First of all, congratulations class of 2020 – you made it! As Beyoncé said, ‘You have arrived in the middle of a global crisis, a racial pandemic and worldwide expression of outrage at the senseless killing of yet another unarmed Black human being. And you still made it’. There’s no denying it, these don’t feel like the best times to be graduating, but remember that if you’ve made it through everything that’s happened so far this year, you can find your way through this! It just may look a little different than you imagined.
To help you navigate your next steps, I’ve put together five questions that all graduates should ask themselves when job hunting. These can help reveal potential opportunities in the market and, hopefully, offer a positive new perspective on how to make the most of the current situation.
Does it have to be ‘fashion’ fashion?
When I graduated from University with a Fashion Journalism degree, I would have never guessed that I’d have ended up working for not only one, but two tech-focused companies. But in fact, a considerable part of my current role at EDITED involves creating runway reports during fashion week and producing articles on trending fashion/culture topics. These reports help inform buying and digital teams from large fashion companies – such as Zara and Boohoo – to make informed retail decisions on their future strategies. The knowledge I’ve acquired during my current role has given me transferable skills that open up more job opportunities for me in the future.
You can also consider looking at similar roles in other creative sectors such as lifestyle, beauty or homeware. For example, if you’re interested in influencer marketing, why not see whether a homeware brand who is looking to build its social presence is looking for a graduate who can help build their social presence? It doesn’t have to be forever, but it will give you the necessary experience to dip back into traditional fashion role when the economy stabilises.
Have I assessed what the industry actually needs right now?
COVID-19 has accelerated the use of digital and social technologies, as brands focus on their e-commerce websites and building social communities online. This has created more demand and job opportunities in data/consumer analysis, social content and data science (coding and front end development for example). Consumers growing awareness of sustainability has also led to the re-sale industry booming, with sites like The Real Real and Verstaire currently holding open vacancies.
Think about the skills that you already have under your belt and the software that you can use – such as Adobe Photoshop or Excel – and make sure that these are highlighted on your CV, employers will be looking for these additional skill sets that will make you stand out from the rest.
Don’t know how to use Adobe programs or want to learn basic coding? Utilise your time after graduating or the weekends to take some short online courses, there’s a lot that you can learn from a quick search on Google, YouTube or via General Assembly for free.
Top Tip: Farfetch and Zalando are currently hiring for analysis roles, why not have a search through sites such as BOF and Fashion Workie to see what’s out there?
Could I consider a short-term contract?
A lot of graduates don’t land a job straight after University, so don’t be discouraged if job hunting is taking longer than anticipated. When I took my first job out of University, which is where I still am today, I was initially hired for three months to produce runway coverage over the men and womenswear fashion weeks. Three months then turned into six months, then 12 months, and so on – you get the gist.
If the companies you are looking to work for are only taking on temporary roles at the moment this is a chance for you to get your foot in the door. Make strong connections and increase your chances of a permanent hire. Even if they can’t extend your contract, you’ll be top of mind to re-hire once the budget has increased.
In contrast, short-term contracts are an excellent way for you to test out different roles and see what you like before you commit to a permanent position. Make the most of this time to try out a few different jobs and learn what you’re interested in – you may even discover an entirely new role that you didn’t know existed before.
Is remote working important for me?
The majority of fashion companies are working from home at the moment, with the likelihood being that the new home office will stick for many post-COVID. As you’re likely to be working from home when you start your new job, it’s worth thinking about what roles are suited to remote working or companies that already have a remote working policy in place. For instance, there are many remote roles for copywriters, social media managers and even personal stylists that you could look into, such as Stitch Fix.
What am I willing to sacrifice?
Ask yourself, what are you willing to sacrifice to be where you want? Are you prepared to stay on a friend’s couch for a few days/weeks/months will you get your feet on the ground? Can you find a place to rent with a rolling contract so you can be flexible with temporary work contracts? Can you take on a similar role at a different company in an adjacent sector – such as lifestyle or homeware – to gain transferable experience?
Of course, you already know that networking is at the heart of Pepper Your Talk and you can still grow and nurture your network from home! Keep in touch with your ex-coursemates for support, let your friends and family know that you’re looking for a job and use social platforms such as LinkedIn to build your professional network.
Even better, leave a comment on this post and get chatting with fellow graduates who are job hunting during this period.
Words by Heather Ibberson