When I landed my first real job at a fashion modeling agency as a booking agent I never considered how accepting this role would limit or advance future opportunities. Now more than a decade later one of the least enjoyable aspects of my position is informing candidates that their background is not a fit for a specific opportunity. Recently I had a conversation with a women’s apparel designer who’s focus was more fashion driven. Her desire was to make the transition into activewear. I couldn’t resist warning her of the implications this move would have on her future career opportunities. Neither bad nor good this move would have consequences open to the interpretation of one’s desired outcome.
Last month we looked at a few ways to determine your ideal company culture and launch a strategic approach to your job search. This conversation prompted me to drill down further into the strategic approach for achieving your career goals. Let’s get into it.
Today’s market is becoming more specialized. Declaring transferable skill set as an asset is committing interview suicide. What’s worse is wasting your valuable time pursuing roles that may not be perceived as a match from the interviewer’s perspective despite what appears to be the required experience. Why? It’s not just about your skills, it’s about your background. Where have you come from?
Market Segments: If you’re looking to move into the activewear space or already exist within this segment, determine who your top target employers are. Who are their competitors?
It’s not impossible to make the jump between segments but remember that once you make the jump future career opportunities may be more limited to roles within this segment.
It’s easier to make the switch from fashion to activewear or performance and outdoor. Not so easy the other way around. It’s a lot like models. You can get an editorial girl a catalog booking any day of the week. But, you can’t get a catalog girl an editorial booking. Rules of engagement.
There’s some controversy surrounding outdoor and activewear being close enough to warrant directly related experience. This hasn’t been my experience. True outdoor and outerwear brands are less likely to consider the activewear and athletic market as a true competitor and vice versa.
Retail vs. Wholesale: As we all well know there are different systems, processes and calendars associated with working in a retailer vs a wholesaler. Typically, employers want to feel confident you can hit the ground running comfortably in their environment.
Size: If you’re working in a large retailer or corporate structure, your best bet is to find another that resembles size. The fear that most small to medium sized companies face is will someone accustomed to several layers, support and corporate culture survive in a more hands on, wear lots of hats environment. It’s a risk from their perspective. It may also prove challenging to achieve the compensation package with a smaller brand that may not be able to support stock options, etc.
Aesthetic: This one is more subjective. This is where our egos can get bruised. Let’s say you’re working for a large retailer within fashion. Fashion can mean a lot of different things. Is a company in the luxury space targeting candidates in fast fashion? While that’s a more obvious example, think like the hiring company. Do they see themselves and your current employer as equals? This premise isn’t exclusive to fashion. The snob factor rings true within the outdoor industry. If one brand is seen as an innovation giant with superior quality, it’s less likely that they will pursue talent from a mid-market brand.
Does this mean that once you’re on a path it’s impossible to make the jump? Absolutely not. It is however the path of least resistance. What’s more important is that it begs the question, where do you want to be?