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Retail career - think outside the box

Posted on 24/07/2014 by Emma Dadswell

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“Think outside the box”: an Industry Panel Discussion hosted by the London College of Fashion. 

handle recently attended a Retail Industry Panel discussion on “Thinking outside the box”, aimed at final and placement year students of London College of Fashion.

The panel was chaired by Sally Bain, lecturer and placement year co-ordinator at LCF, and on the panel was Peter Giles - Sales Manager, Retail (Home Furnishings) at Google, Henrietta Griffiths - Retail Head Office Recruitment Consultant, Kate Davies - Junior Talent Scout at Urban Outfitters and Katie Service - Beauty Editor of the Times Style magazine.

The panel discussed their careers to date and how they came to be in the roles they are in now. The common denominator was to be creative, think outside the box and consider opportunities outside the norm. Here are their top tips for finding your way in the retail and fashion industry:

  • The journey to your dream job does not always follow a straight path. For example, Kate started off working in the Maintenance admin department for Fat Face, and is now talent scout for Urban Outfitters. Katie studied Latin and Greek in university before getting into PR, which led her to meet Kay Montano who introduced her to Kathy Phillips of Vogue China.
  • It’s ok to try different avenues before you find your dream job. Peter had numerous jobs including venturing out on his own before he joined Google, where he has now been for 6 years.
  • Speak to family, friends, recruitment consultants and mentors etc. to find out about their experience and how they got to where they are today.
  • Be prepared to do internships, junior roles and don’t be afraid to get stuck in! Take on jobs outside of your job description to stretch yourself, and get you noticed within the company.
  • Do temp work to see if you want to get into that line of work. This is especially important in roles such as Buying and Merchandising as these roles are often very different in reality. Temp work and Internships show passion for a company or a particular role, and can provide priceless experience and an inside look into that role and company.
  • Use time off or “Gaps in your CV” to further develop yourself.  Create a blog on something you are passionate about, go travelling and use this as an opportunity to assess other cultures and their interpretation of the fashion industry, research the industry, a brand you want to work for, and their competitors, read articles, blogs and books dedicated to the industry.
  • Make yourself stand out from the competition; look up recruiter on LinkedIn and hand deliver your CV to them, contact them and arrange to have a coffee, follow up after the interview, and if you have anything relevant you want to share with them such as your blog, this is a great opportunity to ensure you stay at the forefront of their mind, even after you have left the interview.
  • Brand fit, is just as important as experience. You must be passionate about the brand, and embody it, in how you dress, act and say. By showing true passion for the brand, doing your research on it and its competitors and knowing how you can be of benefit to the company, will help you stand out to an interviewer.
  • Finally; never stop learning! Use every opportunity as a chance to further your knowledge or experience.

We 100% agree with these fantastic tips and enjoyed a great afternoon with the London College of Fashion. For any extra advice around job hunting our retail team at handle are happy to share their experiences.

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