Getting a job in fashion
George Burton is Creative Manager at online fashion retail brand boohoo.com, He shared six pieces of advice for fashion and design careers.
1. Don’t underestimate your education
An eagerness to get started will undoubtedly help, but a good education is essential.
Don’t expect to go straight into a great fashion job – you’ve got to work your way up.
Strong qualifications will help your CV stand out among the hundreds of other applications employers receive, and good grades show not only knowledge but determination.
Unless you have something outstanding on your CV already, your application will be judged, at least in part, on your education, so make sure you’ve done as much as you can that is relevant to the role you want.
2. Take time to consider each application
Don’t expect to go straight into a great job in fashion – you’ve got to work your way up.
This is true of any industry, but it's especially true with fashion, which is such a competitive area.
I get hundreds of applications when I’m recruiting, so you need to stand out from the crowd.
My advice would be: don’t just fire out your CV. Make each application unique to, and relevant to, the company you're contacting and the role you’re applying for.
3. Keep up with industry news
Before I do anything else, I often start my day with a quick browse of a few design blogs.
If you can have a conversation with the interviewer about industry news, you'll stand out.
This can help to give me ideas for things I could use later on in the day and helps me keep abreast of any changes or trends that I could use.
Knowing what’s happening in your industry is important for any role, and this is definitely true of fashion.
Knowing what’s happening will also help you out in an interview; if you can have a conversation with the interviewer about industry news this will help you stand out.
4. Use other roles to build relevant skills
Although I work for boohoo.com now, I haven’t always been in fashion.
I started working in advertising, and have been doing so my entire career. However, I eventually decided to move from the agency to the client side.
I find designing for one company gives me a bigger sense of accomplishment. You get to see the long term growth and evolution of all your hard work.
Seeing my first advert in a national newspaper was great, and to this day I still have a little smile on my face when I see my artwork published.
Getting similar skills in a different role can help you later down the line when you’re looking for other jobs.
Perhaps a job working in a clothes shop isn’t exactly what you want, but it can teach you what styles, looks and brands people go for – knowledge which can be used later on in a job interview.
5. Learn to network well
Whether you want to work in design or fashion, knowing people can be a great help in your job searches.
If it’s not relevant to the interview, leave it out of your portfolio.
The old 'it’s not what you know, it’s who you know' adage rings true in fashion and design. Networking at events – fashion shows, design expos and so on – will allow you to make more contacts within the industry you want to break into.
These people can either help you or be helped by you – both good ways of getting known by important people.
6. Keep a portfolio
Portfolios are important in fashion, but vital in design. They should preferably exist in two iterations – online and offline.
Your online portfolio would have most of your best work on there for a whole range of different clients and purposes, to show your versatility. It can be looked at by prospective employers to decide whether they want to interview you.
Your offline portfolio, however, would be what you bring to your interview. Unlike your online portfolio, your offline portfolio needs to be tailored to the interview and the client.
Ask yourself these questions:
- What’s your most relevant work?
- How did you do it?
- Why do you think it’s relevant?
- What aspects can you transfer from that piece to the company interviewing you?
Even if it’s your best piece of work, if it’s not relevant to the interview, leave it out.
If you’re interested in design, it’s also essential to ensure your website is designed to the best of your ability.
Think of your website as an extension of your work. This is the first thing a visitor to your portfolio will see, even before any of your work, so make them want to stay on there!