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Applying for a job in fashion? This is what you should do to stand out

PHOTOGRAPHY BY JASON HENLEY

WORDS BY ALYCE GREER

How to get noticed for all the right reasons.

When we think of a career in fashion, a few things usually come to mind: raiding the fashion closet, scoring tickets to the goodie bag-seats at fashion week, looking effortlessly chic around the clock, and being Carrie Bradshaw (AKA, shopping for shoes and going for brunch in between commitments).

But fashion is not all free champagne and new season Yeezy, dahling. Fashion is hard work – it’s not for the faint-hearted, but it is for the strong-armed (literally speaking, there are a lot of bags to carry). 

That said, when it comes to working in fashion, there is a tonne of paths you can take. Sure, there are the creative roles we all know and love – designer, stylist, photographer, writer etc – but there are also many analytical roles you can explore too, like buyer, merchandise planner, trend forecaster and even fashion psychologist.  

Either way, applying for a fashion job can be daunting. I personally imagine a group of well-dressed, long-legged glamazons standing around a desk laughing at the dorky photo attached to my application. But Megan Cross, a recruitment consultant at Jivaro that specialises in fashion design and buying, tells us it doesn’t have to be that way. 

Here, she tells us what to include in a fashion job application, if you want to stand out for all the right reasons. You’ll notice attaching your photo doesn’t appear on the list. 

You’d think it would be obvious, but send a portfolio

You’d be surprised how many candidates don’t. If I’m recruiting for a creative role like a fashion designer, I won’t read their resume word-for-word. I’m more interested in their style and what they’re capable of, which can’t always be conveyed in a Word document. If you’re new to the space and haven’t got a working portfolio (yet), try creating a mini-portfolio dedicated to the brand you’re applying for, or start building one with some of your personal work to at least show your style. 

Tweak your portfolio, and maybe add a mood board

If you’re really serious about a job with a certain brand, you need to show that brand that you align with its aesthetic and style. Although you might have a standard portfolio, take it up a notch by adapting this for the brand. Even something as simple as creating a mood board to show you understand that brand’s aesthetic and style can go a significant way in terms of standing out. 

Dazzle them with your business skillz

If you’re going for an analytical role in fashion, like a buyer, always include the key figures – think OTBs (financial budgets) you’ve managed, areas you’ve turned around, or categories that have become highly profitable from a product you’ve placed there. Trying to break into a large company? You’ll want to prove you’re experienced in managing large sums of money. These things are really key from a buying perspective, and exactly what the employers will be looking for. 

Include anything (impressive) that’s specific to your role

As an example, let’s say you’re a designer and you’ve previously worked for a fast-fashion brand – the SKUs you’re churning out are going to be a lot higher volume than a smaller fashion label. If you’re applying for another fast-fashion brand, you might want to add your SKU count to show the pace that you’re capable of designing at. It’s not mandatory, but these are the questions they’re going to ask you anyway so preempt what’s coming and provide all of that info upfront. It can only improve your chances!

Show them you know what’s happening in their brand

It goes without saying, but make sure you’ve researched the brand. Know its style, the current ranges, new collections, any design or influencer collaborations it’s done. When I’m recruiting for a fashion role, the ones that stand out and succeed are the ones that clearly know the product. Dropping that knowledge sets you apart because it shows you’ve done your research and are familiar with the brand, which can help significantly. 

Starting out? Find your point of difference (then tell them about it)

We all know fashion is a highly competitive space. If you’ve just finished your fashion degree and are itching to get a job in the industry, you will have to find your point of difference. This is vital for standing out, especially when you’re up against someone that has more experience than you. Ask yourself: why should they hire me? Then make this a focal point in your application.

Alyce is a contributing writer for Fashion Journal and the director and head writer at Bossy, a Melbourne-based copywriting and content studio. You can find Bossy here and here.

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