Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Breaking into the fashion industry

OK, so now that you know what you are asking for, how can you break into the fashion industry? First, what do you want to do in the fashion industry? There are many options so consider where you want to be: planning, merchandising, buying, FP&A, real estate, design, production, sourcing, product development, human resources, etc. There are many more functions to consider. After you decide the function, what’s your story? How come you are looking to break into the fashion industry? What drove you to this place?

Once you have that nailed down, what relevant skills do you have? If you are a human resources director for a pharmaceutical company, it is easier to get a job in fashion as a director of human resources rather than a fashion designer. Consider how those industries may align. Marketing is a critical function at both. How could you write your resume to focus on these areas that overlap? What kind of value could you add to the fashion industry?

If you are considering both an industry and function switch, prepare yourself for a pay cut. Even if you go back to school to facilitate the change and earn an MBA or a fashion merchandising degree, you will still have to start at the bottom despite experience from a different industry. It just doesn’t count. The experience may help you advance quicker once you move into a new role as you will most likely outperform an employee with no work experience, but you will need to be patient.

So you know what you want to do, you have your resume ready to go, your expectations for pay and title are in line with reality, now what? Start networking. Who do you know who works in fashion (even a 2nd connection on LinkedIn)? What networking groups could you join to give you exposure? Sending your resume in through an online submission tool is challenging enough when you have all the right experience in the right industries. Face time with a potential employee will get you a lot further.

If you are interested in fashion, what can you do today to begin the transition? What is one thing you can do every day to bring you closer to your goal? How will you start networking? Who can help support you in reaching your goal?

To learn more about career coach Kate Kibler, go to

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