Many people dream of a career in the fashion industry because of the glamour, prestige, and excitement. Depending on the job, you could travel, rub elbows with famous models, collect lots of freebies, and make contacts that will last throughout your career. Because of that same “cool factor,” however, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of other people just dying to have those jobs. In such an avalanche of resumes, how can you make sure anyone even looks at yours? It starts with your cover letter.
It’s faster and easier to scan a cover letter than it is a resume. So the applicants with the best cover letters have an edge when it comes to garnering attention. Here are some tips for making yours shine:
Make it personal
As connected as everyone is through social media, there’s no excuse for addressing a cover letter to “Dear hiring manager” or “To whom it may concern.” Take the time to do some research and identify the person whom you want to review your resume. LinkedIn is a great place to start, but, if all else fails, pick up the phone and ask the receptionist.
Tell a story
The best teachers, marketers, and politicians all know the secret to capturing and keeping an audience’s attention: Tell a story, and tell it with passion. Write about how you came to be interested in the fashion industry, what it means to you, what you love about it, and why you’re applying to that particular company.
Make it real
One of the worst mistakes you can make is to send a generic cover letter. While it may not be as bad as forgetting to change the company’s name and address from the last one you sent, a letter that’s too general shows you didn’t do your homework. If you captured the hiring manager’s interest by telling a story, you’ll lose it if the rest of your letter could have been sent to one of a hundred organizations. Mention something specific about the company – and not just the name. Mention some recent news or accomplishments. If you have any contacts who work there, this is the time to drop names. Even better, turn it into a compliment by writing about why they love working there. The icing on the cake would be mentioning some recent and positive news about the hiring manager’s work at the company.
Don’t get carried away by the cool factor
While the fashion industry may have a reputation for being trendy and on the cutting edge, it would be a mistake to be too “out there” with your cover letter. Fashion executives may be glamorous, but they’re still professionals who have goals and objectives they’ll be held accountable for. Focus on the business aspects rather than the industry culture.
Get it right
Attention to detail is as important in fashion as it is in any other industry. Proofread your letter, let it sit overnight (if you have time), then proofread it again. Double-check the accuracy of the recipient’s name and title. If you’ve been sending out a lot of cover letters, make sure you’ve changed any details that would give away the fact that you’re applying other places. Forgetting to do that not only shows a lack of attention to detail, it shows a lack of respect, and it would probably be the death knell for your dream of working at that company.
In such a competitive field, a cover letter is often the first step in the screening process, so if yours doesn’t measure up, your resume could end up in the “”not interested” pile before anyone even looks at it. Getting your foot in the door of the fashion industry starts with crafting a cover letter that grabs the readers’ attention - and keeps it.
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