Breaking into the fashion industry

March, 2016

Emma Burke, online editor at multi-award winning fashion retailer Jules B, offers some advice on landing your first role in this dynamic and competitive industry

The fashion industry is large and complex, so knowing which role you want to target is essential. You might already have some idea of the area you want to work in, but if your degree could lead to a number of roles then you need to narrow down your options. You can do this by doing some work experience and taking a look at job profiles in the creative arts sector.

If you're applying to a company speculatively, make sure you know who to contact and what their interests and accomplishments are. For example, if you're applying to a fashion house, find the right head of department; if it's a magazine, find out which editor you want to write for. Take a look at how to write a speculative job application.

From keeping an updated and stylish blog to an Instagram or Pinterest board full of your own ideas and inspiration, you should take advantage of every opportunity to get your work noticed

Showcase your passion and talent

Having a social media presence is incredibly important for showing any potential employers that you're internet savvy and that your ideas can work online. From keeping an updated and stylish blog to an Instagram or Pinterest board full of your own ideas and inspiration, you should take advantage of every opportunity to get your work noticed.

Fashion shows and competitions are a great place to showcase your designs and the quality of your work. Whether it's a university show or a regional event, you'll get the chance to put your clothes out there for the public to admire and it's a great chance to meet some like-minded people. Fashion houses are often known to scout out new talent at student shows and your hard work can sometimes pay off.

If there's nothing available in your local area, don't be afraid to organise your own fashion show. Use your friends as models and keep your blog and social media updated with all of the goings-on. These kinds of events show your passion and dedication, and you never know who might be watching.

Write a great CV and cover letter

As your CV and cover letter are the first chance you get to make a good impression, you should take the time to get them right. If you do your research, you should have a shortlist of jobs you would really like, so put together a tailored CV and cover letter for each of them, rather than sending out one generic application to many companies. Ensure that you show you have all of the experience and skills they are asking for in the job specification, and back up your points with examples.

If you're lacking experience for the role, use your cover letter to show how much you want the job and what you can bring to their team. Try to keep your letter to one page, as someone working in the notoriously busy fashion industry probably doesn't have the time to read something that is much longer. Get advice on perfecting your CV and cover letter.

Impress in your interview

Your interview is hugely important as it's your chance to show your knowledge, professionalism, and experience. Know your CV inside out, and be ready to back up any experience you have outlined with some real-life examples. If you know in advance who your interview is with, look them up on the company website or LinkedIn for an insight into their background. Be sure to prepare some questions beforehand, and don't be afraid to speak up during the interview.

Discover how to prepare for an interview.

You want to work in the industry, so it stands to reason that you will have a good sense of fashion. You can show this by dressing professionally for any interviews you have with potential employers. Keep your outfit smart, but feel free to show that you have a sense of style.

Consider doing an internship

Internships are a great way to develop your skills and experience within a fashion environment. They are also a great way to make contacts and network with colleagues that could potentially help you further down the line.

As most internships are short-term, they are advertised quite often and are filled quite quickly. Be sure to stay on the ball to find one perfect for you. Look into designers, magazines and retailers - brands such as Jules B are often looking for talented graduates.

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