How to Write a CV & Cover Letter for the Fashion and Retail Industry
Your CV is your first opportunity to shine and stand out from the crowd. It must therefore highlight all your skills, qualifications, experience and indeed anything that will sell yourself to the reader.
Before you jump straight in and start writing your CV it is best to do a bit of preparation. Start by writing a list of all the responsibilities and skills you have acquired in your previous roles. Once you’ve created a list you can focus on which of these skills relate specifically to the type of role you are applying for, and eliminate anything which doesn’t. CV’s should ideally be no longer than two pages long, so you don’t want to waste space on anything which won’t add value.
Start your CV with a small introduction outlining your key skills set and career aims. Keep it short but specific - ‘looking for an opportunity to enhance my skills’ doesn’t tell anyone what you are looking for.
Then you need to list your education. Reverse chronological order is standard here and enables the reader to focus on your most recent and important achievements. Make your professional qualifications easily identifiable. If you are fully qualified, note down when you qualified.
Group your experience into previous positions, starting with your current or most recent position at the top. When describing your positions you should include the company name, job title, start and finish date, a brief outline of the company, and a list of your duties and responsibilities. Try and present this as a concise list of specific achievements and the value you added to the role rather than just a list of day-to-day duties. Present these in bullet points as this is easier to read than big paragraphs.
Remember that there is no such thing as an all-purpose CV, and an employer can spot a mass produced CV a mile off! Adjust your CV accordingly by emphasising aspects of your experience that are particularly important for the role. Recognise the key words used in the job description for the role you are applying to and make sure the same words appear on your CV. This makes it really easy for the reader to recognise your suitability.
Don’t forget to add your name and contact details at the top of your CV. It sounds obvious but you’ll be surprised at how many people forget, and then wonder why no one is contacting them!
The most important step in preparing your CV comes next. CHECK IT CAREFULLY! Your CV will instantly lose credibility if it has spelling and grammar mistakes in it. If you claim to have ‘excellent attention to detail’ in a CV full of errors, it doesn’t bode well. Send your CV to a few friends to check. They will notice any errors that you may have missed, and will also be able to comment on how well it flows.
Your CV is now ready to be sent. Remember to edit your CV each time you apply for a different role and if you notice your CV isn’t getting many responses, have another look at it and see if there is anything which can be improved. If your current CV isn’t doing enough to get you an interview, why continue to send it out?
Your Cover Letter
A covering letter should be included whenever you send a copy of your CV to an employer or consultant. This enables you to target your CV even more, and adds a more human and personal touch. The idea of a covering letter is to draw attention to the important sections of your CV and should highlight your experience in relation to the specific role.
Firstly, explain where you saw the advert for the position, and the position you are applying for, if appropriate.
Follow on by explaining why you want the job and why you feel you are suitable. Much of this information will already be included in your CV, and remember the letter should complement the CV, not reiterate it. Highlight important points detailed in your CV, but try not to use the same phrases. Personalise your letter by mentioning the company and show that you have done your research and know something about them. Try to include why you would like to work for that particular company.
Finish the covering letter by looking to the future - explain that you look forward to hearing from them, or hope to hear from them soon.