3 Basic Rules for Finding a Job in the Fashion Industry

1. Network!

Get off the internet! You and a million other people are filling out job applications online. I am assuming that you live in an area where there is a fashion district. In NYC we have the garment district. In Atlanta there is the fashion mart called America’s Mart. The idea is to go door to door and ask around. In NYC the building doormen, front desk guy or elevator runner always knows what’s up. Ask who is hiring and get the inside scoop on what’s going on. Don’t forget to bring a business card and a resume.

Join http://www.meetup.com and see what “fashion” meetings are going on and take part in them. It’s not just who you might meet at the event but all the connections that they might have. Set a goal to meet at least 5 people at each event or meeting you go to. Go alone! That way you won’t be tempted to just chat with your friend.
It’s also important not to ask people for a job or if they know of anyone that is hiring. Instead ask for a reference. You can always use them and that is an indirect way of letting them know you are looking. Of course that only works with someone you know or have met before. If it’s someone new, just tell them that you are looking for new opportunities and that would like to be in touch.

2. Take any Job! Work for free.

Yes we know you have 20 years of experience, or that you finished school with the highest marks, and that you can’t afford to take a job for less than $100k. Guess what? So does everyone else. A job is better than no job. A body in motion stays in motion. The idea is to get in the loop and not loose touch with the industry. Keep relationships open and make new connections. Most companies will hire interns and give them the opportunity before hiring someone from the outside. If you have years of experience, great…prove it. Take an entry level job and embrace it! Own it and you will see how quickly you will move up the ranks. In businesses today, especially in this industry, there are no 40 hours for 40 years-type of jobs. To get a raise or promotion you most likely have to change jobs. So keeping your ears open is a must. I understand it can be a humbling experience to be without work for extended periods of time, but when job hunting you MUST spin all the negatives into positives.
If you have a gap of more than 6 months and the employer comments, simply say you were doing something new and exciting. Traveling, learning something new, doing volunteer work. Don’t go for the pity! No one wants to work with someone they feel sorry for. What if they say you are too qualified? Come on? Really? Bully them. Say that’s why they know you will do excellent work since you want to move up in the company. Tell them you want to learn the operations from the ground up. Everyone is looking for a bargain! The only thing they might worry about is you leaving them, so say something about investing your time for growth.

Look at other opportunities. You might work at a start-up as a free intern and help grow the company. Tommy Hilfiger’s first 5 employees’ are all millionaires. If you have years of experience, mentor a young designer or new store owner. Together you might grow a partnership.

3. Be ready for business.

Take down any compromising Facebook photos of your spring break. Open and use a LinkedIn account. Give yourself a title in the area you are looking for a job in. Don’t list your hobby as a title since you are not working. For instance, don’t call yourself a Dancer and expect to get a job as a Designer. Your title is Creative Director but you want a job in sales? Try Marketing and Development Director. Another thing, don’t use made up words or titles like Fashionista and don’t call yourself freelance anything or consultant unless you are really starting a consultant business. It’s also a good idea to have a couple of different resumes. Not that you are going to be making stuff up but you want to be able to match your skills and experience to the job that is open.
Last word of advice- invest in a nice business card! Not the free one’s from Vista print with the generic clip art.