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Industry Insight: Why You Aren't Getting the Clothing Industry Job You Applied For

You've been working that stupid job at the restaurant for over a year and you've been sending emails out to every clothing company you can think of. Why haven't you scored your dream job yet? I recently interviewed candidates for an assistant design position, and here is the honest truth about why I didn't hire them. 

Our business unit within my company, New Era Cap, was expanding. I needed to hire an assistant designer who could use illustrator, had knowledge of streetwear brands, and was into sports. We received hundreds of emails, and deleted 99% of them right when we opened them. Why? Mostly based on these simple mistakes.

Most Common Clothing Industry Job Application Mistakes: 

1. Listing the wrong job title.  The most common mistake young designers make these days is calling themselves a "Creative Director" or "CEO" of their own brand. I will be flat out honest. This is extremely annoying to large companies because a Creative Director is someone with 5-10+ years of experience who has multiple designers working under them. I'm not hiring someone like that, I'm hiring a beginner with 1-2 years of design experience. So therefore, if you really are a creative director, you're overqualified for me and I don't want to pay you too much. And if you're not, and you're just a designer for a very small brand, then off the bat you're lying to me on your resume. By the way, if you own your own t-shirt brand, you're a Brand Owner, and that's cool to me, it's great experience! But you are not a CEO. If you work at a store in the mall, the proper term is "Sales Associate," which is very different from a "Sales Rep." A sales rep works directly for a company (usually headquarters) and sells for them (usually wholesale). It's better to list the appropriate title, than to try to sound cool. Remember to change all this info on your linkedin page as well. 

2. Your resume looks like everyone else's. The fashion industry is a creative industry. By not taking the time to make a nice resume, it shows that you slack off and don't put creativity into a simple task. Invest in a nice portfolio template from creative market.  It will cost you between $5-20, but it's completely worth it. If I open a regular, bland, Word document resume, I'll get tired of looking at it after about 3 seconds. Choose something nice and classy, not too fancy or over-designed, but it should be something that requires photoshop or illustrator to edit it. If you don't know how to use photoshop or illustrator, send it to a friend to help you. Or, you can send me all your info and I'll help you for a small fee or some kind of trade-off! 

3. Your social media is boo-boo.  After getting points #1 and #2 above correctly, the next thing I do is look up the applicant's instagram and social media sites. If you don't care how your instagram looks, how could you possibly care about how your projects look at work? Your social media sites are a display of who you are, just like your resume and portfolio. Sometimes, having a creative tumblr page is more important to me than your job history. Being funny on twitter shows that you're a cool person to work with. And it's not about your follower count either. Just remember that those pages are a representation of your skills, aesthetic, hobbies, taste level, and attention to detail, which all relate to how you perform at work. 

4. You don't answer the phone.  If #1-3 above passes, the next step is to call and schedule interviews with the applicants. IF YOU WON'T TALK ON THE PHONE, I WILL NOT HIRE YOU. Do not skip the spot on the application for your phone number, I don't want to take extra time to send you an email. Scheduling over the phone is faster and easier, and making phone calls are a part of most office jobs. If you're one of those people who says "text me, don't ever call me," you're not ready for a serious job. When it comes to making weekend plans with friends, then yeah, do it through a text. But a lot of business is conducted over the phone, and the industry will not make an exception for you. By the way, if we do email you, answer your emails quickly and promptly. If your phone doesn't notify you when you get emails, get a different mail app so you can receive them in real-time. Ain't nobody gonna wait for you.

5. You bomb the interview.  So you're almost there! Here are a few ways that people screwed up their interview with me.

Most Common Clothing Industry Interview Mistakes: 

- Bragging and name dropping. At my job, we have at least one celebrity or rapper in the office every week. Don't name-drop every celebrity who ever wore one of your designs on stage. Make a one-pager of celebrity press images, and leave it at that. Don't sound like a fan-boy or fan-girl. 

-Nothing is on paper.  Bring a paper copy of your resume and cover letter, even though you emailed it to us. Bring print-outs of your portfolio or photography, and leave them with us. Bring your business cards (nice ones! see #2 above.) Do not come in with just your ipad and show your website as your portfolio. Yes I understand it's 2015, but leaving a hard copy leaves something to remember you by. And what if the wifi isn't working? Don't risk it! 

- Asking for things before you even get the job. You are expected to already own your own equipment, which includes up-to-date laptop, software, camera if you're a photographer, etc. Don't come in with a 2005 macbook, then ask if you'll get a new computer if you get the job. If you really want the job, you'll invest whatever it takes to get it. We know you need money, but sometimes it takes some to make some. 

- Too late or too early.  Please pad your travel to the interview by 15 minutes to ensure that you are not late. Show up a little early, then wait in your car until within 5 minutes of your scheduled time. It might sound crazy, but usually we schedule a ton of interviews in one day, so we don't want you there waiting while we're interviewing someone else. It makes us feel rushed, and we don't want applicants passing each other in the hallway. And if you're late, we have to wait for you, and then all the other meetings get pushed back. Do whatever it takes to be on time and ready. 

 - Yo... what are you wearing? Usually streetwear and action sports industry jobs are more laid-back and mellow. We wear a t-shirt and jeans to the office. Research your company, and don't wear the wrong thing. Don't wear a tux from Men's Warehouse to a surf/skate office. But if you're applying to a high-fashion house, yeah, wear a tux, but rent a designer one (or go to Nordstrom Rack) so you don't look like you got it at Kmart. If you're not sure what to wear, just ask. There's nothing wrong with calling and asking what the normal office attire is prior to your interview! 

If you have any questions, or you want to send me your resume to look at it, feel free to email me at 

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