Securing Technology Roles in the Fashion Industry
If you don’t already have a position in fashion, it can be difficult to get the experience needed to secure a top job in the industry. As frustrating as that may sound, securing senior positions in fashion is challenging due to the appeal of the industry and the passion of the candidates applying. There are opportunities out there for passionate and knowledgeable candidates, however it is no secret that the fashion world is highly competitive.
So how do you get the right experience if you’ve never worked for a big name?
Big brands rely on us to help them identify candidates for them. The standard of candidates required doesn’t change for challenger or leading brands. They need candidates with industry experience and outstanding credentials. They then need us to ensure that they only receive the very best applications.
I’ve prepared this quick and easy guide to help you, should you find yourself in this position!
Thinking Outside the Box
Fashion houses and retailers do recognise that you can find great candidates anywhere. This means the best candidates may work for more niche brands. In some cases, they may not work within the fashion industry at all.
This makes it important to recognise the key hard and soft skills that they are looking for. Remember that most applicants will be passionate about fashion. Meaning that your skills represent your best opportunity to stand out.
This is when it is important to determine and show that you have the key transferrable skills. Remember that you can earn experience through an internship, blogging or side-businesses. Don’t forget to include these as they may be the most relevant examples of your capability.
Entrepreneurial Planning and Problem Solving
The difference between success and failure can often come down to the ability to think on your feet. It is important to show that you can react to a changing environment. But you will also need to think strategically when it comes to problem solving. If you can display both qualities, then you a placing yourself as a strong candidate.
A thriving fashion businesses needs to strike the right balance. A typical fashion house isn’t just focusing on its brand and marketing efforts. They also need to establish partnerships, pricing structures and manage their supply chain. Whilst fashion may be a unique business, these are the core elements of most businesses!
Remember to show that you understand entrepreneurial problem solving. Whether that is through your own experience or your knowledge of other brands. Think of times in your career where you have recognised opportunities or threats and how you reacted to them.
Hiring managers are increasingly looking for leaders throughout their businesses. They want innovative leaders who understand both creativity and business strategy. Having entrepreneurial credentials is just one way of demonstrating this capability.
Over 10,000 analytical or technical roles are created in the fashion industry each year. This is only likely to increase as technology advances and the needs of clients change over time. If you understand technology then you may be able to help the brand in a way you hadn’t anticipated.
An understanding of digital technology doesn’t need to have come from a role in the industry. Experience gained elsewhere, or a passion for learning in your own time can be assets at this stage. As with any application process, the more applicable the technology the better.
Having an understanding of consumer wants and needs is often underestimated. If you are familiar with the conversations online then this can help raise your profile. If you can draw on the experiences of their consumers then you can use this to set yourself apart. Remember to share your insights on a blog or LinkedIn. Over time this will help you to generate more opportunities within the industry. Especially if you can attract the right audience.
If you establish your own blog, this can present a great opportunity to show your credentials. Use this opportunity to show you can read, analyse and share valuable insights. Whenever you can apply data to the mindset of a consumer, this is incredibly powerful to a hiring manager. You will capture the attention of a hiring manager even more if you can use these insights to present new ideas.
Business and Marketing Acumen
In some businesses they will label this as being commercially minded.
- Do you understand how marketing works?
- Can you identify the techniques that work for competing brands?
- Are you able to recognise emerging trends?
If so it is likely that you can use these attributes to help you secure a senior position in fashion. They are all key to understanding how products are sold and why people buy from brands. If you can recognise what is working and what isn’t, then remember to to show it!
This experience is often earned by working on the front lines (or the shop floor). This insight will help you to make strong choices for consumers and retail staff. Use this experience to show that you can generate and apply ideas that will work in the real world. If you can combine this with data then your application will be much stronger than most.
Communication skills are crucial in the fashion industry. Your ability to interact with others could be especially important in fashion where your reputation matters. Clients will come from a wealth of different generational, cultural and socio-economic backgrounds and so have different influences on their choices and styles as a result. Making the ability to communicate with different groups of people a key soft skill in the industry.
If you attend any networking events, talks or online groups then remember to mention the events during your application process and why these events matter. Also include examples of generating real-world action from online interactions if you can.
Remember that communication skills aren’t limited to online interactions and telephone conversations. You could be an astute negotiator or have strong stakeholder management skills. These are skills that not every candidate will have and so will help you stand out as a candidate.
Your communication skills will be important throughout the process. Your application will start with your CV showing how you present written information, before moving on to interviews. Interviews are likely to involve a telephone conversation and then at least one stage of in-person interviews. The combination of these stages allows the hiring manager to access your capabilities across the board. So if you are weaker at any of these types of communication, make that a focus for your personal development efforts.
A Successful Application
A successful application won’t depend upon your fashion industry experience alone. Big brands recognise that the very best candidates can come from other industries. What matters is your ability to match your skills to their requirements.
Whilst passion is important, it is also crucial that you show your credentials too. Find areas where you can add value to the brand you want to work for. You can also use this process to identify weaknesses in your application. Which then allows you to find other opportunities to build that experience. Before re-applying at a later date.
Remember if you don’t succeed, you can always try again. Ask for feedback, work on yourself and keep on improving.
Oggy Nikolova is a Specialist Recruiter for Digital, Ecommerce and IT roles. Oggy tends to combine these specialisms with experience in the fashion industry to work predominantly with luxury brands across Europe.
Check out our listings for live technology roles.