Job Hunting in the Fashion Industry

Ever been on a job hunt? For whatever reason... just out of school, lay-off, stay-at-home-mom returning to the circus, oops workplace, just divorced, disgruntled at your current job, no more sugar daddy, and while you’re looking the days turn to weeks, then months and you’re still looking, depression will inevitably set in. Subconsciously we all know that’s what we want to avoid, and in preparation early on, the hunt takes on an air of desperation. Here is a brief guide, with help from Proforce Personnel, to help keep you focused, because what you really need is a good job, not any job.


Do yourself a favour and research the following prior to your interview:

- Average salary for the position you are applying for, in order to put yourself in a good negotiating position. Keep in mind that the amount of experience you have will directly influence your salary. So just because a certain position boasts a salary in six figures, doesn’t mean that’s what you can ask for, if you’re at the beginning of your career.

- Company culture, because it’s what you will be immersed in for most part of the day, so it better be one that you’re comfortable with. Ask around your network, someone’s bound to know someone that worked/works there. The industry in Montreal is pretty compact, and to a degree the ‘everyone-knows-everyone’ does ring true.

- Employee turnover is to be looked at carefully; if it’s high up on the scale, then think twice. Because that might mean high salaries lure employees in, but the money is the only good part about the job. The rest of it is loaded with stress, office politics, bad management, etc.

- Benefits offered can swing the scale upward or downward. Ask your potential employer/agent questions about all benefits offered and when they set in. The standard is that benefits kick in after a three month probation, and can include any/all of the following: health/dental plans, RRSP contributions, travel allowance, parking space, summer hours and more.Christopher Livingstone, Proforce Personnel

DOs from Christopher Livingstone of Proforce Personnel:

  1. Try to keep your experience within a similar role or commodity in order to become a specialist. This way you will add knowledge and your salary will reflect that gained experience.
  2. There’s always an Employee for an Employer and the other way around. Don’t always rely on he said she said or company reputation. You should be going to all interviews offered in order to find out yourself if the company suits what you’re looking for. If it doesn’t, hey!!! You practiced your interview skills.
  3. Get on the social media bandwagon. More and more employers are finding great talent through social media networking like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. Be aware that your boss might be on there as well!!!
  4. Keep in contact with former colleagues, superiors, classmates and teachers. In today’s economy more and more companies have started internal referral programs in order to hire people their employees recommend.


If you want what’s good for you:

- DON’T accept a salary much lower than you’re worth, out of fear, just because saying no means uncertainty, something you’re terrified of…even if your employer offers to review your salary in three months, or the ‘near-future’. It never happens! People with experience will tell you that your boss will be ‘super busy’ when it’s time to renegotiate, or she will be traveling incessantly, or ‘recession’ and ‘cut backs’ will be key words heard around the office. The only way around this is to get it in writing before you begin, and hopefully a signed document will ensure you successfully renegotiate your salary when the time comes.

- DON’T believe that if you start at a certain position in a certain department, it is guaranteed that you will be moved to the one of your choice ‘soon’. Again soon is most probably when the stars burn out, and in the meantime you’re stuck at the position/department you were hired for to start with. Solution is again, get in writing what you expect to happen and make sure your prospective boss signs the document.

- DON’T judge the value of the job by salary alone. See point 4 in the list above, and remember to take into account benefits offered. In today’s economic climate, they’re hard to come by, which make them all the more valuable when they do appear.

DON’Ts from Christopher Livingstone of Proforce Personnel:

  1. All employers believe that you will stay a loyal employee forever. Never burst their bubble by talking about personal aspirations like owning your own company or being your own boss. As well never tell them bad things about your last employer. You never know who’s related to whom in this industry.
  2. Never go on an interview with a list of demands. That will automatically weaken your negotiating power. The tables have turned once they like you and are interested by what you can bring to their company. Now is the time for reasonable demands. Always keep in mind that you gain negotiating power by proving yourself in a company.
  3. Don’t refuse an offer because it came quickly. When you feel it’s a match, then it’s a match. Timing is everything. As a fashion recruiter at Proforce Personnel too many times have we seen refused offers because they came quickly and in most cases the candidates regret not taking the opportunity they were first offered. Remember a match is a match whenever it comes.

Christopher adds:

Who says you can’t interview them before making a change?

Four questions you should always be asking a potential employer:

  1. Why is this position available?
  2. Tell me a little about the job at hand
  3. What profile do you feel best suits this position?
  4. What is the working environment like?

Written by Shilpa Varghese, with contributions from Christopher Livingstone, Recruiting Director at Proforce Personnel.

To get in touch with Proforce e-mail Christopher, or check the company website.

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