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On Paper Vs. In Person

Sima Kumar transferrableskills, interviews...

On Paper vs. In Person

meeting , shakinghands, man, cuff, female, handshake

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As the job market, especially for new graduates, becomes a highly saturated and highly competitive landscape, it’s crucial for recruiters to look beyond what’s on paper. One of the advantages of working with a boutique recruitment agency like Directory is the application process goes beyond a CV to in-depth in-person interviews. 

Agency founders Javid Pathan and Younus Desai have honed the skill of being able to spot key transferable skills from a CV even when the applicant doesn’t quite fit the job description. This is one reason, why personalization in the recruitment field will always be essential in the near future. As more and more agencies scale using technology to vet applicants, the world of premium and luxury retail still requires the personal interaction to qualify the right applicant for the right brand. The recruitment agency knows how to play this game of chess to align applicants with brands.

So what happens when candidates don’t have the work experience but are looking to start their journey in starting a career in fashion retail? A keen eye of a recruiter who interviews in person can pull out value alignment. An easy example of this is finding out an applicant is vegan, something that doesn’t show up on a CV can automatically align them with a designer such as Stella McCartney who has committed to no use of animal skins and whose company culture is aligned with her personal and brand values. 

Image via: Veg News

Another trend the agency sees a lot is a lot of candidates leaving a high pressure corporate world of law or finance to pursue a long-standing passion in fashion. Anyone coming from a background in law will possess the interpersonal skills required to hone in on very acute preferences of high spending luxury clients. Especially for brands who have boutiques in high traffic London destinations such as Harrods and Selfridges. Someone from finance will know how to work well under pressure. And whereas a retail job can seem a far cry from the pressures of a career in the courtrooms and boardrooms - knowing how to stay calm with demanding customers and limited edition luxury product drops, peak trade seasons and the chaos of consumerism - a cool head will serve a candidate well.

Balenciaga images via Pinterest

Other brands such as Balenciaga that have evolved into current cult status with millennials and Gen Z’ers - skills such as styling urban wear with traditional luxury fashion, the power of Instagram to source product and using technology to sell can turbo boost a legacy brand to an entire new customer base because they know how to reach their customer at every touch point.

Using social media to accelerate sales is a sure fire way for hiring managers and supervisors to spot selling stars and begin career planning that becomes more defined to an applicant's bigger picture goals.

Photo by Akson on Unsplash

Some soft skills students can start focussing on while studying that will serve them well once out in the job force is time management, learning to take initiative, numeracy and culture awareness.

  • Time Management - every student needs to work to a deadline which ends with a final paper and final exams. The more an applicant can learn to responsibly juggle all they are accountable for while at school, the stronger they become in an interview process to qualify with luxury brands. Recruiters and brands always look for an individual who can juggle multiple things at once.

  • Initiative - notice how a lot of job descriptions in the world of retail come with a line that reads “ability to take initiative”? This is because the world of luxury retail, especially to someone who has never worked before, can be intimidating. Brands are always looking for candidates who can quickly learn how to best approach a customer so they are acknowledged. We’ve all been into a luxury fashion boutique where not one person says hello. In a retail landscape where customers can take to social media to blast brands on customer service, this is becoming a higher priority more than ever. 

  • Numeracy -  anyone who spends time looking at their Instagram follower count or deletes photos that don’t receive a particular number of likes - is engaged with numeracy. This is a key skill required in a retail career. So even when interviewing a candidate who has never worked on a cash till or taken inventory of stock, can learn how to do this easily.

  • Cultural Awareness - as diversity becomes a larger and louder conversation in the world of fashion, anyone who has experience working with groups of people from diverse background gains an instant advantage in the hiring process. London is also a destination for the global luxury fashion consumer 365 days of the year. Languages, knowledge of different cultures, and the ability to connect with a range of cultures within a team and customer-facing becoming highly sought after skills. 

If you are looking to enter the world of luxury fashion and would like to explore opportunities with Directory - email your CV and cover letter to