Mister B. has been Director of Human Resources for over 30 years now. After spending time in big luxury groups, he now works for a prestigious fashion brand. And Mr B. is passionate about his job. So passionate that he transmits his knowledge in major Parisian fashion schools. It is actually at school that I met him, I was lucky to have him as a teacher. When I thought about writing this article, I needed advice from a real recruiter. It was obvious to me that I needed his. The article has therefore turned into an interview, where he gives you all the secrets to get THE fashion job you’re dreaming about.
What is the ideal school path to succeed in getting an internship or a first job in the fashion industry ?
There are not ! It depends on the job you want. There are traditional business schools or universities (generalist programs). It is possible for students from general education to enter the business of fashion. For careers requiring professional expertise (accountant, lawyer, human resources), it is not necessary to go through a fashion school.
On a certain number of jobs in the fashion industry, and especially close to production, technical knowledge (materials, cuts, products) is required. It is preferable to have an initial training or one complimentary to your general cursus (as a Master or a MBA) turned on the fashion sector. It’s not that others will not succeed ! It will just take longer. The company is obviously looking for someone to be operational quickly.
It is really penalizing not to have a fashion cursus ?
Nothing is penalizing. In the field of human resources, there is no rule that says you have to come from this or that cursus (thankfully !). Through internships, people with a very general training can learn a lot from the industry, which will allow them to be quickly operational when they looks for a job at the end of their studies. There are no barriers but it’s much simpler when you have been following a fashion path from the beginning. The companies are increasingly in need of people that are experts in their field. This expertise needs to be acquired as soon as possible and takes time ! The general culture, being passionate, reading, watching, and learning by yourself can largely complement a certain amount of knowledge.
What are the application mistakes to avoid, those that recruiters no longer want to see ?
Because we are in the fashion industry, candidates tend to add aestheticism to the resume, which sometimes makes it unreadable. This is not the purpose of the resume. The resume must remain simple, readable, easy to understand. It’s your professional ID. When you read it, you have to know directly who the person is, what their background is, and so on. A picture of yourself is not mandatory. It is advised when applying for a representation job (such as PR or sales assistant). The picture must remain simple (no holidays pictures, nor the saddest ID picture !). There is no perfect CV. No need to cheat either, it is so easy to discover !
But the real problem is not so much the CV, it is the candidates who send us applications without specifying what type of position they are looking for. They apply for “where there is room”, but it is not the same thing to apply to be a sales assistant or to work in the marketing department. First, define what you want to do ! You do not go on vacation, charging the car, starting it and driving indefinitely on the highway without knowing if you are going to the mountain or the seaside (laughs).
Be careful to reread your cover letter. Even if it tends to disappear with the appearance of new professional networks (LinkedIn, FashionJobs, …) pay attention to its content, or the application email content (which now serves as a cover letter).
The most important thing, my main advice, is regarding your behavior. We want to hire someone nice ! If you’re not smiling, you might be out of Harvard or Polytechnic, I do not want to work with you. Be relaxed, show who you are, and convey the fact that you are someone positive and friendly !
How to make the difference during an interview ?
Do not stress, you do not play your life ! Show who you are. Again, the most important advice : be friendly, open, jovial, positive, nice ! Have a smile on your face. Smiles attract smiles. There are not really “things to do” but rather “not to do ». It is common sense like paying attention to your posture.
Conversely, the candidate, must ask himself if he wants to work with his future boss. The interview, we tend to forget it, is mutual !The company doesn’t have an absolute power.
Since we are in fashion, can we wear a fashionable outfit for a job interview?
Generally yes, but sensibly. You must not take any risk. The best, to avoid any risk, is to stay in the classic “black and white”, and complete with accessories. Avoid sportswear outfits. It is also good to adapt the outfit to the company for which you are applying. Avoid wearing a Chanel t-shirt if you are applying for Sait Laurent (laughs). It’s common sense ! However, if you wear an accessory of the brand for which you are applying, it will be pleasantly noticed.
Thanks to Mr. B. for the time he dedicated me, and for his precious advice.
SMILE ! Now you’re ready to get the job of your dreams !