How to Write a Fashion CV
The term 'fashion' is used to encompass a wide range of industries, and a Fashion CV could include clothing, make-up, hair styling and accessories. Unsurprisingly, a huge number of people wish to work in the design sector, as it's perceived as glamorous and exciting, as well as creatively fulfilling. However, it's not enough to simply be passionate about the industry, as that is true for everyone.
The fashion industry is far wider and more diverse than designer labels. Careers include the design and manufacture of apparel, plus many associated professions, such as product development, buying and merchandising, sales and marketing, PR and journalism.
To make your Fashion CV stand out, you need to show you have creativity, fresh ideas and a 'just do it' attitude. It's as much about personality and fitting in with corporate cultures, whether it's a job in a design studio or on a publication or website writing about clothing.
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Fashion CV Profile
A profile is essential and should be a short paragraph of just 2 to 4 sentences at the top of your Fashion CV and must grab a potential employer's attention. It's a way of presenting a snapshot of yourself - or, if you prefer, a shop window for your application.
If you're looking for a first position in fashion, then it's important to sum up your experience to date. You should mention your Bachelors or Masters degree in fashion design, along with your strongest area of design. If you're aiming at a position and have retail experience behind you, state how many years and in what kind of retail outlet.
What are your strongest skills demonstrated in your fashion positions to date? List 2 or 3 areas: e.g. responding to market trends, possessing excellent knowledge of product ranges, etc. On the design side, it might be your knowledge of fabrics and good colour sense. Drawing skills, CAD skills, and technical skills such as pattern cutting can also be mentioned.
Retail experience should be exploited throughout your professional CV, as it enables you to state that you have a close connection with the consumers of fashion: the shoppers who buy clothing lines from the stores.
You should also mention your personal strengths and professional knowledge and abilities, including no more than 2 or 3 of each. The strengths you include depend largely on the role you're applying for. Are you aiming to design, sell or write about fashion? Be guided by the person specification in the job description or by background information for the role that you can find on the Internet.
If you have little direct experience, you can easily look to unpaid activities for more evidence that you can include in your Fashion CV. Have you done placements or work experience in fashion context? Have you undertaken your own work in your own time?
What is really important in your profile is to avoid gushing with enthusiasm. Your dreams should remain your own - employers are interested only in the hard facts of what you've done, plus your commitment and motivation levels. Use words such as 'dedicated' and 'hard working' rather than 'passionate'.
Don't forget to include transferable skills in your profile. These are qualities that can be used in any job, such as being a strong organiser or communicator. In the design field, being creative and innovative are definite positives.
Achievements on Your Fashion CV
An achievement is an instance where you made a difference at work through your individual contribution or your contribution to a successful team effort.
When writing your Fashion CV, the best achievements are those that can be quantified - i.e. measured in numbers. These give the employer a specific idea of how you might be able to contribute to their effort.
So, think about increases in profits or sales, time or costs saved, numbers in a team you've led, numbers of customers served, deadlines met or targets beaten. Research each employer you apply to, editing and reordering your achievements to reflect what matters to them most, or even inserting different achievements altogether.
Take time with this - you have a very small window of opportunity when it comes to gaining their attention and your achievements have to do the job extremely well if you're to get an interview.
You can include other notable facts in your achievements section of a Fashion CV. If you have unusual skills or certifications, you can write them up as a bullet-pointed achievement - use words such as 'rare' or 'exceptional' to highlight the fact that your achievement isn't a typical one.
If you have designed garments or footwear that were successfully taken up in retail, then describe these as achievements here. Sales figures are perfect accomplishments. Mention the distinctive nature of your design.
If you have little direct experience, because you're at an early stage in your career, you can easily look to unpaid activities for more evidence that you can include in your CV. Have you done placements or work experience in fashion context? Have you undertaken your own work in your own time? Voluntary efforts are seen as a good sign that you are motivated and dedicated at the beginning of your career.
Fashion CV Career History
Each line in your career history needs to persuade the employer that you're a desirable employee, who can add value to the business.
Before writing your Fashion CV, you should know the jobs you're applying for and the kind of businesses who might employ you.
Every line of your CV should be tailored to these employers, while you can target the CV to individual vacancies by altering wording and order of entries for each application.
Some commentators say that you only need go into detail about your most recent 3 positions on a fashion CV. Others state that you should include every position from the last 10 years, but not from any earlier. Certainly, in such a fast-moving industry as fashion, older experience is unlikely to have a great deal of relevance and the employer will not read that far down your Fashion CV.
The very nature of this fast-changing industry means that you have to show the ability to change in your career history. Adaptability, flexibility and the ability to 'think on your feet' are vital, as is the importance of being able to monitor the marketplace. Being able to quickly understand and adopt new technologies is also important, for even with traditional skills such as drawing still being valued, computer aided design (CAD) now permeates the business.
Team working is as important as being able to work alone and show innovation. Communication and interpersonal skills should be emphasised in your Fashion CV, as well as the time management skills required for working to strict deadlines. Along with that comes the need to be able to work under immense pressure, staying calm while others might not be.
When writing up your career history, focus on describing what you actually did, rather than what your job descriptions said. Each entry in your career history should be written up as an achievement whenever possible. Plenty of action words will convey the impression that you were highly involved in making things happen, rather than outcomes occurring around you.
Description is important in this largely visual industry, but don't go overboard. Try to describe in such a way that an employer can build a picture or overview, without going into too much detail. If they're interested, they will ask when they meet you. Use adjectives that prevent your accomplishments sounding mediocre by adding some colour.
Using bullet-pointed sentences, with 5 or 6 beneath each job entry, create a well-rounded description of your role. You might focus on, for example:
- The kind of products you designed.
- The colour lines you developed and kinds of materials you researched and used.
- The other team members and departments you consulted with, such as sales and management.
- Your involvement in setting prices for styles, products or accessories.
- Your involvement with establishing sales outlets and retailers.
- Any supervision of other workers, e.g. pattern cutters, sample makers.
- Your understanding of the consumers you targeted, for example, age, gender and socio-economic status.
- Your active involvement in assessing new developments in fashion.
- Your involvement with product development processes.
Qualifications and Training on a Fashion CV
If you have studied fashion subjects, then you need to list your most recent qualification first in your Fashion CV.
Postgraduate and masters degrees are much valued, so as well as listing the title of your degree, the institution and year you graduated, you can also use a line or two to summarise special projects completed during this degree.
Next, you can list your 3-year Bachelor's degree in Fashion or Textile Design, a 2-year vocational degree such as a foundation degree from a Further Education college, or a 2-3 year. HND (Higher National Diploma) in fashion design.
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