Harriet’s Top Tips For Applying For Jobs (in Fashion)
18th November 2014
Over the last few months I have been trying to replace an irreplaceable member of staff, my Production Manager. Granted the new employee had some big shoes to fill (not really, she was a size 4) and my expectations were always going to be very high, however, one thing I did learn is that not many people know how to apply for a job. I don’t recall any in-depth lessons on it at school or University, which clearly is a problem, especially in todays economic climate where jobs are hard to come by. Some of the applications I received were so, for want of a better word – bad, I felt the need to reply with advice on applying for jobs.
Address the correct person: The company name is Harriet Sanders. My name is Harriet Sanders. Don’t call me Helen Sanders.
Aim your CV at the job you are applying for: Make amendments to your CV so it suits the job role you are applying for. The amount of generic CVs that I received was actually ridiculous and they barely got a second look. Many of the CVs were directed at retail jobs – we are not a shop. The most impressive CVs are those that specifically highlight the applicant’s abilities in skills that are relevant to the job. And even more so when the company name is dropped into the introduction. It shows an attention to detail and a real want for the job.
Explain your qualifications: Simply stating “Fashion Degree 2:1” isn’t sufficient enough. What did you learn? What did you specialise in? What are your basic skills?
Covering letters are just as important as CVs: DO NOT SEND A LETTER/EMAIL SAYING “CV attached”!!! This is your opportunity to explain to Me why You are the perfect candidate for the job. Don’t be generic. Stand out. But don’t write me an essay.
Spellcheck your CV: Check it, check it and check it again. Then get someone else to check it. Bad spelling and bad grammar gives the employer a bad impression.
Research the Company: It sounds simple but more often that not the applicants I interviewed hadn’t even done basic research into the background of the company. Many of them didn’t even know what our products looked like. It’s the first question I ask in an interview. All of this information is available on the internet. Get off Facebook for 5 minutes and read the company’s bio page!
Portfolio Presentation: Most Fashion jobs will require you to bring along some form of portfolio. Even if they don’t ask, bring it anyway. And ensure the presentation of it is to the highest standard it can be. Even a piece of work you are not totally pleased with can look better if it is presented well. When I was at School, Art College and University it was drummed into me to ensure all of my projects were either landscape or portrait. NEVER BOTH. This would make for easy flowing when presenting in an interview. I remember thinking at the time it seemed a bit picky but even so, did as my teachers told me. I cannot stress enough how annoying it is in an interview trying to strain your neck or continuously turn an A3(!) portfolio this way and that because the applicant hasn’t stuck to this simple rule.
Confidence NOT Arrogance: Be confident about your portfolio. Tell me which pieces are your favourite and why you enjoyed working on them so much. Don’t tell me your work “pushes the boundaries of fashion”. It doesn’t. Or that your work is “really beautiful”. That’s for me to decide.
Don’t be late: Again, this seems simple but there are plenty of applicants that don’t stick to this rule and that sends bad signs to the interviewer, who, most likely, has found it difficult to fit your interview into their busy day. There are no excuses. You should have planned for bad traffic, delays, helping an old lady to cross the road. If you arrive early, spend the time preparing for your interview. Don’t arrive flustered.
Don’t bring your Mum: And if you have to, leave her outside the building. She doesn’t need to meet your potential new employer. She certainly doesn’t need to hold your hand in the interview. (And yes, this actually happened).
Follow these tips and, i hope, you will receive a much better response, not just because there are plenty of others that won’t follow these tips. Above all, remember that the interviewer was in your position once upon a time. They will be understanding of nerves. Even I get nervous interviewing applicants. After all, I am selling them the job just as much as they are selling me their abilities.