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17 September 2017
As the shopping editor at finder.com.au, I’ve recently been going through the process of hiring a fashion writer to work in our team. This experience has taught me a LOT.
Firstly, there are hundreds of educated, smart and talented go-getters out there looking for work. ? And they’re all competing for a mere handful of jobs.
Secondly, hiring is exhausting. ? We received over 100 applications for the junior role and the time it took to give every application equal consideration was unmanageable. In fact, I fear most other people won’t bother reading every application, as I did. There are too many to get through.
So with this in mind, if you want one of these limited jobs, you have just a few lines to adequately capture the attention of your potential employer and make yourself stand out from the rest. Here are my tips to maximise your chances.
DO express a personal interest in fashion…
You would think this was a given but I was absolutely gobsmacked by the number of people that didn’t even bother to mention that they had a personal interest in fashion. A personal interest in the job suggests that you’re going to be dedicated, passionate and on-the-ball when it comes to current trends. So you can’t afford to leave this out of your application.
And don’t worry about sounding a little colloquial. Showing a bit of personality is one way you can stand out.
Don’t write: I believe I am the ideal candidate for this role owing to my skills in digital media.
Do write: I believe I am the ideal candidate for this role owing to my digital media skills and my total fashion obsession.
DO write a cover letter…
A cover letter is your chance to address the requirements and details in the job ad. It also allows you to show a bit of personality. Remember you’re applying for a job in fashion, not at a law firm. Try not to sound too robotic when you’re writing it.
Also, many hiring managers don’t accept applications without cover letters. So if you don’t have a cover letter not only are you starting on the back foot, there’s a very good chance your application won’t even be read.
If you’re not in a similar role, DO acknowledge this…
If your current job is different from the one you’re applying for, you need to highlight that you’re looking to transition into a different role. Otherwise, it looks like you didn’t understand the job ad and you don’t get the scope of the role you’re applying for. The exception is if your current role is entirely irrelevant – in that case, I would not mention it at all.
Don’t write: I’m looking to apply for the editorial writer role. I’m a digital marketing expert working in a marketing manager role.
Do write: I’m looking to apply for the editorial writer role. I’m a digital marketing expert looking to take my skills into a full-time writing role.
DON’T include irrelevant jobs in the ‘experience’ section of your CV…
If you’re applying for a job as a social media manager or writer, the hiring manager isn’t going to care how many years of babysitting experience you’ve got. Remove anything from your CV that isn’t relevant to the role you’re applying for – this means bartending, waitressing, working at McDonald’s etc. The exception is if you have limited experience and want to beef up your application a little. You can then leave in irrelevant experience, but don’t let it take up more than one line.
Focus on including experience with transferable skills. So while bookkeeping may not be entirely relevant, it probably helped you develop Microsoft Office skills – you can leave that stuff in.
DON’T include a ‘career objective’ or ‘career summary’ section…
The exception here is if you’re a very experienced professional with a long career history. Then you might have a lot of information to summarise in a short space and it could be worthwhile.
But if you’re just starting out and you’ve got one or two years experience under your belt then there’s really no point. The hiring manager can just read down your ‘experience’ section to get an adequate idea of your prior experience. You want to make your application short and sweet – people are busy and don’t have time to read through any unnecessary information.
DO address all the key requirements of the role, especially in the cover letter…
If the job ad mentions that you need to understand WordPress or have PhotoShop skills, then you 100% need to address these points in your cover letter – and at the very least list these as key skills in your CV.
Your cover letter should be written to a formula. Introduce yourself, highlight the role you wish to apply for and why. In the next paragraph, you should address each key requirement mentioned in the job advertisement using examples.
Don’t write: I have been working in media and fashion for over two years and I believe I have all the skills required to do this job to a high standard. I’ve previously worked at xxxx company in xxxx role.
Do write: I have been working in media and fashion for over two years and I believe I have all the skills required to do this job to a high standard. My time at xxxx company sharpened my WordPress and PhotoShop skills and I’m now a master at both.
DON’T write a CV more than 2 pages long…
People are busy, especially hiring managers. No one has time to read a four-page CV. And if hiring managers aren’t reading your application, you’re not getting the job. I’ve seen people with 20 years experience creates a spectacular CV in less than two pages. It can be done, trust me.
DO include your personal social media handles on your application…
A lot of advice out there for writing CVs and applying for jobs is very general and is often written with accountants, engineers and sales professionals in mind. Media is a different space, especially fashion media.
So including personal touches like a photo and your social media handles can make a big difference in helping you stand out. The hiring managers are going to be looking for candidates who have good taste and a solid understanding of social media – so giving them an easy way to see the type of person you are will really help. You can list these below your phone number on your CV.
Just know that if you don’t put your Twitter or Instagram on your application, the hiring manager and your potential boss are very likely to Google your name and find your social accounts anyway – I know I did. Save them some time and just put the links in there.
DO include links to relevant work or a blog…
Got some previous examples of styling work? Or perhaps a few articles you’ve written? Even an Instagram account you used to manage? Include all these (in link form) in your CV with the heading ‘examples of work’. Not every ad will ask for these but I think you should always include examples of work if you have them. It’s a really easy way to show hiring managers your taste, skills, and level of English literacy. And it will make you stand out from the applications that didn’t include examples of previous work.
DO find small ways to stand out…
Now, I’m not saying you should go full Elle Woods and make a pink scented CV. But perhaps use a tool like this to build your CV so it looks a bit prettier than one you can make in Microsoft Word? Or perhaps yours could include some screenshots of previous work in the margin of your CV? Try little inoffensive things that will make your application slightly more memorable than the others.
DO apply directly to an email address rather than an online form…
When you apply directly to the email address provided, your name will come up in the subject line of the email. If you apply through the form, the hiring manager will just get a generic email from Seek or Pedestrian with your application attached. As a result, it is much easier to locate emails that have come directly through another email, and we all need as much visibility as possible.
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