Fashion Recruitment - A guide to the recruitment process for fashion jobs
The fashion industry is an exciting, fast paced and demanding work environment which attracts thousands of prospective employees each year to a spectrum of roles. Finding a job in fashion does not exclusively mean working for a designer - and industry opportunities include exciting positions in publishing, marketing, buying, journalism and retail.
The first step to a successful career in fashion, or indeed any industry, is to understand what you like most about it - and where your strengths lie. If you have a strong grasp of the written word, fashion journalism may offer an attractive route in, while those with numeracy or people skills may find retail or management a more rewarding path.
More often than not, careers in fashion require a multitude of talents and an ability to adapt to a changing work environment - fashion buyers, for example, must be able to plan catalogues, consult with manufacturers and visit retail outlets. Retail managers must be able to create strategies which ensure their products sell, but also handle practical in-store tasks to facilitate the physical selling of products.
How to prepare
Since the industry is so competitive, fashion companies want to attract the best possible candidates and will use interviews, in the first instance, to select their employees. Like any professional interview, fashion industry employers will expect candidates to have an attractive CV, arrive ahead of time and be dressed appropriately.
Depending on the job for which you are interviewing, it may be worth preparing further. In retail roles, for example, it is a good idea to visit the company's store beforehand, absorbing the atmosphere and picking up on points you could draw from later. For designers and other creative roles, candidates should demonstrate their suitability to the style and character of their brand through their portfolio and their knowledge of wider fashion trends. Buyers and merchandising roles will require quick thinking and numeracy skills - so it is worth brushing up on current events and maths know-how ahead of the interview.
In some cases, the final stage of a recruitment process involves a visit to an assessment centre. At this stage, the number of potential employees will have been narrowed down substantially and gathered together to take part in a range of tests and exercises.
Because of the diverse nature of the fashion industry, assessments centre experiences can vary greatly. Candidates may be expected to carry out professional tasks and role-play scenarios or put together presentations relevant to the role for which they are applying.
Since you will be expected to work both individually and as part of a team, it is important to be able to stand out from the crowd without being overbearing or discourteous. Keep in mind the qualities most valued by your company and remember you are not necessarily in direct competition with fellow candidates: if everyone is of a sufficient standard, more than one job may be offered.
That little bit extra...
Anyone searching for a job in the fashion industry can give themselves a huge advantage in the recruitment process by gaining industry experience. This might take the form of a portfolio, periods of work experience or even maintaining a fashion blog online. Companies are constantly looking for dedicated and driven candidates to reinforce their ranks - and, by immersing yourself in the professional world you are seeking to enter, you will be making yourself a much more attractive - and employable - prospect.