Applying for your dream job role can be a daunting prospect, but having trying to break into highly competitive industries such as fashion to secure your first position can make things even more overwhelming. The competition for entry level roles in the fashion sector is at an all-time high, and in order to get your foot in the door, you have to differentiate your application from the sea of other applicants.
We asked five employees of fashion brand, bonprix, about how they came to land their roles within the fashion industry. Rosie, offline campaign manager; Paul, marketing services department manager and Suzanna, marketing campaign manager, Jenna, finance analyst, and Lydia, bonprix’s project manager, all offer their top tips for working in fashion.
Get Some Work Experience
Most employers nowadays will expect applicants to have undertaken work experience placements in relevant industry sectors. Internships and placements are a great opportunity to learn job-specific skills and gain experience in working in a professional environment. Having numerous different placements under your belt can separate you from the sea of other applicants when applying for your first job. Get in touch with companies you would like to work for and ask if they have placements available, and the careers advice services at universities are a great place to start.
Lydia - I completed a placement year as part of my university degree, I can’t stress enough how important this year of work experience was. It allowed me to practise some of learning’s but most importantly prepared me for the real world when I completed my degree. Having this experience was also a real positive when applying for my first graduate job.
Paul - From turning 16, I worked in supermarkets and pubs, which gave me a good work ethic and customer focus.
Suzanna – I mostly did admin work, then writing for news agencies and newspapers to get a foot in the door.
Understand Your Transferrable Skills
Many skills that you learn at university can be transferred into a working environment. You might not realise it, but all those group presentations and research tasks will definitely come in handy. Even being able to use computer applications such as Excel and Outlook confidently are highly desirable skills.
Lydia - Adaptability is a really positive thing to have in any team, we have to work with new people all the time and adapt to changes within the work place. Not being able to adapt to change can really hold you back in your career!
Jenna – Progression is key. Keep developing your skills wherever the opportunities are.
Show a Willingness and Enthusiasm for Learning
The fashion industry is always evolving, and is never the same from one year to the next. This ever changing nature means that anyone working within the industry will have to adapt to any changes that occur. For example, the rise in the popularity of social networks over the past few years has meant that the majority of large brands will now be active on multiple social platforms.
Paul – I’d employ somebody who I’m happy to spend 40 hours of my life each week with, somebody with the aptitude for the job they are going to be doing and a willingness to learn.
Rosie – Applicants have to be passionate about the position, have a clear eagerness to learn, and a lot of enthusiasm, and if not direct experience, transferable skills.
Suzanna - Read up on marketing and PR (and get some work experience) as the industry is expanding, evolving and becoming increasingly important to our economy.
Make the Most of Your Education
A university degree is now a fairly common prerequisite for most fashion roles. However, your degree subject does not always necessarily have to directly relate to your chosen industry – some companies just ask for a 2:1 in any discipline for example. Joining a sports team or society at university is a great way shows off your interests and initiative which employers find desirable.
Suzanna - Was invaluable to me in terms of transferable skills such as teamwork, organising and presenting thoughts/ideas, working creatively, project management and so on. Also helped me become a better writer, which has served me well as a journalist and copywriter.
Paul - Yes, I did a degree in Maths and Computer Science. Rightly or wrongly, the opportunities I’ve had in my career aren’t really open to people without a degree, so it’s had a huge impact.
Lydia - Yes I went to Huddersfield University where I did a four year sandwich degree studying marketing and retail. It has had a huge impact on my career:
- Firstly I would not have been able to apply for my first job without having my degree
- The course allowed me to gain some real work experience which was invaluable
- I developed some important skills while I was there which I use in my day to day job role – communication skills / presentation skills / influencing skills.
Love What You Do
Going to work every day when you enjoy your job is a great feeling, and not only that, choosing a job you love means you’ll never have to work a day in your life – as the saying goes.
Rosie - The best part about working in fashion is that I have a personal interest in the industry and so being able to see how the business works and taking part in activities that all link to a subject that genuinely appeals to me is a real bonus and something that provides job satisfaction.
Paul - The team at bonprix are great. As long as you are working with people you like, coming to work can be enjoyable.
Lydia - It is exciting working for a brand with such great potential. It’s been great seeing the brand grow in the UK and exciting to see what the future holds.
Obtaining a job is a difficult task in this day and age no matter what industry you wish to work in. Although, by doing everything you can in order to make yourself more employable and differentiate yourself from the competition will stand you in the best possible position. Be sure to apply for roles which you think you would enjoy and be a good fit for, and then with any luck all your efforts will be rewarded in your dream job in fashion.
For more information bonprix visit www.bonprix.co.uk