painstakingly pale in comparison.
  2. Exploring the layers: When most people think of a job in fashion, they think of fashion designers, however, this is only one layer of fashion. Fashion is a business, after all, and consists of various markets including buyers, merchandisers, marketers, sales consultants, and photographers, just to name a few. Finding a focus and working that focus through research and networking is ideal.
  3. Networking: Hitting the streets and getting off the internet is crucial to networking. Millions are out there in the cyber world filling out applications while real candidates are marching into offices with up to date resumes and business cards, shaking hands with the powers at be. Attending industry events including fashion shows, trade shows, and relevant seminars is a great way to meet the right people. Asking for a job makes candidates less marketable, so instead explaining that attendance of any event is a way of developing personal growth and searching for new opportunities is an indirect way of letting those know one is looking. Candidates can also find wonderful references at networking events, but only if the candidate has met the source on several occasions.
  4. Internships and working for free: Candidates cannot assume that just because they think they are the best thing since sliced bread or because they have graduated from college with honors that they can go out finding a job making 100k a year. This is not how it works and thinking such makes a candidate seem naive. Instead, when looking for jobs, one may have to take an entry-level position or an internship working for free. It is better to have something to fill the gaps in a resume than nothing. When explaining gaps in resumes, a good approach is to turn a negative into a positive. Nobody wants to hear a sob story. Show how this was an exciting time where traveling, learning something new, or charity work filled those gaps.
  5. Get down to business: Cleaning up those spring break photos off a Facebook account is critical. Some employers will have candidates login to their social media accounts at an interview. Just because a profile is set to private does not make it so. Not being taken seriously will inhibit a candidate’s chances of landing a job, so making sure an online presence is professional is very important. Creating a LinkedIn account and networking within the fashion industry can be a great way of forming connections and inspiring new ideas for creating a viable candidacy in the working world as well. It is also a good idea to tailor a resume to suit the job that is being applied for, so the necessity for several resumes is a must. Label a title with the job being applied for in mind. Best not to use the title of Creative Director if the candidate is applying for a sales position. Adjust the title to Marketing Director as this will show that your skills match the job being applied for. Last piece of advice-investing in a nice business card, not the Vistaprint kind with stock images will make a professional and lasting impression.
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