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Monday 18 January 2016

CV and Cover Letter Advice - from a Pro

Laura Dufort visited Solent last week as part of the University’s fashion Industry Week, in which third year students organised a variety of industry speakers to speak about their roles.

She moved to the UK from Canada around 15 years ago, and pretty quickly settled in to an administrative role at Ted Baker.

Having worked her way up from admin into a design role, from there Laura moved to Burberry before heading a small team for designer Christopher Raeburn.

She and Emma Pritchard, Senior Lecturer in Fashion Management, held an open question and answer session about how to create the perfect CV and cover letter. This is part one of two: read more next week for the rest of her advice.

If you’d like a career in fashion, the outlook is promising. According to Laura and Emma, the industry has continued to grow, even through a double dip recession. It’s moving so fast, it needs young blood, so your chances of getting a job after graduation are strong.

laura-dufort

Here are the first of Laura’s top tips to help get you there.

Keep it simple

The CV

The fashion industry is an extremely fast-paced environment, so your CV should be crisp and clear. The more concise, the better – two pages are ideal.

The name of your previous employer or where you completed your work experience should be first, with bullet points of your responsibilities underneath.

You can also bullet point the programmes you know how to use, such as Excel, Photoshop and Illustrator.

There should be no pictures, graphic design or borders. If you’d like to showcase your portfolio, include the link in your CV.

You should include a personal statement, but keep it really small. Laura suggested something like: ‘I’m a product developer; my goal is to support the designer and see the goal through to the end product.’

The cover letter

A good cover letter can make all the difference to your application. Like your CV, it should get to the point quickly and always be professional.

“If you write a great cover letter, you’ll always get a reply – even if it’s just a no,” said Laura.

A great cover letter would explain why you’re a good applicant in terms of personality and skill. Do you fit the ethos of the company?

Make it dynamic by focusing the letter on what you’re applying for and how you fulfil the specifications. Give an example of why you want it and how it would suit you.

If you’ve done any live projects that you can relate, these should be included in your cover letter as opposed to your CV.

Giving examples of team playing is always good, but never include clichés such as ‘I have a passion for fashion’, or write in too chatty or familiar a tone.

End your letter with something like: ‘Thank you for the opportunity. I look forward to hearing from you.’

Work experience comes first

As soon as you start to get experience – even a small part-time job that doesn’t seem relevant – start including it before your education.

Having looked at hundreds of CVs, Laura says it’s always best to put your work experience first so the person reading it can get a quick understanding of what you’ve done and how it can be applied to the role being offered.

If you’re applying through an agency, they may ask for a different layout, which is fine. However, if you’re applying directly to the company, your experience should be the first thing they see.